It’s tough to describe the feeling of disbelief as you watch a wild gorilla happily devour the plant that, only five minutes prior, burned your skin due to slight contact with its unforgiving leaf. The Stinging Nettle plant is just one of the reasons for the area’s intimidating name, the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Located in the mountains of Uganda, this dense tangle of trees is home to many species, including about half of the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas. It’s estimated that fewer than 900 mountain gorillas exist in the world. Catching a glimpse of these rare, endangered beasts in their natural habitat is an awe-inspiring experience.
There are several gorillas families that roam freely and peacefully around Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. This is to the credit of organizations like the Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Conservation Trust (MBIFCT). These organizations hire trained gorilla trackers to spend their days finding and staying with the gorilla families. In this way, the trackers are able to study the gorillas’ behavior, condition them to see humans as a non-threat, and protect them from poachers.
Visitors have the opportunity to hike and explore the forest to spend some quality face time with these smelly but beautiful creatures. Although the battle with the thick brush can last for several grueling hours, there’s no experience quite like this one. Walking and grunting among the gorillas is well worth the exhausting trek.
All the profits from a gorilla trek go into further research and conservation efforts. Not only will you find yourself standing a few feet away from a wild gorilla, but you will witness the beauty that lives within the Ugandan villages surrounding them. And don’t worry, although the Stinging Nettle will inevitably get you, the forest is also home to the plant which contains the remedy.