The wonders of Rwanda suddenly become very real when you trek through the jungle to come face to face with the noble mountain gorillas. This real life experience left Intrepid’s Jo Edgley almost lost for words…
“I always knew that it would be amazing to see the mountain gorillas of Africa, but I wasn’t quite prepared for what an impact they would have on me.
Our small group of seven headed off on the walk up the mountain with much anticipation. We were accompanied by our guide, two army personnel (in place to protect us and the gorillas from poachers), and some local porters to help carry our wet weather gear and water. Whilst it’s not really necessary to have people carry things for us, the employment of local porters helps lessen the amount of illegal logging and reduce poaching because it provides an alternative source of income.
We were told that the group of gorillas we were looking for may take up to two hours to reach. Two trackers were already in front of us and in radio contact with our guide. Fortunately for us it only took us 45 minutes to find our family group, as there are only eight gorilla groups permitted to be viewed and a group is visited only once a day.
The group we visited was made up of 4 females, 2 babies, 2 adolescent males and the biggest silver back on the mountain… he was huge! It is hard for me to describe my feeling, sitting only a short distance away from the family. The babies were making mock charges at us, the females munched away on young bamboo leaves and the big silver back preened himself as if we were not even there. It was so surreal. It felt like I was living a Discovery Channel documentary, so much so that at one stage I questioned if they where actual gorillas or men dressed up in gorilla suits!
Before I knew it our 45 mins was up and we had to leave. It was hard to walk away, but I made a promise to myself to try to return one day soon.
The future of the mountain gorilla is constantly under threat due to poachers, unstable governments, border disputes and warfare in the areas they live. By visiting the gorilla you not only get to help spread the conservation message and hopefully assist in their protection, but you will get the biggest warm and fuzzy feeling you are ever likely to experience!”
* photo by Dara Leonard – Intrepid Photography Competition