The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in southern Uganda is one of only two sanctuaries left on the planet for these magnificent creatures. The other is about 40 miles away on the Rwanda/Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Ugandan soldiers were with us all the time to protect us NOT from the gorillas or cobras or lions, but rather from rebels slipping over the border from nearby Congo. Three years ago they killed 15 tourists at the very forest camp we were staying at, poured gasoline over the tour guide and set him on fire. Their goal is to intimidate foreign tourists in order to help destablize the Ugandan government.
There are about only 700 estimated mountain gorillas left. 350 are in the Bwindi Forest. Due to decades-long civil war and genocide, the fates of the remaining gorillas in Rwanda and the Congo are not known, and because of the “bush meat” trade, the worst is expected.
Once the gorillas are located, the 10 tourists, one guide, and one soldier are all allowed only one hour with the family group. As short as it seemed at the time, it was one of the most amazing hours of my life
Watching these mountain gorillas as they went about their daily chores was like watching any human family. They ate, they frolicked with their children, and they napped.