Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda
As previously mentioned I got a gorilla-trekking permit the 6th of June. When I first decided to go to Rwanda, I didn’t really plan to see the gorillas (too expensive was my conclusion, yes – 500USD). Therefore I didn’t really bother prearrange a permit, and since I had read on the internet that you had to secure your permit months before I believed it wasn’t possible anyway. But on Zanzibar I met a girl that told me there were plenty of free spots when she booked a couple of weeks ago, so I started giving it some thoughts after all.
When I arrived Kigali, I soon found out that there were many free spots. And I needed to think, should I do this or not? I had already reached 0kr on my bank account, so it would hurt. In the end I decided to do it, I persuaded myself that this is a once in a lifetime experience. Either the gorillas will get extinct or the price will just rise more (anyway, it’s years before I’ll be back in Rwanda, so now or never). I also come up with the brilliant idea that the Vertshuset Tips of 2010 should go to funding the permit. So each time you are giving waiter Karl some extra tips it will go into funding his gorilla-trekking - one NOK after another.
And then on the 6th of June I started the trekking. Not too hard, and not too far away, maybe two hours of walking (I was prepared for 5-ish). I was also amazed to learn that we were supposed to trek a gorilla family that lived closed to the Karisoke Research Center, in the very same slopes Dian Fosey did her research some decades earlier. (I had just finished my “gorillas in the mist” book, so my gorilla endorphins were sky-rocketing)
And the encounter with the Isabukuru-family was magic:
I think we were really lucky to find the gorillas in an open area, and without rain, also the fact that we saw most of the members, the juveniles, the silverback and the females from a close distance of about 5 meters. It was just amazing to be standing there and observe these humanlike animals in their natural behavior, and they didn’t seem to bother us either, since they just kept on doing whatever they did before we arrived. It almost felt like a zoo, but it wasn’t.
When we went down from the mountain again, just outside the park boundaries I saw something strange on the next hill – more gorillas? But this is open land, close to human population. Actually it really was another gorilla family, the Bwenge family. We couldn’t go close, but in a way we got two gorilla families for the price of one, and since I was the one that spotted them I felt sooo cool.
So was it worth it? Well, yes and no… Just the 45minutes with the gorillas wasn’t really worth 500USD for a poor backpacker as I am. But if I keep thinking about it as I did in Nyungwe - my money goes into the conservation of this National Park and its wildlife and also that it contributes to the economy of this poor country then it’s another business.