"GORILLAS" Virunga by grets

Virunga Travel Guide: 22 reviews and 53 photos

Parc National des Volcans




Our visit to Rwanda was purely in order to see the endangered mountain gorilla.




Below are extracts from my diary written at the time:

The night before

As we are talking about tomorrow’s trek and I am sharing my concern about my lack of fitness holding the others up or maybe even preventing me from reaching the gorillas, a group of Americans arrive back. They look awful! Most of them can barely drag themselves along the room, they are covered in mud and sweat and when asked how they got on, they answer “it was the trek from hell!” They’ve been trekking for ten hours, on near-vertical muddy paths through impenetrable vegetation. One girl became so exhausted and scared of tumbling down the valley that she gave up before reaching the gorillas. Now I am really worried – this could be us tomorrow!

Preapering for the trek

We set off early after breakfast tomorrow to try and get to the Park Headquarters first, but it seems other people have the same idea. Parc National des Volcans has four habituated groups of gorillas, two of which are much further away the others, and we would like to try and get the “easy” group. A maximum of eight permits are issued per group per day, and although the price of the permit is a rather steep $375, I don’t begrudge it as I hope that it can help provide security for the future of the mountain gorillas. The money gives the local population an incentive to preserve the gorillas and their habitat, as well as providing a 24hr armed guard. Not so long ago, poachers shot a female gorilla in the Susa group, stealing her baby – probably to order from a zoo somewhere in the world. Our rangers, Alphonse and Fidel, go through our briefing for the day’s tracking, in both French and English, as we are joined by four people from France. We have been assigned the Sabinyo Group, a family of nine individuals, and the nearest group. This morning they were observed about half an hour away, which lifts my spirits no end.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Gorillas
  • Cons:Arduous climb through thick vegetation
  • In a nutshell:The most amazing wildlife experience - ever!
  • Last visit to Virunga: Aug 2004
  • Intro Written Sep 1, 2004
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Reviews (13)

Comments (27)

  • Kristymamoo's Profile Photo
    Jul 2, 2007 at 6:48 AM

    Wow!! How amazing!! My 9 year old daughter would love this trip - something tells me it would be advisable to wait a good few years though!! Pictures are beautiful. kristy :-)

  • craic's Profile Photo
    Jun 28, 2007 at 8:17 AM

    oh what a brilliant trip! I have often wondered if you would be allowed to go if you were sick, a cold maybe.

  • Gammy1968's Profile Photo
    Feb 10, 2007 at 3:18 AM

    Hi Grete, what a wonderful travel page! I have rarely read anything more interesting and I have put a trip to the gorillas on my list of things to see during my lifetime... extraodinary experience! Claudia

  • hindu1936's Profile Photo
    Apr 4, 2006 at 2:53 AM

    hi grete, this is exactly what i was looking for. how to find the gorillas. thanks--j

  • filipdebont's Profile Photo
    Jun 25, 2005 at 10:15 AM

    Wow, wonderful pictures from the Mountain Gorillas. I hope to see them in Bwindi N.P. in Uganda.

  • Linda_T's Profile Photo
    May 16, 2005 at 11:27 PM

    I love your homepage, such interesting reading and wonderful photo's

  • luddinra's Profile Photo
    May 5, 2005 at 2:02 PM

    Wow. I can feel what you felt. Makes me want to cry.

  • VideoDave's Profile Photo
    Apr 5, 2005 at 12:27 PM

    Nothing like an eye level gorilla :-)

  • roamer61's Profile Photo
    Mar 17, 2005 at 6:48 AM

    Stunning. Truly one of the great animal adventures on the planet.

  • Waxbag's Profile Photo
    Dec 14, 2004 at 5:59 AM

    Great information, and photos. I hope to get to Rwanda next year. How did you arrange your gorilla permits?

grets

“If you keep your face to the sunshine, you cannot see the shadows”

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