Entering the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is like stepping into a lost world, unchanged in millennia. Accessible only on foot, this forest is a biological hotspot that is home to an astonishing variety of species, from mammals and birds to plants and insects. The going is not easy through the seemingly unsurpassable wall of vegetation that closes in on you but the sounds of a gorilla family group noisily breaking branches somewhere ahead gets your pulse racing. Creeping closer in the footsteps of the trackers, the moment comes when you finally set eyes on one of our closest relatives on this planet, and all your fatigue vanishes. The group go about their everyday activities of feeding, grooming and playing as if you are invisible. Sometimes a curious youngster might approach you for a closer look or to tug at an item that attracts its attention, but on the whole, you are ignored; most particularly by the dominant male, whose indifference borders on the disdainful.
Looking into their deep brown eyes, you feel recognition, a feeling of kinship in a gaze that spans the eons between you and our common ancestors. After what seems like only moments, your time is up, and it is time to leave. Walking back down the thickly forested slopes, you feel elation, an inexpressible lightness of spirit from an encounter unlike any other: you are now one of the privileged few who have experienced an intimate view into the lives of these great apes. You return to the lodge in the mist with your heart in the clouds.