Gorilla goosebumps

silverback gorillas

You can’t get a much more heart-thumping moment than coming face to face with a magnificent mountain gorilla. Alessandra McLachlan’s adrenalin was racing during her memorable encounter in Rwanda

“While our group was watching the antics of young gorillas, I noticed one of our guides beckon me to follow him. The guide and I came to a clearing where an alpha male gorilla was laying on his stomach and holding up his head with his left hand. He was peaceful and almost seemed bored. I am not sure why I did this, but I dropped to my knees and both the gorilla and I looked deeply into each others eyes.

I know that was perhaps a little dangerous, but the alpha male of the Sabinyo family was very relaxed and did not perceive me as a threat (probably because of my size and the fact that I am a female). We sat there, looking at each other for about 5 minutes. I had goose bumps all over and was overcome by the feeling that I was completely disarmed and I felt like that particular gorilla was able to look into my soul.

He was a very intelligent being who walked the thin line between protecting and providing for his family in a such wild place (I guess in a way I felt like I could see deep into his soul as well). I was almost in a trance. I did not even realise that other members of our expedition were joining us, until the alpha male stood up and started beating his chest. He did that while looking at the newcomers. I was still on my knees and he took a last peaceful look at me and then disappeared into the foliage.

Our group spent about another 30 minutes with the gorillas. I was very emotionally shaken and my heart was racing (not in fear, but for the quality time I spent with the gorilla). I was not sure if I would see him again… then just as our time with the family expired, the male gorilla called out and the entire family walked right in front of me. I could not keep my eyes off the alpha male and can swear that he did steal a glance directly back at me. I will never forget my connection to that powerful and intelligent being!”

Tour Rwanda with Intrepid on trips like these great small group adventures:
Gorillas, Chimps and Game Parks – 16 days
Gorillas to Vic Falls – 39 days

To find out more about travelling with Intrepid and for your chance to WIN a trip in every edition, subscribe to Intrepid Express, our free e-newsletter. Plus you can become a fan of our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter!

* photo by Petra Groot – Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

Similar Posts


Christian Friborg / Reply

Oh, I remember Tarzan here. I think it’s awesome to be surrounded by gorillas!

Leave a reply