On the Trail of the Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park

I pushed aside the curtains of my luxurious room in the Serena Hotel that we had checked into the previous night. It was still dark, after all, it was just 4 AM. I felt a strange excitement rising in me and it took me a minute to realize its source. Today was to be the climax of our Rwanda Odyssey! We would be embarking on the trail of the Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, which was about an hours drive from the Serena Hotel. We needed to be at the Volcanoes National Park before 7 AM and hence were scheduled to leave the hotel by 5 AM.

The excitement of the day was such that every one of the 20 member entourage was up and on time to board the bus, the hotel had considerately provided packed breakfast so that we did not embark on our adventure on empty stomachs.

Rwanda

The bus was off on time and as we cruised along at we were treated to some beautiful views of the inactive volcanic mountain, Mount Karisimbi. The Volcanoes National Park houses in its fold 5 of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains. Apart from Mount Karisimbi, they are Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga, and Sabinyo.

Rwanda

The drive across some of the most stunning landscapes of Rwanda was, to say the least, exhilarating. The emerald green pastures with the backdrop of the mountains seemed surreal in the early morning light. It seemed as if a giant painting had come to life in vivid colours.

Rwanda

We arrived at the Volcanoes National Park reception centre well in time and trooped out of the bus full of anticipation.

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

The Volcanoes National Park reception centre itself was buzzing with activity, guides and rangers moved around smartly turned up in their khakis. A big circular enclosure served as a place to get some hot coffee or tea.

Afrcan Dancers at Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

In the lawns just beyond this circular enclosure we were greeted by the hypnotic beats of African drums as local dancers swayed rhythmically to the mesmerising music. It was a riot of colours blending with pulsating music and tinged with the graceful movements of the dancers. The performance set the tone for the day and our heart beats quickened in anticipation of the adventure ahead even as the drum beats enthralled us.

Very soon we were divided into groups based on fitness levels, interests and degree of difficulty of the treks. Five from our group were together for one of the more difficult of the treks in which we would be trekking to meet a Gorilla family deeper in the jungles of  Volcanoes National Park. It is interesting to note that there are only 10 families of Gorillas which are accessible to visitors, the others are reserved for study and research purposes only in Volcanoes National Park. On a single day only one group of visitors of maximum 8 members can visit one Gorilla family which means only 80 people are lucky to rendezvous with the Gorillas on any single day in Volcanoes National Park. This naturally means that you would need to plan and book well in advance. You need to get a Gorilla Permit to be able to do the Gorilla Trek in Volcanoes National Park. All the formalities for the Gorilla trekking were taken care of efficiently by RDB (Rwanda Development Board) which is the apex organization that governs tourism in Rwanda.

Volcanoes National Parl

A big man with a broad smile greeted us and introduced himself as Oliver, he was our guide and would be leading us to the Ntambara family of Gorillas, deep in the jungles of the Virunga Volcanic Mountains in Volcanoes National Park. We milled excitedly around Oliver who quickly and professionally gave us a briefing of what lay in store for us. He explained that the family we were visiting included a baby Gorilla as well as a Silverback, an adult male Gorilla. He explained that as the male gorilla ages, the hair on his back turns silver and incredibly this is not the case for the female gorillas who retain their black colour throughout their life spans. Oliver also promised us to teach the nuances of the language used by Gorillas to communicate, later in the jungle.

And then we were off! A jeep took us across some bumpy terrain where we held on for dear life and our insides received the shake of their lives.

Volcanoes National ParkA drive of about half an hour and we reached our final pit stop from where we would begin our trek that would take us up into the mountains and deep into the jungles of the Virunga Mountains.

Trek in the jungles of the Virunga Mountains, Volcanoes National Park

This is the place where you get off your vehicles and start walking. We were given walking sticks with handles shaped into small gorillas to help us on our trek. Time would prove the invaluable nature and contribution of these sticks to our trek. This is the place where one can hire porters at a fee of around 10$ depending on what help you would need from them. They can help by carrying your backpack or helping you negotiate the more perilous bends and curves on the trek.

