Rwanda Gorilla Trek

Rwanda is home to one of the largest populations of mountain gorillas in the world. It is an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience that requires a permit, which are limited and are expensive. The gorilla trekking experience can be challenging as it involves hiking through rough terrain but it is an unforgettable and unique experience.

I arrived at the headquarters of Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park in the early morning, where all gorilla treks begin. The weather was overcast with a chill in the air and the sun was just peeking over the mountain tops. The park service greeted us with hot coffee and traditional drumming, and as we waited for our trek assignments, we were entertained by cultural dancers.

Guides negotiated with various gorilla groups to determine which one we would trek with. As we waited anxiously, the golden monkey treks were assigned first. Eventually, we were assigned a gorilla group and met our guide near a sign with the group's family name.

Our guide drove us to the starting point of the trek, where we could hire a porter to carry our bags. Park rangers had already entered the park to locate the gorilla family. The trek began by walking through farmlands, and as we passed through a stone wall, we entered the dense jungle. For the first couple of hours, we followed trails, but then ventured off-trail to find the gorilla family. Park rangers cleared the way through the thick jungle with machetes and vines sometimes snagged our feet. The porters assisted us through the jungle, pointing out stinging nettles.

As we approached the location of the gorillas, I was filled with awe at the sight of these majestic animals. Their intelligence and gentle nature evoked feelings of empathy and respect in me. We were instructed to keep our distance and spend only an hour with them in order to minimize the impact on the gorillas. Despite this, several gorillas, including a baby, came close enough for to touch, of course that is not allowed.

One hour goes quickly, make sure you take time away from taking pictures to enjoy the experience.