Trip Start Oct 06, 2008
19Trip End Dec 22, 2008
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October 24th - Gorilla Trekking
Patrick, our now named driver arrived at our hotel right at 6am. Tranferred us to the park headquarters about half-hour out of town. Here, we got assigned the family of gorillas who we would visit, and were teamed with 6 other foreigners...and upper class lot all staying at a 300USD/night lodge nearby. Francoise and Ignatio were our guides. Francoise gave our group an overview of the "Uwumbano" family and its nine members that we were assigned. We all set off in a caravan of 4x4 Toyotas about an hour away from the park office to the trail head. The road was very muddy and rough, filled with local kids waving at the daily passing of the "muzungu". It was not raining today so we were lucky. However, it had rain the night before, so the pathways were ankle-deep of mud. We trekked for about an hour when we met up with the trackers. These trackers set out at first light to discover the whereabouts of the gorillas and radio back the location. Shortly after meeting up, we began to hear the "popping" sound of gorillas, we were close. Around a bend and we caught a glimpse of black through the thick vegetation. Moments later, a large male gorilla emerged and made himself known. He charged towards us, grunting and groaning. The guides simply stood between us and the gorilla, yelling at him like a pet owner, and the gorilla retreated. No big deal to the guides, but this huge animal was within 5 feet of us...very cool. This gorilla moved on and we followed to discover a couple young gorillas playing around on a large fallen limb. We watched the youngest, about 2 years old, playing around like a child...a furry little human. We ventured on, in hopes of seeing the big man, the dominant male Silverback. We found him sprawled out with his feet up, like a big man stretched out on the couch after a big meal. Not concerned with us at all. We circled around him to get a good look, within 10 feet of this 500lb. giant. It seemed like just another day of being stared at, in the middle of his living room, not a care at all....a truly priceless and unique experience