Volcanoes National Park

We looked at the dirt road stretching in front of us and the mountains covered with a haze in the distance. We heaved a collective sigh as we thought about the Gorilla family that awaited us somewhere behind those mountains.

Volcanoes National Park

We started off by walking through some fields and were really wondering at the degree of difficulty of the trek, not aware what the immediate future held in store for us.

Volcanoes National Park

As we trudged on, we breathed the fresh mountain air which seemed like manna from heaven to our lungs more accustomed to the polluted air of urban centres.

Volcanoes National Park

We reveled in the beauty of nature that surrounded us and seemed to hug us in a mother’s embrace.

Volcanoes National Park

Soon we started huffing and panting, stopping to catch our breaths as we started climbing, in some places the climb was difficult and you had to cling on to a rock or a creeper to hoist your way up an almost vertical cliff.

The weather conditions in the Virunga mountains are highly unpredictable. It can be sunny one moment and pouring cats and dogs in the next. We were lucky that apart from slight drizzling we were spared heavy rain, however we witnessed the changing weather conditions starkly when we reached the top of one of the mountains and were met with a sheet of silvery mist and currents of chilled air which was so reminiscent of the weather in Switzerland.

Volcanoes National Park

We had been climbing steadily and all of us were out of breath and were wondering how far the Gorillas were when our guide Oliver, calmly announced that we were till now skirting the border of the forest and would be entering it now! A small ladder lay propped up against a stone wall and a forest ranger with an AK-47 stood menacingly, however he was a sweet chap with a smile that would melt your heart. So we clambered up the ladder onto the top of the wall, only to realize that there was another ladder on the other side of the wall and we needed to descend using it.

Volcanoes National Park

Mission ladder accomplished! We followed our guide deep into the forest. There were no discernible paths, the Rangers used machetes to cut a path across the thick vegetation that consisted of bamboos, wild grass growing to more than six feet and other wild forms of vegetations. Touching one of the plants accidentally resulted in burning nettle stings on the hands. Elsewhere a couple of safari ants seemed to have taken a fancy to my legs and I had to exterminate them reluctantly with the help of a porter who was accompanying us.

Volcanoes National Parl

The ground was slushy and slippery, weeds and creepers lay, ready to trip you and send you sinking into the slush or into a bed of thorny vegetation. We cut our way through what to our untrained eyes seemed to be an impregnable forest cover in our search for the Ntambara family of Gorillas.

At this stage, Oliver got a message on his walkie-talkie that we were quite near the Gorilla family. He asked us to make as less noise as possible and we followed him to a small clearing in the forest where we were met by a few other rangers who were tracking the Gorillas. We were asked to let go of our walking sticks and backpacks here and it was time for a quick lesson about how to communicate with Gorillas from Oliver. He showed us the sounds that Gorillas made when they were in a friendly mood and what sound should be taken as a warning signal to stay at a distance. So practicing our Gorilla language we followed our guide towards our tryst with the Gorillas.

Volcanoes National Park

We stop in our tracks as we come across this dark mass, Oliver informs us that this was Gorilla poop and a thrill shoots through our beings as we realize that we are now officially in Gorilla territory. We walk in single file in the midst of tall vegetation across a path cut by the machetes of the Rangers, afraid that the sound of our heartbeats would disturb the Gorillas. We are wary of the slightest movement in the thick vegetation as we move forward in anticipation tinged with apprehension and fear at the same time.

Sighting of the Gorillas at Volcanoes National Park

And then we hear them! The silence of the forest is smitten by the blood-curdling and somewhat scary sounds of the Gorillas, probably fighting with each other or maybe playing with each other. We freeze in our tracks, hesitating to take the next step unsure where it would lead us to. But Oliver signals us to move forward, and we move forward, reposing our entire trust in his experience and wisdom. As another swish of a machete clears yet another path and we make our way gingerly through it, we have our first Gorilla sighting. He is just a few feet away from us and looks at us with eyes that seem to be mysteriously sad.

