Visiting the handful of mountain gorillas left in the world can be an amazing adventure! Watch this video and see a bit about my own incredible adventure there, where I personally had an encounter with a rare Silver Back gorilla!
I couldn’t get any footage of my experience with the Silver back, unfortunately. Right from the start, your guides will tell you something of the habits of the mountain gorillas and explain that it’s important to listen to them if a problem arises. I was filming baby twin gorillas, when all of a sudden the guide yelled,
“Quick quick! Big boss coming – Run!”
I quickly got up from my crouched position and dashed away, but all I could do was push myself flat against a tree behind me and balance on the soggy brush underneath.
All of a sudden, thwack! I was hit on my thigh by the Silver Back, and I went flying head first into the brush! I waited for what seemed like forever, not knowing if the danger had passed or if I was soon to be an ex travel journalist! I formed the words “help me” and whispered it to the wind. Before long, the guides came towards me, lifted me up, and showed me that Big Boss had carried on his way along the path.
According to a primatologist I interviewed, very few people have ever had physical contact with a mountain gorilla, so I do consider myself fortunate for the experience. Also, it’s impossible to know why this happened – it could be that I was the only female and he was staking a claim, or it could have been that, as the “big boss,” he commanded the trails and pushed away anything in his path.
A wonderful place to discover these gorillas is in Volcanoes National Park in the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda. There, you can go with very experienced and knowledgeable guides and rangers that will bring you the best experience, while simultaneously respecting and protecting the gorillas and their habitat. It’s a LONG and sometimes difficult trek, so be sure to be prepared for the elements! I guarantee that your personal experience with these gentle animals will make it all worthwhile.
The fee to enter has gone up and is pricey at $1500.00 US per person. My thinking is that the cost was raised to ensure that the gorillas are not inundated with too many tourists. These animals are strong, fierce and funny, and I hope I one day get another chance to play with them in the mountains of Rwanda.