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Guide Stories: Asgario from Bwindi, Uganda

Private guide Asgario tells us his story of guiding in his home country’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and working as a community leader in the mountain village of Nkuringho.

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Asgario was interviewed at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park by Travel Design Assistant James Whiteman on a research trip to Uganda.

“My first job was as a porter on gorilla treks – something many people in the community do – and I used what I earned to pay for school. I then trained to be a ranger and started leading the gorilla treks myself in 2003. I must have seen these gorillas hundreds of times now. In 2007 leading treks across Uganda, including mountaineering expeditions into the Rwenzoris.”

“The silverback pulled a tree branch down, holding it down as a bridge for the family to cross the water, before crossing himself.”

“When I was leading a gorilla trek some years ago, I saw a family of gorillas was at the edge of a river. The silverback pulled a tree branch down, holding it down as a bridge for the family to cross the water, before crossing himself. It was a great display of intelligence and showed how he cared for his family.”

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“Gorillas are very important to Uganda for many reasons. Firstly, they bring in much needed income, but they are also one of our closest cousins, so they are special and need conserving.”

“My second favourite animal in Uganda is the forest elephant; they are rarely seen but that’s what makes them special. Outside of the mountains, I really like giraffes and I love bird watching; there are over 1000 species in Uganda. My favourite species is the Ruwenzori turaco for its colourful plumage.”

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“In 2011 I founded a school in my home village, the Nkuringo Foundation School. When I was young I had to walk 20 kilometres to get to school, so I decided to set this up to make education more accessible, especially as the population of  Nkuringo has drastically increased with people who have come to work in tourism.”

“The school now educates and feeds 115 children of different ages, 30 percent of which are orphans and stay there. I often run community tours to my village and the school.”

“Gorilla tourism in Uganda is still young, so we need to work to make it more sustainable, integrating local communities. The number of wild gorilla families in Bwindi has increased in the last few years, with more being habituated right now, so I am very hopeful for the future. I also hope people will explore more the country, as we have a lot more to offer.”

“The number of wild gorilla families in Bwindi has increased in the last few years, with more being habituated right now, so I am very hopeful for the future.”

“Mountaineering is a great passion of mine and Uganda has many challenging climbs. The highest mountain here, Ngaliema [Mount Stanley], is 5,109 metres tall; I’ve guided many climbs up this mountain. Many people are surprised to see snow in Africa.”

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All images in this article were taken by James Whiteman.