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Ubumwe

"Ubumwe"

 

Thinking

" Contemplating- a Mountain Gorilla lost in thoughts, Rwanda "

I started New Years Day the same way I spent the night before, wide awake and running on adrenaline. This New Years Day adventure is my all time favorite wild life encounter that Africa has to offer, go trekking to locate the  Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda.

 

The Parc National des Volcans National Park in Rwanda is home to an amazing primate, the Mountain Gorilla. There roughly 650 or so Mountain Gorillas alive today and they all live in the wild. Rwanda is home to 260 Mountain Gorillas with 5 troops available for ecotourism. I arrived at the main entrance of the park to in with roughly 40 other people. We were divided into groups for orientation and then trekking for the chance to see this rare great ape. I was part of a group made up about nine that was to visit the Amahoro troop. We were told that our troop was high up and we would have a challenging hike. The Parc National des Volcans National Park is heavy rain forest that is jungle on volcanoes, and our troop of gorillas were high up above an old crater turned lake.

The hike up the mountain side was a test of endurance as we slowly but steadily climbed and gained altitude. The jungle is amazing and full of hazards everywhere, Nettle plants would sting any exposed flesh while vines and roots seemingly reached out to trip you. The rain forest was also humid and the ground was slick, sometimes we would hike across the top of folaige balancing on vines and roots while searching for the gorillas.

 

Rwanda rain forest

" A view of the terrain displaying the path ahead, Parc National des Volcans National Park, Rwanda. "

 

Crater in lake

" A small lake is hidden away inside the crater on an ancient volcano"

As we reached the summit our guide told us that the gorillas should be on the other side of the crater from were we were standing, he took this time to go over some on the edicts that we need as well as collect our our walking sticks and drinking bottles. I was told that it was very important not to have anything on your person that might entice the gorillas. The excitement of seeing the king of the primates kept my adrenaline high, we we told that the gorillas were just on the other side of the crater and once we were close to the first gorilla we had one hour to visit. After the long hike through dense rain forest the jungle left my muscles burning from the climb, once I spotted the first Mountain Gorilla any pain I felt from the hike immediately disappeared and a feeling of pure joy enveloped me.

First gorilla sighting

"  My first ever sighting of a Mountain Gorilla, Parc National des Volcans National Park in Rwanda. "

 

The Amahoro troop of Mountain Gorillas was the group we would spend the next hour with. The troop consisted of 13 gorillas including 2 Silver backs. One of the silver backs was lame as I found out because he lost his hand in a poachers trap. The dominant Silver back of the troop is named "Ubumwe" and was in control of the troop. As my guide led me closer to the troop we found them all together eating on the side of a steep incline. Just like that here I was between 13 gorillas as the the older ones including a Black back ate and moved around in a very relaxed manner while the young ones were playing having a good old time.

 

Gorilla sitting

" Taking a break, Parc National des Volcans National Park, Rwanda."

Ubumwe was watching over everything as he circled around the proceedings, This was to be the fastest hour ever, the time vanished as I was so caught up with the Amahoro troop and their activities. The Amahoro troop also boast a very rare occurrence, twins! The magic of these amazing creatures is how many emotions they solicit from you, when you make eye contact with a young gorilla and it's face suddenly boast an expression of recognition and a  connection occurs.

 

Two gorillas

"Two Mountain Gorillas just being gorillas."

 

Up close with Ubumwe

" Up close with Ubumwe, the Sivler back of the Amahoro troop, Parc National des Volcans National Park, Rwanda."


The hour was done and it was time to leave. Our group gathered once we were away from the gorillas and shared all of our excitement. We all agreed this new Years Day was the best ever and I confess the experience had me slip away to the side to have a cry because my emotions were jacked. I gathered myself and rejoined the group to start our hike back home. About half way back down the mountain side my body was screaming at me as exhaustion set in. Once we reached the bottom I was overwhelmed by my long day that stared roughly 48 hours earlier however I needed to do one more thing before I left Parc National des Volcans National Park behind. A young man had his table of carved gorillas set up hoping tosell some souvenirs. I could not help but purchase a few of the gorillas from the entrepreneur.

gorilla salad

"Gorilla Salad", the painting. 

 

My goriila

"  My adopted Mountain Gorilla."

Norm's Images

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