Volunteer Experience From The Great Gorilla Project - Read About Angela's Treks Through The Ugandan Mountains

Volunteer Experience From The Great Gorilla Project - Read About Angela's Treks Through The Ugandan Mountains

Posted by Michael Starbuck on 13th Mar 2017

The Great Gorilla Project is one of our most spectacular volunteering trips, giving you the chance to trek through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in search of the reclusive and critically endangered mountain gorillas in their Ugandan home. Last year, one of our volunteers, Angela, headed out to the project to experience this once in a lifetime trip for herself. Angela brought back some incredible memories and pictures with her, so we will just let her do the talking from here!

Gorilla with baby gorilla

It's difficult to put into words how utterly outstanding this trip was! I met so many wonderful people who I am still in touch with and the five other ladies who were also on this trip made the adventures even more amazing.

Our first trek in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was to see the Nshongi gorilla group. This is one of the oldest groups in the area, and it was quite a difficult trek but we had all hired porters which proved invaluable and I would highly recommend it for anyone no matter how fit you think you are. The porters are so enthusiastic, polite and knowledgeable and I was grateful to have them by our sides. On this first trek we saw 5 gorillas including Bweza the silverback, and the baby of the group. When I first set eyes on Bweza my heart stopped at the beauty of him, and when we saw his family close by it was truly a memorable moment.

Baby Ugandan Gorilla

The second trek that we did was to see the Kahungye group, this is one of the largest groups and I lost count how many gorillas we saw on this trek. There were so many, and at one point they were literally all around us. We were able to see three silverbacks in this group including Rumansi who kept us on our toes. We had two heart stopping moments when two of the silverbacks charged at us, not many people can say they have experienced that, and it was definitely the most memorable moment of the trip!!! (I must add that the trackers took very good care of us!!)

Ugandan Gorilla

To be able to spend an hour on each trek in the gorilla’s environment and see them interacting with each other is one of the most emotional and exciting things I have ever experienced.

We took a visit to Kalinzu Forest to see if we could spot some chimpanzees. We heard them before we saw them, they were very vocal! Again, they are beautiful animals and it was amazing to see them in their own environment.

Ugandan School

We visited Chihe Primary School where we were given a tour and all the children came out to greet us and sing for us. The children were so friendly and all wanted their photo taken! The headmaster was very appreciative of all the gifts that we brought for the school. The second school we visited, Sooko Primary School, was a much poorer school and it really hit home how little the children had. It was amazing to see how excited the children were when the pedal cinema was set up and running, and one of the teachers informed us that many of the children would never have seen moving pictures before which was unbelievable to hear. Denis, who organises the pedal cinema is truly an inspiration, and his passion to help everyone is amazing.

All of the children got involved with the activities and they helped us plant things in their school grounds for them to look after in the future. The children were all so happy and excited, and it was lovely to see but also heart wrenching as you wanted to do more for them. The third school we went to was Kisoro Demonstration School, which was an amazing school, and I loved how the children all looked out for one another. We interacted with 6 of the pupils who came out for a trip with us, and I was taught sign language by one of the girls and it was great to spend some time with them outside the school environment.

Uganda Volunteering at a school

The only tip I can give to future volunteers is to be prepared to go through every emotion possible throughout the trip!!! Pack light and if you don't have room to take gifts for the schools don't worry as you can buy things in Kisoro when you get there.

I can honestly say that the Great Gorilla Project was a trip of a lifetime, to be able to spend time in the presence of one of the most majestic animals on the planet was truly out of this world. It is an experience that I will never forget and one that I will always look back on with amazing memories.

Using her first-hand experience, Angela has described this trip in a way which really shows off what it is all about. The Great Gorilla Project not only provides you with the unique chance to see the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, but it also gives you the chance to give something back to the local community. If you are interested in learning more about this incredible project, then take a look here or ask a member of the travel team on the [email protected] email address.

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