East Africa Safari – Episode 6 – Gorilla Trek 2
Sorry for the delay but its time to resume the narrative of our trip to East Africa. The day after we visited the Uganda gorillas we drove to Rwanda to visit a group on the other side of the mountains in the Volcanos National Park. We were still excited from our first gorilla trek but the one thing we all still wanted to see were young gorillas – the younger the better. When we arrived at our lodge in Rwanda we sat down and did some research into the Rwanda groups which had youngsters so that we could request one of those groups for our trek the next day. The way the process works in Rwanda, the tour guides have a conference with the local gorilla guides to decide which humans get assigned to which gorilla group. We had decided we wanted to go see the Amahora group because it had a relatively young baby gorilla as well as some other youngsters. When our guide Isaac came out of the conference we were delighted to find that we had been assigned to the group that we wanted. We were also happy when we learned that there would only be six of us visiting that group (as opposed to the normal eight person treks). After our briefing with the gorilla guide, we drove up a VERY rocky road to the bottom of the mountain (volcano) to begin our trek. We again arranged for porters to help us with our gear and headed out across the fields to begin our climb. The climb wasn’t as steep as the one in Uganda but it was muddier as it had rained the previous afternoon. This trek also had a fair amount of “stinging nettles” which were annoying but not a big problem as we had all worn long sleeves and had bought gloves with us to protect our hands. After about an hour and a half we reached the vicinity of the gorillas and we could see the bushes moving across a VERY steep slope. We dropped everything but our cameras again and headed out. The short walk to the gorillas was extremely difficult as the bushes and vines were very dense, we were traversing a very steep slope, and the vegetation was wet from the rains. After working hard to avoid falling (with my cameras), I accepted the inevitable and just tried to protect my lenses each time I fell. Once again it was all worth it when we reached the gorillas and got our first glimpse of the baby coming towards us……
The little guy was very playful with both his parents and his siblings. He spent a lot of time climbing on them and getting flipped around and upside down – great fun to watch.
After a while the whole groups started moving across the slope and we were all struggling to keep up with them without sliding down the slope. I caught sight of the baby climbing into its mother’s arms and was fortunate to catch a good photo through the vines….
Once again our time with “our relatives” passed by all too quickly and we had to leave these amazingly serene creatures to their normal activities (other than entertaining us). I was once again extremely blessed with the sight of the Silverback surveying its domain as we departed.
We reached the fields at the bottom of the mountain tired but ecstatic with our experience and we prepared for our drive to Kigali where we would depart to Tanzania the next day. We were all sad to leave the gorillas but the Serengeti was calling to us…..