Volcanoes National Park

It was a moment that would stay etched in our memories as long as we lived, it was one of those defining moments that travel is all about. An experience which cannot be described in words, something that no picture, video or word could really do justice to. Oliver assured us that we could take pictures without using the flash and with sounds off. As I was busy taking pictures of the Gorilla in front of me, a black, burly shape whizzed past me, gently brushing me as he went past. To my incredulous amazement, it was another gorilla!  I had experienced something that probably does not figure in the bucket list of any traveler, “being touched by a Gorilla”!

Volcanoes National Park

And then we saw the Silverback, the male Gorilla and the head of the family, he looked majestic as he sat brooding in the midst of the jungle. I discreetly observed that he seemed to have the same, strange meancholia in his eyes that I saw in the other Gorilla. I did not look straight into his eyes as you are not supposed to do so, especially to the male Gorillas as they may take it as a challenge and get irritated or hostile. Actually the Silverback must have taken our intrusion into his privacy as a challenge on his territory as he stood up and let out a war cry thumping his chest, a couple of times when we were there.

Volcanoes National Park

A little distance away from the Silverback we found this mother Gorilla lovingly cuddling her two-month-old baby and showering it with the kind of love, only a mother can. Behind her sat another of her offsprings, probably simmering with sibling rivalry, his back to the world, pining for his mother’s attention. It was the day after the world had celebrated Mothers Day and looking at the Gorilla Mother, we paid a silent tribute to the universal spirit of Motherhood and wished the Gorilla Mother a belated Mother’s day before taking our leave.

Volcanoes National Park

Elsewhere we came across this Gorilla who stretched languorously, unwilling to get out of bed, apparently a victim of the Monday morning blues.

After spending 60 life changing minutes watching this family of Gorillas and also with a feeling of guilt for having impinged on their privacy, we make our way hesitatingly away from them. I take a last look at the silverback and this time as fate could be, our eyes meet for a fraction of a second. I again see deep sorrow in the eyes and feel that the Silverback wants to communicate something. But it is time to move and I follow my group back through the jungle.

Volcanoes National Park

But I feel that I have left a part of me with the Gorilla family who look so fearful and powerful, yet are so gentle, peaceful and graceful. As I tread the path towards civilization, the sad eyes of the Gorillas haunt me and I mull over the causes for this sadness.

Are the Mountain Gorillas sad because there are only less than 1,000 of them left in the world?

Are they sad because they still remember the persecution that they have faced over the years at the hands of the wildest animal on Planet Earth, Man?

Are they crying for the hundreds of babies they lost to unscrupulous poachers over the years?

Are they sad for many of their ilk who laid down their lives fighting to the last to protect their children?

Are the Gorillas grieving over the murder of their well-wisher and friend, the American Zoologist, Dian Fossey, who today lies entombed beside the very Gorillas she loved and who had become victims of Man’s avarice and greed?

The questions whirred like a berserk fan in my mind and still do. The rendezvous with the Gorillas at the Volcanoes National Park seemed to have worked a transformation within me, it had been an experience that only the blessed or chosen few can have, an experience that touches you deep within and changes you at the core.

An adventurous Gorilla trek to meet the endangered mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda is an unforgettable experience in Africa. I know that Africa holds the promise of many exciting wildlife experiences in places like Cape Town, Serengeti, and Masai Mara and I hope I get to be a part of much more.

If you want to have a more immersive experience of the Gorilla trek and feel the excitement of getting close to the gentle giants, do watch our vlog here:

 

Have you had such life changing encounters with wild animals? Do share your thoughts with us through the comments section.

