We are all excited this morning and not sure what to expect as we head to the park for our first day of gorilla trekking! We arrive at Kinigi Headquarters where we are entertained with more native dancing. Here we wait while Isaac finds two more people for our group as we go out in groups of 8; Ron and Leslie from New Zealand join us. He also has to negotiate what trek we will do. We have requested a medium ability (not the shortest, nor the 4 hour trek each way).
Our guides are Patrick and Gerome, both have been guides for 3 years and some months. They gave us a briefing on the gorillas. They were discovered in 1902. Tourist trekking started in 1975. There are 18 families, 10 are visited by tourists and 8 are for research.
We will be visiting the Ugenda Family. This was once a large group that divided. The leader of the original family remains with this group. There are two Silver Backs in this family. Ugenda is the leader, Wadgni is the number two silver back. Gorillas are considered infants until age 3 1/2; 3 1/2 to 6 years considered juveniles. The males become Black Backs when they are age 8. At age 12 they are mature and can breed.
There are two infants in our group, ages 7 months and 9 months.
We head off on our trek, mostly through the farmers' fields and up towards the park entrance. The park is walled off from the farmers' land. This stone wall is meant to keep the buffalo and elephants in the park. Patrick told us the gorillas were waiting for us at the entrance, we will not need to walk far in the park. We left our bags, walking sticks and water (except for Peter who snuck some water in) with the porters8" we hired to carry our packs and help us with our climb. We climbed the ladder over the wall and the tracker is there. We are told to wait the gorillas are coming.
To our amazement two females come out. Words cannot described the time we spent and what we watched. You are suppose to stay back 7 meters, we were always much closer. The biggest excitement was after Patrick told us to move off the path as the silver back would be using it to come passed. Oh my, he comes running staring at us and as we crouch down he is just inches away! Patrick said it is the first time he has experienced this. We are suppose to spend one hour with the gorillas, but we have spent much more time. We leave the park and gather or things and head back down.
Patrick informed us we were the second group to return.
Isaac has to drive us back over the African massage road. The rocky road that sends us bouncing all over the inside. Know this I need to find a bush bathroom. How fortunate there is a port-a-John. It is very clean but it is a squat-a-pot!
On return we remove our dirty shoes that will be returned to us clean. We have lunch and discuss how is tomorrow's trek going to top this and we hope it isn't more difficult!
I am so glad I have been running. We trekked from an altitude of 2500 meters up to 2800 meters. I didn't need to ask for a rest, but when we rested, I was able to recover my breath quickly!