Gorilla's in the mist

Trip Start May 28, 2013
Trip End Aug 08, 2014

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Flag of Rwanda  ,
Sunday, June 30, 2013

I won't lie it was slightly embarrassing arriving at Volcans National Park into the middle of the car park which was full of Land Cruisers and Safari jeeps on the back of the equivalent of a Honda 50. That wasn't going to dampen my excitement though and I proceeded to play the poor, lonely Irish guy and bum a lift of a Dutch couple. A forty five minute drive was followed by a two hour hike through local farmland, a bamboo forest and jungle. At this point the anticipation was driving me crazy and as you all know I am not the most patient chap.
Right at that moment the guide said leave down your backpacks, food, water and turn your flashes off. It had finally arrived, we walked over a fallen tree, down a small slope and there they were. The Susa group, a family of thirty six mountain gorillas and the biggest group in the Virungas. Made up of three silver backs, black backs, females, juveniles and even a set of baby twins. The most jaw-dropping sight I have ever seen and the first one we came across was a 200 kg silver back, I can't even explain how enormous he was and we were only five metres away. To be so close to a wild animal was exhilarating and not once did I feel in any danger of these gentle giants. They are playful, peaceful and some of their mannerisms are very human like. Unfortunately we only got to spend an hour with the group, the reason for this is to reduce the stress and risk of human disease being passed to the group which could potentially kill them. It's going to be tough to top this experience during the rest of the trip and I was on a major depression for the rest of the day, but I can count myself one of the lucky one's to have had the opportunity to see these beautiful animals.
It would be rude to come to Rwanda and ignore the very sad and recent history which of course is the genocide of 1994. The majority Hutu tribe brainwashed by the government and members of state brutally wiped out over a million minority Tutsi's in only one hundred days. At the moment there are one hundred days of mourning to commemorate those lost in the genocide and it's very evident throughout the country how many people this has directly affected. I visited the Kigali genocide museum and memorial which has three mass graves holding roughly 260,000 remains. The museum was very informative and I spent an emotional three hours there trying to understand how neighbours, relatives and friends shot, bludgeoned, raped, and tortured each other in one of the most appalling atrocities in recent history. The following day we took a short trip to a memorial outside of town where 10,000 people were murdered in one day while they took shelter in a church. On top of the seats in the church remain the clothes from all the victims and behind it is a mass grave holding 45,000 remains from people killed in the local area. We were allowed down the steps to the grave which was a narrow corridor of about fifty metres and on both sides lay all the skulls and bones of the victims stacked on shelves fifteen feet high. Like the gorillas an unforgettable experience but in the most opposite of ways.
To lighten up my day I went to see the new Superman in 3D afterwards in the very modern Kigali city centre. An example of how Rwanda has moved on from the genocide and is not allowing it's recent history stop the country from progressing towards a brighter future. Tanzania bound tomorrow and two days of bone rattling and crazy driving lies ahead but the reward is a safari in the Serengeti. Photo's to follow folks, the owner of the Internet place is off to business school so I'm being kicked out.
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Lineke on

That is so awesome!!

John G on

How did I know you were going to call this one gorillas in the mist. By the way of course you were going to be depressed after the gorillas, you went to a bloody genecide meuseum. Doh.

Skan, Thomas on

you meet strange people aut ther, bring mi one home, i like them :-) Tom, Switzerland

mylittletrip on

It was double depression the day after when I went to the museum. Thomas if you send me the big tool chest I will send one back in it to help you out!Thanks for the comments guys.

Tp on

Kilgali blog very interesting how thev'e picked themselves up after what happened .iit great to meet those people and see the country as it is today .keep The blogs dcoming

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