Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gorilla Trekking Experience

Hello everyone,
Professor Bradley gave me the opportunity to share an amazing experience I had with you through the blog. Last spring break, I traveled to Rwanda with a group of Yalies through Reach Out. One of the most amazing experiences I was fortunate enough to have there was going gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park on the very northern border of Rwanda.
Already by 6:30am, we were on our way to the national park. Before beginning the trek, we were briefed by our experienced guides about the silverback gorillas and how to behave around them. Then we began our climb up the mountain. The terrain was very muddy, slippery and filled with obstacles. The guide had to use his machete to carve a path for us up the mountain.

Trackers are in charge of locating the gorilla families in advance and therefore our guide knew exactly where to lead us. After about an hour of hiking, we had arrived. I turned my head and suddenly there it was; the first huge gorilla just eating and looking at us.

We could not believe that we were standing within 8 feet of these wild animals. The family that my group visited consisted of 8 gorillas with 2 babies. Every family is lead by one head male whose size is simply unbelievable. The 250 kg of pure muscle were awe-inspiring and also slightly intimidating, especially when the gorilla was walking straight towards us. The guides knew exactly how to behave and were even able to communicate with the gorillas by imitating their sounds of aggression and peace.

The babies were a special treat! Ranging from 1-3 years old, the young gorillas were behaving just like human siblings. They fought, played, climbed, fell, and teased their elders. The hour we got to spent with this gorilla family was truly an unforgettable experience for all of us.

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