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Starting the Trek in Search of the Sabinyo Gorilla Family

Bamboo Forest in the Foothills of Mount Sabinyo

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With everything in place; porters, walking sticks and rangers with guns ready for elephant and buffalo, the tracking starts in thick bamboo forest -- more below
Bamboo Forest

Bamboo Forest

© Anouk Zijlma
I'd never experienced a bamboo forest this thick. The light barely filters through the smooth stems and leaves of the forest. The path is just wide enough for a human to pass through and you often have to duck to avoid getting smacked in the face by a branch or two. The mud is slippery and thick, you need a walking stick just to steady yourself at this stage, even though it's not very steep.

Elephants generally just crash through and make their own paths. Heaps of buffalo and elephant dung were barely discernible in the muddy path, but the huge elephant footprints were quite clear. An armed ranger walks with you, just in case you do come across these animals.

The pleasant looking bamboo forest gradually gives way to steeper slopes, muddier conditions and incredibly dense vegetation, seemingly made up of giant stinging nettles. The guides and trackers hack through with machetes, and we simply tried to keep up. The nettles burned right through my jeans and jacket, luckily the sensation only lasted about 5 minutes. Here's a short video of us getting closer to the gorillas.

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