Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fun with gorillas in Volcanoes National Park

On Friday, October 25, we started our journey to track gorillas. I liked the description for this part of the tour:

Tracking Gorillas is very strenuous and tiresome but meeting and staying with these giant apes is worth the effort.

And worth it, it was! We had a great time spending an hour with the Umubano group of 12 gorillas. These gorillas and this area (also shared with the DRC and Uganda) was made famous by the movie, "Gorillas in the Mist," which was about Dian Fossey - an American woman who pioneered extensive research and observation of the mountain gorillas. Sadly, Dian Fossey was murdered in 1985 and the case remains unsolved.

On our way to get our gorilla briefing

Virunga mountains

Beautiful scenery

I really liked these carved gorillas

It is about an hour hike to reach the gentle giants

One more shot of locals in the field

Mt. Karisimbi

Here we go...

We passed by a lot of farms

A lot of them were growing potatoes

Fields of pyrethrum

Used as a natural pesticide

Local kids walking around

Watching us

Our guide was saying, "if the gorilla happens to touch you, don't touch them back"...OK, got it...

It wasn't too bad of a hike

Paul didn't have his hiking shoes

Bamboo trees are not natural to the environment - they were brought in for the park made
especially for the 300+ gorillas that live in the area

The gorillas get drunk from the fermented sugar inside the bamboo

We're close...Paul hears them!

Mr. Charles - the alpha male silverback

One of the four females in the group

Charles and his lady friend

He's got an itch

It was amazing being so close to them

He was just yawning but this shows how clean his mouth is

Mr. Charles can look quite scary out of context

He was eating a bamboo salad

One of the six teenage gorillas

I'm still amazed at how close we got

So pensive

Close up

Another one of the younger apes

Baby ape - one of my favorite shots

Bunyenyeri - the second silverback in the group (Mr. Charles' son) - I was a little afraid to be so close

I think he's wondering what the heck we're doing there invading his space

It was hard to get a photo of Paul with one of these beasts

The gorilla isn't looking at the camera but at least Paul is

They kept running away each time we tried to get a photo with Paul

Another shot of me and my new friends

Monkeying around

Hanging upside down

They were really cute

Look how small this one is

Gorilla tracking complete and neither of us stepped in their poop - success!

Heading to Lake Kivu for some relaxation

On the way, we saw more pyrethrum being dried to be used for pesticides

We also passed by a refugee camp - mostly for DRC citizens; the conflict in the DRC is very sad and confusing


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