 

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Volcanoes National Park Volcanoes National Park Volcanoes National Park
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Rwanda, East Africa related posts:

Why we cried at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda

This article about Gorilla Trek in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, Africa was also published on Huffington Post. Check it out here

 

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107 thoughts on “On the Trail of the Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

  1. Nina Zara Reply

    I enjoyed reading your post! Gorilla trekking in Rwanda was my top experience in East Africa so far and i think I had may of them:) I saw Agasha group.

  2. Alli Smith Reply

    What an exciting trip! I’ve never seen gorillas in the wild before so I hung on to every word and loved learning a little more about gorillas. They do look kind of sad.

  3. Mike Cotton Reply

    Ah I am very jealous. I would love to visit Rwanda and see the gorillas in their natural habitat. Great article, you’ve stirred some serious wanderlust.

  4. Chrysoula Reply

    This is definitely a trip of a lifetime. I have been on a safari in Kenya that I really enjoyed. I am looking at returning to Africa. A gorilla safari in Rwanda sounds amazing thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. Jenni Reply

    OMG I am so jealous of this it looks absolutely amazing. I am going to go and do some research now as I really really want to go and see the gorillas. I bet it was a amazing experience.

  6. robin rue Reply

    WOW!!!!!!! What an amazing experience. I am totally jealous. I would love to go on this adventure someday.

  7. janella panchamsingh Reply

    They are so beautiful. But i don’t know if i would be able to have the guts to walk in their territory, judos to you for doing it. It looked like alot of fun

  8. Jess C Reply

    Wow this looks like an unbelievable trip! I would love to go and see them up close and personal, but I’m sure I would be scared!

  9. Jeanette Reply

    What an amazing adventure! I would love to be able to go explore like this! I have never been there, but it is definitely a place I want to go. I am SO glad you got to see some gorillas!

  10. Jaime Reply

    What an amazing experience. Gorillas are beautiful animals, and I’m in awe that you were able to get so close to them in the wild. I can only imagine why they had the sadness in their eyes.

  11. Deborah Cruz Reply

    Wow! What an amazing experience. I love those indescribable, once in a lifetime moments that happen. I’ve had these sorts of moments of varying magnitudes over my travels, as well. Amazing!

  12. Christy Maurer Reply

    When I saw Gorillas in the Mist the first time, I wanted to go work with gorillas! This would be such an amazing trip! I am sure that climb was crazy though.

  13. Liz Mays Reply

    Oh wow, what a journey. It’s really cool that you get to go on this kind of adventure to see the gorillas. I can’t believe you were able to get close enough for a gorilla to actually brush past you!

  14. Mimi Green Reply

    First of all, I was reading this like it was a book. I was so invested in the story. I’m heart started beating fast as if I was there. The pictures are stunning, what an incredible experience. I so want to do this.

    The poop was massive.

  15. JenellBStewart Reply

    This was amazing. I learned a lot about the Rwandan genocide in college. The wild life photos are so beautiful. I could tell that silver back was the leader as soon as I saw him. I shared the pics with my kids and my son said “Wow thats a big poop!”

  16. Chantell Collins Reply

    What a suspenseful story! I was on the edge of my seat while reading this, hoping that your long hike would pay off with a gorilla sighting. And it did! The photos are incredible, I can only imagine how amazing it was to be there. Also to be touched by the one that went past. You are very luck!

  17. Angelic Sinova Reply

    What an amazing experience! Volcanoes National Park definitely sounds like a must visit. I love animals so much and being able to see them up close and personal is always a fun treat.

  18. Deborah Nicholas Reply

    oh my goodness what a fabulous once in a lifetime opportunity! This is definitely up on my bucket list but something i can never see happening!

  19. Susan Reply

    This is my favourite post of yours so far – you really made me feel like I was there with you. It must have been amazing to see the mother and baby and also the sad silverback. We really need to respect these majestic animals

  20. Annemarie LeBlanc Reply

    What an experience to see gorillas in their natural habitat. The photo of the mother gorilla and her offsprings is so sweet! The alpha male looks so huge, but he has the saddest eyes I have ever seen.

