As I stated on the opening page, the gorillas defy description, though everyone tries to put their finger on exactly what makes them so special. If you believe in evolution, then sitting there watching creatures do things and act like you did when you were a kid just blows you away. Now, no kid I know can just snap a mid-sized tree and throw it on...more
During our visit, the animals carry on with their feeding, interaction, playing, climbing trees and generally just being gorillas. It is such an intense event full of overwhelming emotions, making the arduous climb seem insignificant and photography meaningless. Gorillas are difficult subjects to photographs anyway, the foliage making the ambient...more
“We are near” says Alphonse, and I can feel the excitement rising. We turn off the proper path and scramble through the jungle in amongst the undergrowth, continuing up the steep slopes of the volcano. There! On the path in front of us sits a huge silverback, chewing on some bamboo leaves. He slowly turns his head and for a moment I am mesmerized...more
After a few minutes, the family get up and move on, further up into the forest. We follow. This continues for the entire hour – they stop, spend a few minutes eating, and then move on uphill. The family consists of nine individuals: two silverbacks, one of which is the dominant male, three females and four juveniles. The dominant silverback is...more
Gorillas are primarily vegetarians, with bamboo shoots being the favoured diet, and they spend most of their day eating. Despite their enormous size, no attacks on humans have been recorded, although I would not favour my chances in a fight! They can live for up to 50 years in the wild, a little longer in captivity. No successful breeding...more
The path becomes more defined but still quite reasonable, with natural steps in the habitation. We carry on up and up, through bamboo groves and rich shrubbery. After some considerable climbing, we reach a level and can take it easy on a flat walk for a while. At a clearing we are told “this is where the gorillas were this morning, but now they...more
In the main street in Musanze (formerly known as Ruhangiri) this is a typical Rwanda buffet restaurant with selection of cooked bananas, Cassavas, potatoes and other vegetables.
I will have to admit, on my night out in Ruhengeri, I remember about the first 2 hours, after which, I had toasted the birthday celebrator too many times. This place was muted when we arrived, but was a cacophony of locals and us tourists dancing and yelling at the end.
Coming from Uganda, with its overwhelmingly friendly and gregarious people, it was immensely noticeable the difference in attitude of Rwandans. It doesn't take much thought or math to figure out why. With Genocide just a bit over a decade in the past, you have to realize that EVERY single adult was effecting in some way. Almost every single 30...more
At the car park where the gorilla trek starts, porters are available for hire to carry your gear on the trek. I would wholeheartedly recommend you getting one, not only as it leaves you free to scramble unencumbered, it also helps the local economy.I'm not sure whether it was to protect us from gorillas, other wildlife (buffalo in particular) or...more
We are informed about the Gorilla Code of Conduct which we are to adhere to at all times:1. Minimum distance you should get from any gorilla should be 7m. This is to prevent the transmission of airborne diseases that can travel considerable distances. 2. No visit should be longer than one hour from first sighting of the animals. The longer the...more
Back at the park headquarters we are all remarkably quiet; words seem superfluous as we are each immersed in our own thoughts and memories of a humbling meeting with man’s closest relative. We are given certificates to commemorate the occasion, an unnecessary action as I am sure not one of us will ever forget this moment!
So, you may think "Oh, its Africa. In a jungle. I'll just bring shorts." Well, my friend, think again. It was truly cold in the mornings, as you are at elevation. But, that isn't even the main reason. That would be little devil plants called "stinging nettles". They are aptly named, as the sting slightly in isolation, but 20 in concert make you...more
Well that's a one day track you could to if you are in top shape and acclimatized to the altitude. It's about 10 -12 hours climbing to the Muhabura pick at 4100m, and the air is very thin there. Seriously i believe this is better done in two days but such option does not exist. Don't dream of doing it on the first day you arrive.more
There are four habituated gorilla groups in the Virungas, and it really is the luck of the day which group your permit is assigned to. The Sabinyo Group and Group 13 are both within reasonably easy walking distance, whereas the Susa Group can be up to 4-5 hours walk away. (This is the original group that Dian Fossey studied) The Amahora Group is...more
Favorite thing: You just simply cannot get around paying the $600 for an hour visit with the gorillas. Nor should you. Your money does indeed go to the rangers and park personnel in charge of protecting the Gorillas. Now, I am not a hippy tree-hugging, save-the whales, kind of guy. But, even I know that this is a worthwhile undertaking. If you have seen the video of poachers carrying out the 600lbs gorilla, you should know what I mean. Its just heartbreaking. Just coming here supports the gorillas and your travel to the country helps it continue to recover form the genocide.