habituated gorilla groups

Trekking gorillas in Bwindi with a tourist who drove from the UK to Uganda

Last month, our team from Gorilla Trek Africa was lucky enough to trek gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable national park with Mr. Malkit Rooprai, a British tourist who drove his car from the UK to Uganda. We had a chat before going for the actual trek and he revealed that he came overland by car all the way from London, through north, west, and south to East Africa.

Reaching southwest Uganda where the park is located, he had already covered over 35,000km and he was preparing to embark on the return journey still by his car. Considering that we had covered just over 1,000km from Kampala through Murchison Falls national park Kibale forest, and Queen Elizabeth national park to Bwindi, we marvelled at Rooprai’s inter-continental road journey.

Despite his age (63 years), Rooprai was not shaken by the tenacious trek through the dense and steep Bwindi forest. Together with him, we successfully reached our allocated group Bitukura, one of the 4 habituated gorilla families in the sector. Ruhija is the highest point of Bwindi, characterized by steep mountains covered by thick tropical forests. It took us about 2 hours and 10 minutes before reaching the gorillas.

We had a wonderful time in the presence of the gorillas and the magical hour we spent in their company was so breathtaking. Rooprai could not believe his eyes when he finally met mountain gorillas face-to-face. It was a dream come true for him and all of us. He confessed at the end of the experience that no amount of time spent in the presence of gorillas can ever be enough.

At the end of the trekking exercise, we were all awarded gorilla tracking certificates which are given as a gift to those who have completed the gorilla trekking encounter successfully.

African overland travel routes 

There are 9 major Trans Africa highways including Tripoli-Windhoek, Cairo- Dakar, Algiers – Lagos, Cairo – Gaborone, Lagos – Mombasa, Dakar – Lagos, Dakar – N’djamena, N’djamena – Djibouti, and Beira – Lobito. However, the most used for overland travel in Africa include the Trans-Saharan and the Cairo – Cape town highways of which Rooprai used and made a number of detours to arrive at some of the off-the-beaten path destinations. Given that there are numerous routes to take based on time and the logistics you have, you might not stick to these highways. Plan carefully and go off the beaten path and see alternative attractions.

The Trans Sahara highway

covering over 12,000km (7,500 miles), the trans Sahara links Tunisia and Cape town, South Africa. The main highway passes through Lagos, Nigeria, Kinshasa, DR Congo, Luanda Angola, Windhoek, Namibia, and finally ends in Cape town, South Africa. The route encompasses some of the ancient trade routes including the camel caravan routes across the Sahara Desert. For instance, Rooprai went through Timbuktu the ancient city in Mali, where much of gold and salt got traded in Africa.

The Cairo-Cape town route

The Cairo- Cape town highway is 10,500 km (6,500 miles), passing through over 8 countries including South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt. Along this route, you will find Africa’s natural wonders and some of the best wildlife safaris. From Table Mountain and Victoria falls to wildebeest migration in the Serengeti national park and mountain gorillas and chimps in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. Furthermore, history and Adventure awaits you on this route. There are opportunities for white water rafting at the source of the Nile in JInja Uganda. In addition to visiting nomadic pastoral communities like Masai, Karamojong, Turkana, Mundari, and ancient cities like Axum in Ethiopia.

Flexibility in travelling

A flexible schedule provides room for overland travellers to see many attractions along the way and the local way of life in the villages that would otherwise be missed by the convenience of flying between destinations. Rooprai drove 350 km daily and if the night got him on the road where there is no community settlement, he’d park the car near a roadside café and sleep.

The distance is much more than what guided safaris may travel in a day as they attempt to maintain a daily average of 250 km a day to stay comfortable on the road. From London, he drove through France and Portugal to cross over into Morocco from where he travelled through Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Gabon, Ghana, Gambia, Senegal, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, DR Congo, Rwanda, and Kenya, Uganda among others.

According to him East Africa has developed and is rich in resources, beautiful scenery, and welcoming people unlike the West. In addition, security and the well-maintained roads in the East African Community (EAC) are a good advantage for overland travel. For instance, the highway from Mombasa in Kenya through Uganda’s Kampala capital city and Fort Portal to Kigali Rwanda has signage, maps, and rest stops on it to direct travellers. He also affirmed that the police and other security agencies did not disturb him while driving on the road in Uganda unlike in countries like the DRC, and Rwanda where driving a right-hand vehicle is tricky.


Posted in Safari News.