East Africa Bush Tails

News on the Sabyinyo Gorilla Family

Probably one of the shortest treks to the Gorillas that I have ever done. Quite fortunate though as the rain started falling around 3am that morning. To avoid the rain, we were all huddled together under the roof of the meeting point at the park office, receiving our briefing from the guides who would be conducting the Gorilla treks that morning. With a warm cup of coffee in hand, we listened very intently to all that the guides had to say. It’s so easy to spot the first time trekkers, with expressions of overwhelming excitement and a hint of anxiety.

Finally, the guides instructed the 8 of us to move to our vehicles and off we went. A twenty minute drive brought us to the starting point for our trek. Everyone was assigned a porter, given a walking stick and off we went. Not long into our trek, the first of several “how far still to the gorillas?”, a question the guides hear all too often. Six hours was the reply from the guide which brought dead silence to the group.

Ten minutes later we were at the park boundary where the guide gave us another quick talk on walking etiquette inside the National Park. The trackers radioed down, informing the guides that they have found the gorillas and that we should come up. Everyone, less talkative now was trying to control their breathing in preparation for the six hour trek to the Gorillas.

Only twenty minutes later, we came across the trackers, much to the relief of many of the folks in our group. We took out our cameras and not too far from us, we could see and hear a rustle in the bamboo. We followed the guides into the bamboo forest. First off all, we came across Shirimpumu, a very boisterous Blackback, soon to turn Silverback and shortly after that we had both the old man, Guhonda and his second-in-charge Silverback, Gihishamwotsi make their way down a trail through the bamboo. Gihishamwotsi is showing off, with constant playful defensive postures.

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Guhonda, not taking much notice of his antics continued down to where he settled for a nice bamboo breakfast. Above us, some of the youngsters were swinging between the bamboo clumps using vines hanging down from the bamboo canopy. With very little light for photography, most of the hour was spent just observing these incredible animals playing out their daily routine just meters in front of us. Still, even after so many treks, this is still an emotion that I can not put into words that would justify what is felt when with the Gorillas.
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Privileged am I….

Photo and Text 
– by: Nelis Wolmarans 
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge Manager
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