May 19, 2015

‘I waited seven weeks for this point, I walked 4 hours,’ read this journalist’s recount of their trip to Rwanda

written by muka

This article has been loosely translated , however , you can find the original here.

I walked 4 hours and waited 7 weeks for this view

With the extinction of endangered mountain Gorillas at a critical level, 29,200 people can see these mountain gorillas every year. I was one of the lucky ones to see them. I spent 1 hour with the silverback mountain gorillas in Rwanda. It was Extraordinary

I have always passed over the River Nile before daylight. As I was passing through a miracle of yellow desert river. Surrounded by lush … I passed the night, this time over the Nile gives life to arid regions. The river at the edge of settlements would divide the yellow lights spiraling night. Still beautiful, still it was fascinating

Rwanda plane departing from Istanbul that lasted seven hours to reach this small country of Central Africa, There are 880 mountain gorillas remaining in the world, I first heard the idea, I began to make preparations for seven weeks I have watched Gorilla movies, I gathered information. To Lie down and I stand with the gorillas. As a result, it can be seen in only three countries: Rwanda, Congo and Uganda, However, the chance of seeing the Gorillas outside of Rwanda is very small.

We travelled about three more hours after Ruanda’s Capital Kigali. We arrived at the Volcanoes National Park. Supplied at the foothills of the Virunga Mountain I couldn’t give all my attention to the informational meeting. Because of the natural environment, it’s like a zoo. Trying to figure out what the giant bird hanging from a tree a few yards away from us, and to which species of other birds it belongs to was a guessing game.

I focused on the small meeting once it was explained that Eye Contact with the Gorillas was a must. The Park Guide Roger Aman was giving information about the Mountain Gorillas. We were going to go with a group of 8. The name of the family we were going to see was Sabyinyo… They were considered the regions most sophiscated family. Silvered back Male “Alpha Gorilla” the Groups leader was exactly 44 years old. He was living the final moments of his life. The heir was apparent, the group had a total of 17 members. 6 were female and there were 4 offspring. The photographs were individually showcased. The Alpha Gorilla Guhonda eats about 35 kilos of grass daily. The more information I receive I start becoming excited and I can’t stand still. I impatiently want to run to the rainforest and see the gorillas.

4 hours in a forest filled with Bamboos

It was explained in the Briefings that we would see the Gorilla’s after an hour’s walk. It wasn’t like that. The bamboo in excess of five meters in length, splashing out into the mud we walked for about four hours. In the hands of the machete in front while he was cutting the bamboo to allow the passage guide. We were traveling with our two armed protection and guide Roger in the rain forest.
Roger, I was constantly getting information from the tracker in front. No Gorillas in sight. Roger said that they switched places every day to find new food sources, but they would find them. While waiting, Roger, showed footprints and droppings nearby; “This belongs Elephants About two weeks ago…” he said. Here he had elephants in the National Park. However, according to the normal Elephants, the more aggressive they were. He says they have their guns as a precautionary measure. We can relax!

We found them

The news came and the walk continued. We are arrived at the hill and we literally had to crawl to get there. The sounds of “go on without me” were rising within the group; it felt like a movie we didn’t leave anyone behind. Our walk ended up starting early in the morning towards noon. We arrived at a place where the One armed Protection, a tracker and a guide was located. They were in a good mood. They had GPS in hand and they were checking the coordinates, but there were no transmitters in the Gorillas. The Team was watching the place they slept all night. In the morning they showcased to adrenaline charged people coming from all over the world their Gorilla Friends.

First Look

The last warnings were being made “ Do not get too close” If the Baby Gorillas try to touch you do not run (this is a friendly behavior). Our curiosity was thru the roof. We are asking ourselves “ Come on where are they”. After walking a few meters we encounter a mother breast-feeding. I saw her eyes thru the binoculars. There was no rush and a few minutes later she stopped breast-feeding. Two naughty baby Gorillas started running. After a while the mother got bored by us and distanced herself, Later on we saw the father on the side, Guhonda like an old wolf. He was lying down and sleeping, what sleep it was “yawning” constantly. He suddenly awoke, the 240-kilo silverback was right in front of us. We stared a little; this was the daily routine for him. He scoped us for a while and then turned back started eating his green breakfast, later on he broke down some bamboo and went to different open area and we followed him.

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A Child is a Child Everywhere

Urukata and Agasozi were just 1.5 years old. They were playing and having fun. They were the only 2 that did not care that we were even there. The others did not even care also. They allowed us to observe them, At times when there is eye contact they appear to do something but the guides next to us using Gorilla sounds to calm them down. The guides understand their language living with them for so many years. The two baby Gorillas were so close we could touch them. They were constantly playing, climbing on top of each other and they were giving us great pictures. If felt like we were like in a movie for an hour. Once the Guides told us it was time to go it felt like the dream ended. Then we headed back on the road. The photographs and videos we took would not be forgotten for the rest of our lives.

Green Spotlessly Clean

Ruanda means in their language “ A land of a thousand hills” They are approximately the size similar to Ankara, you can travel from one end of Rwanda to another in a couple of hours. The country is small in land size but has a large population of 12 million., that comes out to 400 people per kilometer, for this reason every place is full of people, there are not many motor vehicles and everyone walks, The economy is developing and the average teacher salary is 200 dolars. The currency used is the Rwanda Franc but the Dolar is accepted everywhere. The Capital Kigali has only one Movie Theater. The ideal time to visit Ruanda is in June-July period. The temperatures and Humidity starts to increase afterwards. The March-April is the rain season and it is low season. The Country is green and very clean. The streets are spotless and clean not even cigarette buts thrown in the streets. It is considered for this reason the Cleanest Country in Africa.

Credit to Fosses’s

The One-hour that I have spent with the Mountain Gorillas have made me recall the legendary movie ‘Gorillas’s in the Mist’ which was inspired and written by an individual who dedicated her life to Gorillas Diane Fossey, for years she lived in Rwanda with the Gorillas, she researched them and wrote books. She was killed in 1985(reason still unknown today). I recommend everyone to watch the Movie ‘Gorillas in the Mist’

A privilege to See

Three countries share the regions where the Mountain Gorillas live. There are a total of 880 Gorillas, due to banned hunting the extinction of Mountain Gorillas are at a critical level. With the help of United Nations the population Mountain Gorilla are expected to increase.

The Best place to see the Mountain Gorillas is in Rwanda. The cost of the Safari is 750 dolars. The Government of Rwanda organizes all this with RDB (Rwanda Development Board) If you want to see the Gorillas in Congo the cost is 250 Dollar, but there is a security problem in that country and you are not guaranteed to see the Gorillas. In order to see the Gorillas in Uganda you have to walk 10 hours and there is no guarantee that you will see them.

According to the information given by Linda from RDB. The numbers of people who will see the Gorilla’s every year are already known. In a day a maximum of 10 groups with a group size of 8 can see the Gorillas. This comes out to 29,200 people in a year. Linda pointed out that in the past the inhabitants of the village where Gorillas were hunted have formed Cooperation and are working towards tourism. The transition from illegal hunting to tourism is fairly new in Rwanda. Rwanda is the country that suffered the great genocide in 1994 and could only start with tourism in 2000. In a country where in 2003 there were 650 rooms today are there 8000 rooms.

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