  21. Tamara - @girlswanderlust Reply

    It’s an early start of the day, but you got a great experience in return! Whoa, what a landscapes and how beautiful is it to see the gorillas from so close! I’ve never seen gorillas in wild and cannot wait to visit the Volcanoes National Park myself! 🙂

  22. Jennifer Reply

    You are very brave for journeying into the wild to see the gorillas. I think it is really good that they are in their natural habitat, although I know poaching is a big problem for exotic animals. The gorillas looks so beautiful! I have always been fascinated by gorillas because of their beauty, great strength, and intelligence. I think people don’t give gorillas they credit they deserve and instead mistreat them. Very sad to know about the murder of Dian Fossey. How incredibly sad she was murdered!

  23. Anita Anderson Reply

    Wow that experience must have been amazing. Just thinking that a gorilla walked past you and lightly tapped you was that aha moment.

  24. Candy Reply

    Wow! You captured some amazing photos and you were so close to them! What an amazing experience. It sounds like quite the trek and I definitely would be in the novice group of hikers.

  25. Katie Kinsley Reply

    Oh, wow! That would be an amazing trip entirely! I have not been to the continent of Africa, but I would love to see gorillas in their natural habitat.

  26. Bella Reply

    This looks like an amazing trip! The baby gorillas are so adorable! This is definitely going on my travel bucket list!

  27. Juliette | Snorkels to Snow Reply

    What a trek! Firstly it looks quite exhausting before you even get to the gorillas – but wow, how incredible to actually see them and hear them! I love how you were welcomed first with the African drumming, what a marvellous experience.

  28. Dawn McAlexander Reply

    What an amazing trip this must have been. I would not have been able to do the hike, but to hear about your adventures with the gorillas was so awesome. That is the trip of a lifetime.

  29. Nicole Anderson Reply

    What a truly amazing experience and one that not many can ever claim to have had. How many people can say they have had a brush against a gorilla in the wild? Aside from the special time you were able to have watching the family, that will always be a moment you will remember for sure. Fabulous photos as well.

  30. Siddhartha Joshi Reply

    Love the post! This was one of my favourite places in Rwanda and though it was rather expensive, I did it still…who knows when will I come back again to Rwanda 🙂

    I also had one gorilla come and touch my leg…it was thrilling and scary both 🙂

  31. christine K Reply

    Such an incredible experience from the very beginning. It must have been difficult not knowing how far you would have to trek and even if you would be able to find the gorilla family after all that work. Thank goodness you were able to have such an amazing encounter and it was everything you hoped it would be. Really enjoyed reading about your experience.

  32. Emily Reply

    I can’t believe you got to see gorillas in the wild. To say I am jealous is a vast understatement. This sounds like an incredible experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity, you are soo lucky. Happy travels.

  33. rika Reply

    Oh wow, beautiful! I would love to visit this National Park! My kids love wild animals.

  34. Wendy Reply

    This is so high on my bucketlist. Tears in my eyes, just by reading your post, so I can’t imagine what it must be to experience this in real life. But before I go, I have to get in shape. How long did it take you to reach the family?

    • Voyager - Sandy & Vyjay Post authorReply

      Thanks Wendy. We need to be quite fit as the trek is tedious especially if it is drizzling or if the path is wet. It takes around 4 to 5 hours to go and come back depending on the location of the Gorilla family. It is not fixed.

  35. Danijela WorldGlimpses Reply

    Oh, this sounds so lovely! I mean, the trek itself looks amazing, those local dancers, the landscape along the way… And I can only imagine the excitement when seeing gorillas, after sooo many hours of trekking. Sounds like one great adventure, thanks for sharing! 🙂

  36. Patti Reply

    I saw the gorillas in Rwanda years ago and your post brought back great memories. Fortunately even though it rained the day before and after our trek it was dry and sunny during the entire trek.

