An encounter with Rwanda's mountain gorillas

The walk can be a killer. The hills are steep and you get sweaty. There are stinging nettles and thick brush to scramble through. First you hear an unfamiliar call. Then you see them. Big black blobs in the distance.

As we walked closer I looked at a fellow gorilla trekker next to me and she was welling up, it was an emotional moment I was not prepared for. Squatting down I could feel something moving to my left. Before I knew it an adult female was slowly loping towards me, I lowered my head and waited. Then in an unforgettable moment, she brushed past me. I had goose bumps as her fur touched my bare arms. I looked up and the whole gorilla-trekker group was looking at me in amazement. I was gobsmacked.

There were so many things to look at. Directly in front, two teenagers chased each other around and around a tree stump. To the right of them the silverback rolled over onto his back and let his baby crawl all over him. We spent one hour with this family, watching their every move and sometimes feeling as though they were watching ours.

Everyone in the group found it hard to decide whether they should spend their time taking photos or just be in that moment. You want to capture each move but you also need to just take it all in. No fence exists between you and there are no lines of tourists snapping away on their cameras. It’s just you and your gorilla family for one hour.

Have you experienced the mountain gorillas for yourself? Or is a gorilla-trek on your bucket list? Tell us about it in the comments section below. Or head to twitter and Facebook to upload images and share stories. 

You can meet the gorillas on our four-day Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda trek. Fancy a safari in Tanzania as well as an encounter with the gorillas? See all our trips visiting Rwanda.


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