On the Unforgettable Trail of the Mountain Gorilla
Gorillas are some of the most magnificent creatures on the planet. Its awesome power towers over many others, and its intelligence measures way above most of its kin. They roam wild and free in the lush green lands of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Congo, where they are protected. But just because they are creatures of the wild does not mean people don’t have the chance to observe them in their natural habitat.
Gorilla trekking is a once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and is definitely one of the best activities you can have during your African visit. The thrill of pushing through the thick bushes and navigating the tough terrain is sweetly rewarded by the amazing sight of gorilla families going about their business. You can see mothers taking care of their young, and the males vigilantly watching out for any danger. And it’s no long-distance observation either — you get to come up close and personal with these mountain dwellers.
Over the hills and far away
Gorilla trekking tours can span the wide expanses of mountain forest where the gorillas reside. You start off with a group of guides who know every inch of the surrounding jungle. In Rwanda alone, that’s around 46 square miles of the Volcanoes National Park, which encompasses six volcanoes. While on the trail, you can see beautiful views in all directions and even get to encounter other forms of rare African wildlife. In Uganda, there’s the Bwindi National Park, where gorilla tracking could span anywhere from 2 days to a week! And in the Congo, you can see the lowland gorillas in the Kahuzi Biega National Park. These locations provide the perfect getaway, where you can reconnect with the raw throb of Nature. And if a week isn’t enough to destress and find yourself, there are trekking tours that can last up to 24 days, and can span other aspects of African wildlife.
But while you’re far away from the comforts of modern civilization, you don’t have to worry about the dangers of the green unknown. Gorilla trekking tours are conducted mostly in air conditioned 4WD vehicles. All meals and other accommodations are taken care of, and all that’s left for you to do is to marvel at the dramatic backdrop for one of the most poignant experiences in your life.
What to expect
But you’re probably wondering why you would want to sit for days searching for mountain gorillas. Simply put, there isn’t any way to prepare for the experience of meeting these creatures in person. You would get lost in their human-like movements and manners, as you watch the little ones playing around while their guardians stare in surrender. Unlike other wild creatures that flee in the face of humans, the females of a gorilla clan will greet you with welcoming gestures, even as the silverback stands guard to make sure you don’t do anything rash.
It’s a life-changing experience, especially when you understand that what you are looking at are the remnants of the few hundred remaining gorillas in Africa. These are some of the rarest species in the world. For generations, their numbers had been thinned by rampant hunting and poaching, and by diseases and man’s conflicts. It’s no wonder that one would have to trek for days in order to just get a glimpse of them!
Gorilla trekking is an activity that you can sign up for all year long. Deep in the rainforests of Africa, these giants will be ready to welcome those who take time to search for them. And don’t expect any touristy atmosphere here — access to the gorilla’s grounds are severely limited, and fewer than a hundred people are being allowed to embark on gorilla trekking tours at once.
Not your typical vacation
These tours are some of the most popular adventures in Africa, for a simple reason — it’s not your average vacation. You don’t go on tourist-beaten paths where African wildlife is lined up on either side of your vehicle, with the occasional thrill of a tiger jumping onto the roof. Instead, you join a raw search for magnificent creatures whose numbers are dwindling, living deep within untamed terrain. You are taken out of your spheres of comfort and thrust within their domain, and poignantly reminded that they are not some wild beasts that pose a threat to civilizations. Instead, they care, play, laugh, and form peaceful communities much like humans do.
Frankly, it is something you will keep coming back for again and again. The emotions that your gorilla trekking adventure elicits, set against the unforgettable beauty of the protected landscape, will stay with you for the rest of your life.