  37. Ilana Reply

    Great post! Love the step-by-step description of the journey! Such an unique experience!

  38. Carol Cassara Reply

    I think it’s amazing to be able to see gorillas up close. I would rather experience it like this than to go to the zoo and see a gorilla encaged, alone.

  39. Elizabeth O. Reply

    It is definitely worth the journey once you see how magnificent the gorillas are. I’m sure it’s unforgettable and it’s quite a learning experience too, especially since you get to observe them.

  40. My Teen Guide Reply

    Awesome experience! I have never been to Rwanda (yet). If I do, I will make sure I avail of this unique trip to Volcano National Park to see the gorillas in the wild.

  41. Kevin Nightingale Reply

    Wow. What an amazing experience. I would love to see gorillas in the wild. I can only imagine the anticipation on that day as you’re trekking through the forest. Great post

  42. Paige W Reply

    Wow! This is definitely a dream experience for me! Have they found that the more rugged of a trek you go on the better chance you have at seeing one of the families? Or are there some in every area that they take groups on? I know that rush at seeing poop and knowing you’re close to something you’ve been dying to see! Glad it was a successful trek!

    • Voyager - Sandy & Vyjay Post authorReply

      There are only 10 groups of Gorillas that are available for the tourists. Some other groups are not accessible and are reserved for research purposes. The 10 groups also keep moving in the forest. But their are Rangers who track their movements and know where each group is. tourists are assigned groups based on their fitness, so those with lower levels of fitness would get the easier trek. But there is no guarantee of the time as the gorillas may move further. But everyone gets to meet the gorillas irrespective of the degree of toughness of the trek.

  43. Rosey Reply

    I bet the sticks did come in handy! Sounds like an amazing adventure, def. awesome memories to be made.

  44. Marge Reply

    It is so refreshing to read about Rwanda and know about the places to visit there. I haven’t been reading a lot about this country. I even thought it was dangerous, now I know that it isn’t thanks to your articles. Anyway, before reading this, I thought you were going to a zoo where you can see the gorillas, so I was a bit surprised that you had to do a long and difficult trek into the forest to see them. Wow what an adventure. It would have made me really excited. To see animals in their natural habitat is way better than seeing them on the zoos. And I can see what y0u mean about seeing sadness in the gorilla’s eyes. It is evident even on the photo. My heart goes out to him.

  45. Ronnie Reply

    What an adventure! We always have such negative connotations when thinking of Rwanda and it’s difficult to see past it and instead focus on the value of its nature, people and culture. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into this perspective.

  46. Joan Narciso Reply

    What a thrilling experience! I can only imagine how terrifying and exciting this was at the same time. Their eyes indeed look sad, and I wish we could hug them but of course, we just have to let them be. I’m sure you’d always look back at this moment with a flood of emotions. Thanks for taking us to this trip through this story.

  47. Nina Danielle Reply

    This is absolutely remarkable! I can’t believe how close you were to the gorillas… and nice to hear such a fun and exciting story come out of Rwanda!

  48. Marielle Altenor Reply

    This must have been a life-changing experience. I’ve only seen a few animals, and that was only at the zoo. I think I would have been freaked out the see the gorillas but excited at the same time.

  49. neha Reply

    It’s nice to see and experience how the gorillas actually live in their natural habitat. And you were really lucky, not only did you see them, but as you said, even got ‘touched by a gorilla’!! 🙂 The trek looks a little difficult with so much of walking on the rough terrain, but at the end, it did pay off. Isn’t it?

  50. Fábio Inácio Reply

    Ahhh so good, i will be in Africa ( Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda) next December, January, and February… I got so excited reading your post and looking at your pictures, what an amazing experience. Can´t wait to go 🙂

  51. Only By Land Reply

    This is high on my list of things to do, visit the Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. It’s quite a trek and I’m looking forward to it. You took some fantastic images of the trek, the changing weather and of course the gorillas!

