Such a memorable and epic trip, trekking through the village and Mountain up into the east African jungle in search of these beautiful, illusive creatures. The Mountain Gorilla's have been subjected to uncontrolled hunting, disease, habitat loss and the ravages of human conflict. Their numbers have plummeted, and they are now considered endangered. Virunga Volcanoes National park in Rwanda is a world heritage site and home to the protected Mountain Gorilla.
The Virunga Mountains are a chain of volcanoes in East Africa, along the northern border of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda. The mountain range is a branch of the Albertine Rift Mountains, which border the western branch of the East African Rift. Wikipedia
Our day started out with a safety talk at base camp where our guide explained the rules for when we reach the gorilla's in the jungle. Once we had met the team and the other people in our group, we began our trek. We started up into the mountain toward the forest where we walked through a village. The villagers are educated by the guides and the conservation team on how to help protect the Gorilla's and how it important their conservation is, how the money brought in by tourists also help uplift the surrounding communities. Without the Gorilla's there would be no tourists and no money coming back into the communities. So the villagers all play their part in the conservation of these gorgeous beasts.
as we made our way through the village we were greeted by curious children and friendly farmers all waving hello as we walked by. After we reached the end of the village we reached the start of the forest where our guide started chopped his way through the thick bush so that we could get through some overgrown parts. The birds sounds and surrounding beauty was magnificent. We were accompanied by our really friendly guide and another 4 really warm and friendly armed guides who were in front and behind for safety. we were only walking for about 10 or 15 minutes when we were told we had reached a family unit of Mountain Gorilla's. I captured my sister and her husbands excitement in one of the pictures I took as they told us they were a couple yards from us.
The Gorilla's have a guide/guard watching over them from a distance 24/7 on rotation shifts. Therefore they have become accustomed to human's being around but every human interaction has to be from a distance so as to not pass on any human diseases or viruses onto the Gorilla's.
We stayed and watched the little ones play and annoy the teenagers whilst the Mom's and auntie's stayed close by to watch over the little ones. We then went in search for the Silver back Gorilla's. This is usually dominant male Gorilla, they are usually not too far away from the rest of the family where they usually build a nest with surrounding branches and leaves where they can relax. Finding the Silver back Gorilla was quite intimidating as he didn't seem as friendly and relaxed as the rest of the family. He just lifted his head from the ground as he lay on his stomach and stared through the grass at us as we walked by. He was absolutely massive with a beautiful grey/white back. My heart was pounding with fear and excitement as my camera shook while I tried to take photo's of him trying to not draw too much attention from him with the sounds of my camera. having a red waterproof windbreaker didn't make me feel any safer if he did come charging. He certainly never took his eyes off us while we stood watching him in his nest in awe of his sheer size and magnificent beauty!!
After spending about 30 minutes with the Mountain Gorilla's we had to leave, I really wanted to spend more time with them but definitely felt that the less time they have to be around humans the better for them. We made our way back through the jungle back down the mountain, exuberant with joy and excitement. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I am so grateful to have captured these beautiful memories for a lifetime.