Trekking the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda and Uganda
Undeniably the most unique primate that survives in the forgotten forests of Africa is the Mountain Gorilla of Central Africa. In contrast to the six billion human beings living on our crowded planet, there are only some seven hundred Mountain Gorillas left on the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Seeing the mountain gorillas is an awesome experience, paralleled to nothing in Africa. Charles can organize gorilla trekking in The Impenetrable Forest of Bwindi in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda , staying at 5-Star eco-lodges situated on the most scenic land in Africa . Since low impact tourism is effective in preserving the fragile environment, few permits are available each day and booking your arrangements well in advance is highly recommended.
Trekking the mountain gorilla through the dense jungle requires patience and some stamina, often walking for hours with your guides and porters clearing your path with their machetes. Each traveler is paired with his/her personal porter, able to carry your cameras and backpacks and assist you through difficult terrain. All trekking is done at the pace of the slowest hiker and nobody is left behind. Depending on which family you visit, weather, and your hiking pace, the round-trip hike can be anywhere from one to six hours. Most are successful in finding the gorillas, but it's not guaranteed.
Finally after making your way through the bamboo and fern forests, meeting the beasts in the foliage is an inspiring moment. Quietly chewing away at their vegetarian, they seem like a marooned human family content with their guests and welcoming of our presence in their home. The tender grooming and firm disciplining of their offspring seems all too familiar as basic gorilla family dynamics mirror our own. When provoked by other gorillas, the noisy but harmless silverback grunts, screeches, and beats his chest, before slithering off with attendant females, offspring and other mature males.
Tracking the Golden Monkey: An Elusive Treasure in the Virunga Mountains
This little known monkey is one of the most endangered primates in Africa and it is now thought that the only viable population of these monkeys is in the Virunga Volcanoes. A smaller population may exist in the Nyungwe Forest in Southern Rwanda but this has yet to be verified. Two groups are being habituated for visitors in the Virungas. The Kabatwa group is found in the east of the park, on the flanks of the Sabinyo volcano and has about 40 individuals in the group. The Musongo Group lives higher up on the flanks of the Karisimbi volcano at an altitude of about 9000ft. and has about 100 individuals. Habituation has been a slow process as acceptance to humans has not been easy but was finally achieved in 2003. The monkeys now chatter and play quite happily while being observed. They spend a large proportion of their time climbing the vegetation, some 6-10 feet above ground, feeding on bamboo leaves and shoots.
The juveniles are quite small and fluffy and their infectious good humor makes them charming to watch. They live near the lower reaches of the park and it is usually only a short walk to reach them.
Seeing the Golden Monkey makes a fantastic short excursion into the misty Virunga forest and it is a great addition to the activities clients can do in the magical afro-montane forest. As with the gorillas, only one hour is allowed with the Golden Monkeys and six visitors are allowed per visit.