  52. Sally Reply

    OMG this has been on my bucket list forever! I’m so jealous you got to go! I had no idea the trek was so challenging but those pictures make it totally worth it 🙂

  53. Claire Reply

    This has to be one of the most amazing experiences on the planet. Such a privilege to see these wonderful animals in the wild, it is so sad that there are so few left. I hope to be able to visit one day before it’s too late!

  54. Hang Around The World Reply

    This is an experience that everyone should try at least one time in life time! My hope is that fauna and local animals can have the respect they deserve. People have to protect them!!

  55. Maria Reply

    This is truly an awesome experience! To get so near to the gorila family and to take such amazing photos must have been breathtaking.

  56. Julie Syl Reply

    What an adventurous you had! I’ve never seen a family of Gorillas in person, these photos are really amazing.

  57. nisha Reply

    What a wonderful early morning you guys have had. I would have loved to be touched by a gorilla . Will I faint? 🙂 🙂
    I think meeting Gorillas is defintely a high point of Rwanda . I have added to this list (but not being touched by gorilla ..hahaha)

  58. LaiAriel R. Samangka ( Thelittlelai: Beyond limits) Reply

    This looks like a great hike. I haven’t seen a Gorilla in person yet, and this one makes me excited to see it in person. The trail looks challenging and kind of adventure I like. I also love how you have immersed yourself with locals which makes your travel experience great. I haven’t been to this place yet, and hopefully I could get the chance and traipse my feet here.

  59. Angie (FeetDoTravel) Reply

    Viewing gorilla’s is something I have wanted to do for many many years now! I was actually booked onto a tour to see them back in 1997 in Uganda, but it was a time of huge political unrest and tour companies stopped visiting for a while so, sadly I haven’t had a chance to do this yet. Your story is amazing, it truly is! Gorillas are magnificent, I am so glad you had such a memorable encounter with them. #feetdotravel

  60. Garth Reply

    What an incredible experience! Bucket list stuff, something we’d love to do one day! thanks for sharing your story.

  61. Ava Meena Reply

    Wow! What a beautiful place and fun, if unusual, adventure! You certainly had to work to see those gorillas, though. Glad to hear that you enjoyed this trip so much. 🙂

  62. sophie Reply

    This certainly looks an amazing wild adventure! Gotta visit this place someday! Thanks for sharing! Cheers!

  63. Gabriela Reply

    I’m traveling in Africa right now, and I really want to see the gorillas. It’s just so damn expensive! Rwanda just increased the price and now you have to pay $1500 just for the permit!!

  64. Marcus and Mel Reply

    An amazing experience, I remember watching David Attenborough with the gorillas on TV when I was younger and thinking how fascinating it was.

  65. Wendy Reply

    What a unique and exciting experience! That for sure is one every traveler dreams of! Your pictures are great! Thanks for sharing the article!

  66. Bob R Reply

    What an amazing trip. They do look very melancholy, as if they were thinking, “Oh great, more humans today.” 😉

    I was in Uganda recently but didn’t have the time for the Mountain Gorilla trip there. A reason to return.

  67. Anita Reply

    You have been very privileged to have this experience as only one group of visitors of maximum 8 members can visit one Gorilla family a day. So not so many people could do that. Thanks for sharing your very special experience.

  68. Iza Abao Reply

    This was an incredible experience! I do think that there are only a few people who get to see gorillas really close. The tour guide must be an expert in navigating the jungle. This was a strenuous hike but it was totally worth it.

  69. Adrenaline Romance Reply

    That is an amazing, lucky encounter. Seeing a Silverback gorilla in the wild is a very rare opportunity. We would definitely visit here considering that we are nature lovers.

