Dream day - Mountain Gorillas Virnugu NP
Rwanda Travel Blog› entry 10 of 30 › view all entries
Ok this is going to be a long journal entry so get a drink and get comfy, if you need to go toilet do it now. you dont want to miss the journal entry and photo's
Well today was the day I had dreamt about since I was a child. I managed to get some sleep but I was so excited, I got up at 4.30am . We had breakfast and made a packed lunch. Everyone was very chatty and excited. We got picked up at 5.30am there was a mini bus and a pick up truck which myself, Sam and Cathy got into. It was around a 20-minute drive to the park. We were able for the first time to see the chain of volcanoe's where the mountain gorillas were living on. The view was superb, mist and clouds over the volcanoe's . There was farmland so close to the volcanoe's and the people were already up doing their jobs.
We arrived at the park where we had a cup of tea and had a look at the information boards and the gift shop.
The guides were putting out signs with the different gorilla groups on them. Are guide came over and introduced himself and his co leader. The group we were going to see was called Sabyino. He told us all about the family, we were going to see the oldest and biggest silverback on the mountain it was 35years old and weighed 220lb. The other adult silverback is thought to be dead after having a fight with the alpha male, the last time they saw him he had terrible bites marks etc and they never saw him alive again.
There was a nice 30minute drive to the start where we would then get told more. So we all got in the mini bus. Everyone was so quite and deep in their own thoughts and just waiting to see the gorillas. We drove through the countryside then made it to are destination is was right next to a village, which was strange to see people living so close but I knew there was a problem with poachers and farmers killing the gorillas in the past. We got out and the armed guards were there waiting for us.
We had a nice slow walk to the edge of the forest. The views were breathtakingly stunning. I stopped to take photo's and some video to show the people back home. You had the tall lush green chain of volcanoes and then the farmland below it was beautifull. We stopped at the edge and got given the rules. They were pretty simple but very important for the safety of us and for the well being of the gorillas. We crossed the border between farmland and forest this was just a stonewall to keep the animals of the farmland.
We walked and sometimes had to get right down on our hands and kness to get under the vegetation for around 40 minutes. It was nice to be getting some exercise, the vegetation was so thick and hard to get through. We then got stopped and we could hear in the distance branches breaking. Our guide told us to be quite, so we all stood dead still, he got on his radio quietly and then informed us that the trackers were up ahead and that they had found the gorillas. I was so excited my heart was pounding, we followed the guide and he told us to put are packs and sticks down but to take any valuables with us but no food or anything that gives of strong scent.
We followed the guide and the co guide followed behind.
Within minutes we had our first sighting it was a female with her baby they were maybe 7ft away from us. My heart was racing and I could not believe my eyes I was finally here face to face with the mountain gorillas. We all stood around and watched her eating and then grooming the baby, they were so cute and didn’t seem to care that we were there. Then the female looked up I looked straight into her deep dark eyes what an amazing moment words cant express how I felt or what it was like to be there. To be this close was so surreal I will always remember this moment.
Then all of a sudden the mother with her baby started to move behind us, so the guide got in front said cameras down and we had to move back.
I was in shock for a moment I had actually been touched by a mountain gorilla as did a few of the other's I never expected to be that lucky I never dreamt of getting that close especially touched, We followed them through the thick undergrowth to the bamboo's where we seen another female gorilla, I took some photo's then my batteries died luckily I had more I was having problems taking photos because of the light and movement etc.
We crawled through the bamboo on are hands and knees at times we then reached an opening where there was a female eating her lunch.
We stood and watched for a few minute then one decided to get up and move so are guide got in front all the time making gorilla noises to keep them calm we had to move pretty fast but where we got moved to was full of nasty stinging nettles so the guides chopped them down with there machetes. Just as I though the day could not get much better the silverback turned up to see him was awesome.
To be I would say 15ft away from a 220lb silverback and to watch it eating was unbelievable we watched this massive gorilla for maybe 10 minuets untill it looked up and I broke one of the rules, dont look directly into a silverback's eyes.
On the way back in the thick bamboo was a female gorilla with two small baby gorillas they were well hidden, Then the two babies started play fighting it was comical to watch, Then one of them stood and beated his chest it was so cute then one popped his head out.
We slowly walked back people were quite and reflecting on there own thoughts and feelings. We walked back to the edge of the forest climbed over the wall and said goodbye to the volcanoes and the gorillas. We walked for 15minutes then had a break and a chat. We walked back to the mini bus and drove back to the park where we got sorted into groups. The other three were all ready back so we went over and they told us all about what they had seen and how it went.
What was funny earlier on is the gorilla farting the other's heard them having sex then the silverback came out laid down and had a cigar looking bamboo in his mouth so the Sam, Steve and Cathy had an excellent time.
We saw Emanuel and everyone told him all about it. We hung around and talked with the group and everyones showing each other there photo's they are all so good but I think mine are pretty crap I found it hard using the new camera and not knowing the setting and I only managed to record maybe 10mins as the tape run out ( Me being a dumb ass filmed 40 mins with the lens cap on, how gutted was I ) I didn’t prepare my gear last night so I am a bit disappointed that I may not have much to show the people back home. But I am so happy and the spirit of the group has totally changed it was worth the long 6 days of driving to get here and se them as Emanuel said it is very stressful for the leaders to get the group to the gorillas.