One of the most rewarding aspects of gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the privilege of slowing down and living life at the pace of a gorilla, even if only for an hour. During these treks, after finding the gorillas, the speed and anticipation of tracking instantly dissipates into the steady rhythm of the troop. There is a deliberate and methodical slowness to most of their movements through the dense forest, which is a tempo that suits them well. Ecological interactions are mediated through space and time, and experiencing both alongside wild animals provide much clearer perspectives on how they interact with their environment, and encourages the human observer to reconsider their own pace in nature. As an ecologist, I find that extended periods of immersive observation give the deepest insights into the beauty of these complex systems.
Resisting the urge to fill up my cameras’ memory cards, I ultimately put down the lenses, and took in smells, sounds, and feelings of the forest and its gorilla inhabitants. This young one, particularly curious of the GoreTex clad stranger, provided a contemplative glance before wandering off to join its playmates.