Dear Readers: I shall now try to give you a few details about my travels with daughter, Kate, and brother, Don.
The trip to see the gorillas was the first thing on our list. These are the heirs of the gorillas with whom Dian Fossey did her research back in the 1970s. In fact, some of those very gorillas are still alive now. They are very carefully cared for in the Verunga volcanoes. Early in the morning of any gorilla treks guides go up to locate the eight families that people can see. Then as small groups begin to ascend the mountains toward the gorilla families, led by a couple more guides and several porters, they all keep in radio communication with one another. Then if the gorillas move around, the guides can keep the group of trekkers on target. Only about 60 people can go on the treks each day. The government sells permits so they can keep track of how many people are going on any given day. It costs $750.00 USD for one permit. Mine was slightly less since I have a work visa. We "found" our family about 1&1/2 hours after starting out. Here are several photos. This is called the "Lucky" family. It was formed by one big "silverback" male when he became disgruntled at being the third male in the pecking order of another family. He found several females willing to follow him and now there is a family of about 17, with several babies, two of whom are twins. Twins are quite rare among gorillas.
We weren't supposed to get any closer than about 5 feet to the gorillas. Unfortunately, the gorillas don't know how to measure distances! One baby was quite interested in Kate and began to approach her. The guide made Kate move back. They only let you stay to watch the family for one hour and that time flew by. Then we had to make our way back down the mountain. The babies (one, two, and three years old) never walked anywhere. They did somersaults till they got where they wanted to be. One baby practiced beating on his chest like a big boy! I do not have a photo of that. During our hour, the big Daddy decided to take a nap. When he naps, everyone naps! So there wasn't a lot of activity for part of our hour. On our way to the gorillas our guide, Kiranga, took us through the mountains where we saw a huge tea plantation. We have learned to tell tea by its color--lighter green than most of the vegetation. The tea completely filled a long valley--it looked like it might never stop! Really beautiful.