Rwanda Gorilla Trekking
Rwanda walk with the mountain gorillas
The main attraction that brings visitors to Rwanda are the mountain gorillas. This is the main reason why people have continually flocked this land locked country with a fatal past of the genocide but with a brighter future. This country has remained on a mend and one of the cleanest country I have ever visited in many years. Here is no rubbish anywhere and the whole city is so clean. The most interesting thing about Rwanda is that it has got a national clean-up day each and every month. Everyone is supposed to participate in it and this has resulted the capital of Kigali being so outstanding outlying in the country side. It also looks like its competing with in a national tidy town competitions. This makes it a great city.
We also arrived at this city at exactly 4 am and the guide was there to check us in to Miles Colines Hotel, this hotel also features in a holly wood movie called Hotel Rwanda, this is a luxurious and comfortable hotel and we really loved its services!
The next day was a day of transferring and we were picked up by our drivers and got to spend 4 hours driving to North West of the country to Volcanoes National park which is along the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is where you will find over 700 and more mountain gorillas though there are many international boundaries.
We decided to spend a night at Mountain gorilla Lodge in Ruhengeri which is also a cool hotel situated in the gardens of the hydrangeas with in the pine forest. And the next was the day for the great primates. We drove 15 minutes to the park headquarters where we were divided into two groups of five and they added another 3 members who were from Canada and New York to make 8 individuals who are supposed to track a group. There are many gorilla families in the park and these have had several contacts with the humans, and they are always familiar with their presence. There are also many other groups which are off limits to all the tourists apart from the scientists. You also get allocated to two guides and a one gorilla group. Our group was so near to the headquarters.
Immediately after moving to the left and then right in our vehicle, we had to start walking the rest of the 400 m towards the departure point. Just from here, you can hire a porter who can carry your luggage at only $10.the walking sticks were also handed to us and off we started our journey. Ideal long clothes are advised like the long trousers, the walking boots as well as the long sleeved shirt and the water proof jacket. You are always allowed to be near the gorillas for only one hour. However at 8,500 feet altitude, it always a touch chilly. The long sleeved clothes are more for protection from the stinging nettles that can be encountered in the bush.
The stings are so painful and usually last for 24 hours in most cases. Since the mountain gorillas move a lot during the day as they look for food, this means that you will never know how long you will walk to locate them. We only took 30 minutes walking through the farmland in order to get to the park boundary, and the 30 minutes to the gorilla group so we got so lucky.
The other group had to go through a dense jungle for almost an hour with an armed game ranger with the continuous movements through the nettles. We found our group after passing through a vast bamboo grove and we were lucky to spot two baby gorillas and oh my they were so exciting and interesting. Their physical appearance was so amazing. The rangers make sure that you remain seven metres away from these animals at all the time.
Even though the distance seems to be so close, the endangered primates seem not bothered by the presence of humans. One of the rangers spoke to the gorillas with a low voice that we are friends and the responded with a positive grunt of “no worries”. He also said to the females to check on them and they then replied that they were okay. The silverback head the group and directs them were to go. This incidence is so interesting and so amazing to see in the eyes. There is also an incident when one of us went too close to the gorillas and we then heard the ranger telling this 200kg primate with quick grunts in a low sound.
It was also noticed that these primates were subjected to some sort of understanding, since two of the younger gorillas were seen hanging in the upper branches of the bamboo and also farted very loudly which was so amusing to the people in my group. We were given only 1 hour to spend with them and we were able to take photos from many different positions.
Mountain gorillas are so amazing!
It’s like am fulfilling my dream of doing a one day gorilla trek, visiting these primates has been the main highlight of my tour to Rwanda, the land of a thousand hills. It’s also known that these gorillas are the number one tourist attraction in Rwanda and have also attracted many tourists even though the gorilla permits are sold at $750 per person for a day. When I was told about the price of the permit, I first thought, it wasn’t worth the cost but it was all worth all the money I spent.
In case you want to reach the mountain gorillas, you have to travel all the way to Volcanoes National park in the north western direction of Rwanda. The hike to the gorillas can take anywhere from one to four hours depending on which family of gorillas you were allocated to trek. There are over 7 families that are open to tourists who visit the park, the other gorillas families are for research purposes. This country has also got 250 endangered mountain gorillas that live within the park and the remaining species can be found in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We were given Umubano group which means friendship in Kinyarwanda.
We also got so lucky since we hiked for only two hours, and the gorillas had moved down due to the rain that had fallen the previous night. More so before you begin the hike, the rangers will brief you about the guidelines and some of these include;
- To be able to minimize the transmission of human diseases, this is mainly done by telling the visitors to keep a distance of 7m away from the gorillas. For real, we didn’t keep one!
- In case you are sick, especially with cold, flu, and any other contagious disease, you are advised not to visit the gorillas.
- The viewing time is only limited to one hour.
- The maximum number of visitors per group is 8
- You are not allowed to spit in the park
- In case you need to cough, you need to cover your mouth and then turn away from the gorillas.
- Always keep your voice low while with gorillas
- Don’t make rapid movements which might frighten the gorillas
- In case a gorilla charges at you, don’t get scared or get alarmed, just stand still, and look away from it and also follow the ranger’s guidelines
- Always don’t litter.
By these guidelines, you can tell that they are really strict about tracking the mountain gorillas. When we arrived at them, I was so thrilled by how close we were allowed to get to them. The gorillas were also not bothered at all by our presence and also didn’t seem to care about the photos that we were taking of them. These just remained carrying out their usual activities including; cleaning each other, caring for the young ones and eating. The most exciting thing is about how we share common manners with them since you can easily see the similarities between them and the humans. By this you can tell that they have got personal relationships with one another.