On Wednesday, we were taken by van from Kigali to the Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge in Northwest Rwanda, just outside the Volcanoes National Park.
Here are two shots of our arrival at the Lodge:
After independence, the small African nation of Rwanda leaped to fame as the Land of “Gorillas in the Mist”, adopted home of Dian Fossey and the most important refuge for the rare mountain gorilla.
Tonight we had instructions about proper behavior around the gorillas, and we’ll leave for our gorilla trek early in the morning. The mountain Gorillas live in and near the Volcanos National Park which is roughly where I’ve drawn the red oval. It also extends into Uganda and theCongo, but were were only in Rwanda.
I admit, it was a difficult hike, but it was SO worth it. Our group was split up so that only 4 tourists accompanied each guide and guard. We were assigned porters to carry our backpacks (GREAT IDEA!) And in some cases porters had to machete a path through the jungle and they often helped pull us out of the mud. I could not have made it without the porters. And, of course, this sometimes steeps hike was at about 8,600 feet!
The gorilla family we got so see was pretty large – probably 22 animals. It was the “heat” of the day so it was basically naptime for the family. Here are some of the members we got to see up close and personal:
Even though they were napping, the gorillas were curious about us. Many foraged for food, the youngsters played just like young humans, and the Silverback was mostly aloof. When our time was up with the gorillas, the porters had to hack a new path through the jungle because we kept running into napping gorillas!
By the way, the guide and other personnel were not concerned about us wearing our masks while hiking, which was a good thing for breathing at altitude and exercising so strenuously. However, when we got close to the gorillas, they were very serious about everyone masking up to protect these rare animals.
Once we got back to our lodge, some of us had planned to go to the village to shop in the afternoon, but it was pretty late in the afternoon, and we were all pooped! We were called down to the main building for a special surprise at 5:30.
Jay and I started down the stairs, but it started to rain, so we went back to grab an umbrella. (We said our thanks that it hadn’t rained during the gorilla trek!) When we got to the designated meeting place we saw a group of local young musicians and dancers running through the down pour. This was their first paid gig since Covid, and it had to pour on them. They were real troupers though and danced and sang their hearts out – in the rain! Check out the smiles:
These amazing people were all from the local village, and they were proud to show us many of their traditional dances. What a treat!
The next day begins our journey from Rwanda to Tanzania. Give me a few days to catch up.