So haven’t been keeping up on the blog post – largely due to non-existent internet. We are now in a nice hotel that has great internet, food, and showers! (Hot). About a week ago we left Nairobi and flew to Rwanda. We stayed at the Mille Collines Hotel (from the movie hotel Rwanda). An unbelievable place, with very nice food, great rooms and lovely staff. We stayed there one night, then the next day went back to “Africa Scout Camp” traveling to the Uganda border then about 20KM into the park for the next day of Gorilla Trekking.
Our entire trip had been planned around seeing the Gorilla’s, and we were lucky to get to do it. It takes about a year to get the permits to see Gorilla’s in Uganda, and only about 8 people can go per day in each area – so you have to plan wisely. Our tour operator was able to reschedule or Gorilla trek with our schedule changes, so all was well.
The day of I think we were all a bit nervous. We had heard from others the hike was hard, other people having to be brought down from the mountain in stretchers. There’s no way of knowing where the Gorilla’s will be on a given day – near or far away – so plan to hike, maybe you get lucky and they are close, maybe not so lucky and they are a 4 hour hike away – all uphill by the way.
We were lucky, it was about a 2 hour hike in for us, and honestly wasn’t that bad compared to the volcano hike we did earlier. There are trackers ahead of you that go and find the gorillas for the day, you then hike up and into the jungle with your guides (armed with AK47s) to then sit with the gorillas for an hour. Then back down…
We were hiking as a group, then all of a sudden stopped, packs off and walked about another 20 feet around a corner. And there you have it, a huge silverback sitting there eating leaves. I could not believe how close we were to him – less than 10 feet. The guides slowly walked around, cleared some brush and we all sat down. Spent about 15 minutes sitting next to the big silverback then he moved away.
We then moved further down the hill to find a baby Gorilla and his/her mother eating. The baby gorilla came forward to within about 1 foot of Gavin, the guides coaching him out with grunts and noises. We then continued to trek, finding a mom and her baby eating leaves. In a ‘scary move’ the mom decided to move – right towards us – specifically Hayden – and within about 2 feet of him – much different than a baby – this was a real life size gorilla moving right towards you… Happily she moved by with her baby and pushed right by all of us.
We ended our hour long tour, trekked down the mountain and back to our driver – who then took us back to the border and back to Rwanda. We stayed in Ruhengeri, Rwanda.
The next day we spent driving around Rwanda on a tour, ending at a village that used to be poachers, now turned into entertainers – realizing that they make more money entertaining and conserving vs. poaching. This was inspired by a 26 year old college student who went and helped transform an entire town/village.
On our way, we found sugar cane (H using his best scouting technique to remove the outside), a quick plant massage by the lake, and some fishing boats on our journey back.