When I think of Rwanda, I think of all the dozens of children who came running over to us and shouted, "Hello, hello. How are you?" They had a smile as wide as a rainbow and just wanted to see us up close and greet us. They were fascinated if we took their picture and let them see it.
And then there were the Mountain Gorillas! Wow!!! We did have to hike and climb a bit to see them with a retinue of trackers and guides, guards, and porters. But when we found them, what joy! At first we were a little nervous of being so close to these wild creatures, but we soon realized that they accepted us and forgot about us. Two of the babies started toward me for a quick inspection, but one of our guides spoke to him and discouraged him.
On our first tracking day, I had the great privilege of being with Francois, the famed tracker who worked with Dian Fossey (Gorillas in the Mist) for eighteen years. He actually talked to the gorillas constantly and was able to anticipate their behaviour. We were witness to the Silverback beating his chest twice, re-asserting his dominance to the rest of his family. I have posted videos of Francois giving us talks and instructing us about the behavior of the gorillas. Fantastic experience!!
These wonderful creatures are endangered. If you love animals and are willing to hike to see them, you should try to schedule this trip. Only eight people per day are allowed to spend an hour with them. Call me or email me for details. It is an extraodinary experience!