Getting ready to hike the mountains in search for the African Gorilla takes some preparation. Contrary to the belief of many a mistaken traveler, flip-flops and a t-shirt are not going to work in the unpredictable climate.
Something about the word “rain” in “rain forest” and “wet” in “wet season” almost fell on deaf ears as I put the final touches on my packing before the 30-hour trip across the globe to Rwanda.
As it turned out, the high top New Balance hiking shoes I had put on that day were more than perfect for the trek.
Equally so was the Frogg Togg rain suit, which guaranteed to keep me completely dry no matter how torrential the downpour.
While I was packing, such bulk had felt slightly over-cautious and unnecessary, especially given the limited space in my suitcase and short time I would be visiting the country.
Not only was equipment important, but phsyical fitness was as well. Thankful to have spent many months prior in the gym, the steep incline was manageable. Water also a must.
As the rain began to fall with renewed energy, I was glad I had chosen to deal with the added bulk.
Returning to the mountain base our car waits for us in a small village on the edge of the park. Outside a tiny weathered blue building, several young kids see us and quickly bring out a table of tiny hand carved gorillas for sale.
They stand in the rain trying to get us to buy one of these little replicas.
I hold one of the crudely carved statues and think of my own endless quest to find a gorilla and how somehow, at least as a two-year-old, no matter how lost the gorilla may have been it managed to reappear.
So from a table of eager-eyed youth, I buy one of the little statues for my own two-year-old nephew hoping that it will generate a love similar to my own for these handsome beasts.
As long as there is love, passion, and most important, awareness, gorillas will continue to matter and, hopefully, thrive.
Pocketing my nephew’s gorilla, I think of my dad and how when one vanished he could always produce another so I pull out another five thousand francs and from the Rwandan children making our experience with the gorillas a more meaningful, one, I buy another.
For information on guides, hotels, and general information, contact Volcanoes Safaris. For information on travel to Rwanda, visit Rwanda Tourism’s official web site. Americans traveling out of the country should always first visit Travel.State.Gov for travel alerts.
For details on traveling to the Viruanga and the Sabyinyo family, visit Africa Travel Resources where you will read that “Only 56 gorilla tracking permits are issued each day, so you need to book extremely early and pay up front to secure a spot.”
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