King of the Gorilla Nest

Posted 22 June, 2007 by janette in Rwanda

A 6am start on a cold and soggy morning. The drive to the entrance of Volcano National Park is like riding a bucking bronco.

We park, and tromp through fields of cabbage, “Irish potatoes”, squash, and other assorted vegetables. We pass a field of pyrethrum (a type of chrysanthemum) which will be shipped off to America to extract pyrethrin, which will then be sprayed on mosquito nets and clothing to protect the tourists that visit places like this. The fields are edged with eucalyptus trees and bamboo. Globalization has hit the farms of Rwanda.

It’s a 2 hour hike up steep, muddy slopes to see the Amohoro family of gorillas. Our guide knows exactly where the family is, because they are accompained at all times by heavily-armed trackers, who protect them from poachers. As we approach, our guide starts making a deep throated “harrump-humph-humph” sound, which is meant to imitate the gorilla’s way of saying everything’s cool.

We carefully pick our way down a very sleep slope, knowing that if we slip, we’ll roll right into the middle of the gorilla’s “nest”, which wouldn’t be welcomed by the silverback staring at us warily. This is in stark contrast to the juveniles’ way of navigating the hill – head-first somersaults!

This family isn’t very interactive with us, but they have two very playful young, who spend their time playing king of the hill and knocking each other down with their feet. A teenager charges us, and the guide makes us pick our way back up the hill very quickly. The silverback ignores us, focussing on the large amount of vegetation he needs to eat to maintain his enormous size. A mother and son chew lazily on a root, picking at each other’s fur. All is well in gorilla-land.

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1 comment to “King of the Gorilla Nest”

Phil & Suzanne, July 10th, 2007 at 9:10 pm:

  • What a fantastic trip – It’s great to see some photos and read the comments.
    Stay safe and have fun!