It was on a Saturday afternoon when we assembled at the offices of Rwanda Development Board for a briefing before we headed to Musanze District for a marvellous adventure.
We were set to go see mountain gorillas. As someone who loves travelling, this was more of a lifetime trip and it was thrilling. Liveliness was in our buses with a mixture of jokes, chats and of course trying to get to know each other.
I knew that my weekend was going to be spent well.
Upon arrival in Musanze, we were welcomed and accommodated until the next morning when we set off on our journey to explore.
There was that enthusiasm that wakes you up early in the morning, imagining how you are going to climb that thick forest to see these remarkable creatures and all the while glancing at the outstanding mountains wrapped with thick clouds at the peaks.
We woke up at 4 am and started our journey to the National Volcanoes Park.
This was a dream come true because it’s not every day that anyone can afford to see these gorillas.
We went to Kinigi office for instructions and an introduction to our tour guides. They fed us with the background history of numerous gorilla families and after we were dispersed into small groups of eight as we were delegated to separate sites.
I was among the team that visited Igisha family consisting of 34 family members.
Surprisingly, these animals have no borders, you can predict to find them in the North, then locate them in the South. We drove for two hours up to the starting point “Kamuhekunzuzi Trekking Trail” at Nyabihu District-Western Province.
The slope of Kalisimbi was our main focus for it is where we could track them from. Meanwhile, our tour guides kept reminding us of the gorilla trekking rules and regulations.
“Gorillas are huge in size especially silverbacks and black backs, they are generally calm and peaceful except when they are troubled,” they narrated.
“They can also stand straight, throw things, climb bushes and make aggressive charges such as pounding their big chests while barking out powerful hoots or releasing troublesome howls.”
“Submit, be humble, don’t imitate them and don’t come close,” we were warned.
“Don’t run, stand still and don’t stare at them for long, it can be provocative,” the guides instructed.
It took us about thirty minutes to reach the gorillas’ region and boom, the gorillas were in front of us. At first, it was a bit scary because they are giant animals but they were comfortable enjoying our presence.
We were told that their nourishment is made of bamboo trees, they also eat more than 200 types of herbs. We had around one hour of fun as we took photos.
Later on, we were on our way back and it took us about 40 minutes to reach the ending point “Umugano Trail”.
It definitely was a one-of-a-kind type of adventure. There is a zeal that rises after seeing Gorilla face to face and this will stay with me for a long time. And I must say I was satisfied, a lot of expectations were fulfilled, my questions were answered, and I achieved the greatest goal.
Like the English saying “worth every penny” (Akezakarigura in Kinyarwanda), which means that something splendid is worth no matter what. I think a visit to Rwanda’s mountain gorillas is priceless.
Gorillas are more than endangered species, they are intersected in East Africa regions of Rwanda, Uganda, and DRC. Beyond the conservation to improve their safety and wellbeing, they bring in revenue that contributes to the improvement of livelihood in communities around the park.
What I witnessed is that these animals are unmatched, their magnificence is indescribable. These living things deserve to be preserved at all costs.
I have in the past had a chance to visit numerous tourist destinations of Rwanda such as the Canopy walk in Nyungwe Forest National Park, Bisoke Volcano, a few museums; Campaign Against Genocide Museum, King’s Palace Museum and Ethnographic Museum to relax, examine and discover.
But this one particular voyage was exceptional, this is why urging anyone to go and see, and come and tell is not a bad idea at all.
It is high time that we continue exploring Rwanda’s wonderful tourist attractions instead of always allowing foreigners to tell our stories.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE ALSO HERE: https://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/my-first-time-trekking-mountain-gorillas