The Verunga Massive! - Volcanoes National Park

Trip Start Sep 15, 2012
Trip End May 01, 2013

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Flag of Rwanda  ,
Monday, September 24, 2012

Gorilla Trekking! Woke up at 5.30am. Surprise! To be fair, we hadn't really slept as we were so excited for the adventure ahead!

When we arrived at the Volcanoes National Park and the 'Verunga Massive' (Said in a ravey type of voice…) we were given strong local coffee, entertained by local community drummers, dancers, and singers, and then we were split into two groups. We elected to join the medium difficulty hike while some of the others opted for the difficult hike. As it turned out both groups ended up trekking up the mountain for over 3 hours and both got to see gorillas up close and personal!

Our group had been joined by Petra and Herbert, a 71 year old german man who nearly had a heart attack half way through the trek - we asked what would happen in such an eventuality and our tracker, Louis, said they would have to stretcher him down (through thick jungle!). One of the girls on our trip suggested that they would bring in a rescue helicopter. We also had Sam in our group, who despite being told she would never walk again in 2001 managed it up the mountain using two walking sticks and lots of stubborness! Her need to cry and hit things with sticks was soon dispelled when we rounded the corner to be greeted by our first wild mountain gorilla family! What an exerience! We were within a few metres of a family of 18 gorillas, including adolescents, babies and two silverbacks! They played, scratched, slept, scratched some more, climbed trees, watched us watching them and showed such expression that you knew what they were feeling - as the storm started and the mist came down, we were sharing their discomfort (gorillas dont like rain!). Our one hour limit soon ran out, we took pictures for the first 15 minutes and then just sat in the undergrowth and watched them living in their natural habitat, how they interacted with each other and their behaviour in a range of different activities. They were amazing. Dian Fossey (Gorillas in the Mist) is buried up in this range of volcanoes and this is where she studied and tried to conserve the wild gorillas resulting in her murder. We could understand why she fell in love with them. The other group had a similar experience but got to see twin gorillas only 18 months old and walked back through a village which had not seen white people for 8 years - this resulted in about 200 kids from the neighbouring villages running alongside the trekkers as they descended the foothills! Bizarre experiences!

We arrived back at the truck and Sam, Hannah, and Simone had lost the power of speech through exhaustion. Weak. Vikki and I were fine. Residual fitness for two fat birds. Tash, we are eating rice and beans most days and hiking for miles. Up at 5am and bed by 10pm. You have lost that 10 bet, mate. Start saving now.

We got a certificate for seeing gorillas (didn't quite get that concept - what had we done to deserve a certificate!) so we decided to drink some vodka to celebrate! We got ready and headed to Aluns girlfriend s place (I mean Bellas place!) for a meal. The steak wasn't rare as requested but they did a fine job considering they had a power cut for most of the day. We had drank enough vodka not to care and weeing by candlelight is strangely calming. Home to the tent and and some pre-sleep gossip in the magical garden. Looking forward to our relaxing day tomorrow...
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Tash on

You are in Africa after all girls but alas, no such weight loss will be imagined in the food heavens of south America and Asia!!! Weigh less now and u can put it all back on there!!! Gorillas look AMAZING!!! Must have felt at home girls - or do orangutans get on with gorillas?! Not sure...

annewardell on

did the baby gorilla look like Chrissie when he was a toddler?! (only joking, babe!) Looks wonderful & how great to be able to get so close to the gorilla family without upsetting them xxxx

Chris D on

Just remembered about your blog gals - had a few belly laughs at various points catching up on your adventures and minor domestics ;-) xx

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