  70. Carola Reply

    I visited the gorillas a few years back in Bwindi, Uganda. It was a humbling and elating experience at the same time.
    The thing that made me smile when I looked at your photos just now was how the guides, the rangers, and the porters swiftly move up and down the slopes, in their wellies, while we tourists in our outdoor gear are slipping and sliding and huffing and puffing 🙂

    Happy continued travels!
    C

  71. Agnes Reply

    Oooh how I would love to experience this. I totally get it that no words or pictures could describe it. I am glad though, that not many people are allowed to do this. Otherwise the place would be destroyed.

  72. DEAN WILLIAMSON Reply

    I can only imagine but this must be one of the most amazing experiences you can have interacting with nature. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  73. Liana Reply

    I’ve never been to Rwanda, but I’ve been reading a lot about it and I have some friends who have been sending me photos, and reading you makes me want to go asap! It’s on top of my bucket list!

  74. Corinne Reply

    Sandy, I did love this article. We just recently visited the Ugandan gorillas and the experience sounded very similar. As you write, it was a travel memory that only comes once. It’s was mesmerizing. We loved it as I can tell you did.

  75. Elisa Reply

    What a beautiful post. I am still hesitating to go to Rwanda or Uganda because of the price but I definitely want to see the gorillas by myself. Hopefully next Christmas 🙂

  76. Ambuj Saxena Reply

    India has only one active volcano, Barren islands, which is out of bounds for a normal tourist. I have read so many theories about how volcanoes came about be it the Morgan’s theory or the Plate Tectonics theory so Volcanoes national park sounds amazing! Spotting gorillas is like icing on the cake.

  77. Punita Malhotra Reply

    Walking in the wild without a vehicle….quite an adventure, I suppose. Trekking in that thick forest would have been quite an experience, specially because you never know where the animals are hidden.

  78. Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler) Reply

    A wonderful and moving article. So amazing to see the gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park. The trekking looked hard but exhilarating but worth the adventure. I had just seen a show on TV about how the numbers are starting to go up for the Gorillas there and how I would love to visit. I pinned this for later. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  79. Megan Jerrard Reply

    This is probably one of the most incredible wildlife experiences in the world, and it’s at the top of my list. How phenomenal to have a silverback brush past you and actually make contact!! I’ve heard that this is a challenging trek, but every review of the experience has always said it was the most worthwhile experience they’ve ever had, and that even though the 60 minutes was fleeting, it’s been etched into their memories every since. Thankyou for sharing your photographs and your experience.

  80. Shona @ paraphernalia.co Reply

    What an experience! I was with you the entire way. Your pics of the gorillas are sensational and I can definitely see the sadness you observed. Yes is the answer to all of your questions, sadly.

  81. Vicki Louise Reply

    Tracking the gorillas is one of my dreams and I can’t wait to go back to East Africa next year to fulfill it. I just know they are going to make me work for it though – and am fully expecting a few hours of arduous trekking to reach/find them!

  82. Claire Reply

    I bet you never will forget that moment. This sounds like an incredible adventure to have. Love the greeting you got too. Glad you enjoyed yourself

  83. Shruti Prabhu Reply

    Quite a unique experience. Africa is on our bucket list! Loving your Africa posts! Such a well written post. Felt like we were there. Gorillas are so fascinating. Must be amazing to see them up close.

  84. Barb Reply

    Seeing those huge gorillas so closely must have been a great experience. I hope to visit Rwanda one day and see those animals as well.

  85. Trisha Velarmino Reply

    This is where I love to see Gorillas and other animals, not in the zoo! The experience must be surreal seeing how they live their lives in their natural habitats. This is how it should be.

  86. Hazel Tolentino Reply

    One of the reasons why I want to go to Africa – to see wildlife! They are supposed to be in their natural habitat and not in the zoo! Hmmm. I am just curious, aren’t Gorillas territorial?

  87. Danik Reply

    I love to see animals in their natural habiat and I hope gorillas will be here for a long time to come. Looks like you had an amazing day and I love the way you wrote this post, beautifully written.

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