Your Once in a Lifetime Gorilla Tracking Adventure
There will be moments when time stands still here. Is it 30 minutes that have passed? Four hours? There will be miles hiked that resonate no physical fatigue thanks to the thrilling anticipation of what’s to come. There will also be moments that vanish with lightning speed, when one hour encompasses an immeasurable scope of emotions and revelations about what you’re encountering right there and then, as you lock eyes with one of the world’s gentlest giants. Here – Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the dense forest seems a world away from the floating luxuries of Crystal Serenity, and yet, the two are intimately linked by a rare adventure deep in the wilds of South Africa.
Wild at Heart: Mountain Gorillas can only be found in the wilds of Africa, as they do not historically fare well in zoos or other enclosures. They are wanderers, constantly on the move, and limitations of this behavior can be detrimental to their health.
This “Gorilla Tracking Adventure” is appropriately named – a new pre-cruise land experience offered by Crystal that takes a select few guests on a quest that follows two families of endangered mountain gorillas who make their home in Bwindi’s forest. Guided by experts who follow the habits and wellbeing of these majestic beasts, whose worldwide numbers measure in the hundreds, guests will hike to the reaches of the park where the gorillas are known to congregate. As the animals are constantly on the move, so, too, will be participants in this adventure. Mountain gorillas can migrate several kilometers per day within their chosen territory, never really putting down roots in one certain spot. Finding them – studying their paths and surroundings and learning about their home forest – is a fascinating part of the adventure.
Salads Reign Supreme: They are vegetarians, consuming dozens of pounds of leaves and fruit per day, making their imposingly large physiques quite lean. It’s their thick fur that insulates them from the cold of the forest and other areas they are found.
It stands to reason that such exertion is best suited for physically fit guests, although no amount of cardio training can prepare your heart for the wonder of your first moments encountering these remarkable creatures. While many of the remaining mountain gorillas reside in or near Bwindi’s park, the two families featured in this program are the most commonly seen out and about and are quite accustomed to human presence. This means guests can observe from surprisingly close (yet still safe and respectful) distances. Though they are the world’s largest primates, boasting the strength of 10 humans they are generally mild mannered. Guests will have the opportunity to observe their family dynamic and playful moments in the heart of this jungle.
Great and Small: Crystal adventurers who strap on their boots in search of the mountain gorillas should take note of their sizes and hierarchy. Babies can be born smaller than human babies, less than five pounds, and can be seen clinging to their mothers. By contrast, mountain gorillas with long gray manes – silverbacks – can be up to 500 pounds and are typically in charge. This gray coloring is earned with age, while the young adult males are still black-backed.
The forest is thick, the trails are challenging, the objects of the adventure are fiercely fascinating… But this is a Crystal adventure, after all. Luxury safari accommodations have been arranged for this six-night, pre-cruise program offered before Crystal Serenity’s fourth and final 2019 World Cruise segment. And just as this profound wildlife experience comes to an end, another journey begins, as guests meet their Crystal ship in Cape Town for a 26-day voyage to Monte Carlo.
Day-by-day details of the Gorilla Tracking Adventure can be found here.