Mountain Gorilla trek – Rwanda
We were extremely lucky to go Gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
A very early wake up had us driving along in a couple of jeeps to the park where we were assigned our Gorilla family (we had the Umubano group) and a quick talk about what would happen.
You can choose the length of your hike, which dictates which family you’re assigned, as they know roughly where each family will be they can give you an idea of how much walking you’ll do, there’s easy, medium or hard. We opted for a longer walk as we all felt like a bit of exercise, which in theory would give us a 2 hourish hike up the mountain, an hour with our gorilla family, and a 2 hour hike back.
Then you’re driven to the start point of your walk. You wait at the start point while the guides, who are in contact with the trackers, wait until the trackers have located your family, so they know which way to take you. After a 10 of 15 minute wait our guides had word that the trackers had located the gorillas, I should probably explain how this works…
The trackers follow the gorillas all day, once the gorillas have bedded down for the evening the guides leave, they then know where to start the tracking in the morning. The guides go the the gorillas camp, which the gorillas have now left, and track them in the morning until they find them. It turns out our gorillas had decided to sprint down the mountain, so after 15 minutes we’d caught up to the trackers! We then left everything but our cameras with the armed guards (in case of angry bush buffalos we were told) and go hang out with the gorillas for an hour.
We machete’d through the jungle for a few minutes and boom! there was Charles, the head silver back, right there just watching us watch him. You’re not supposed to get closer than 7 metres of the gorillas but I don’t thing the gorillas use the metric system because boy do they come close! One guy in our group even got grabbed on the leg by a large female.
After an amazing hour (which seemed like 10 minutes) of watching them basically play like a bunch of toddlers we left the gorillas in peace. So far this has been one of the highlights of our trip.