After a year of waiting my mother received 3 permits to visit the gorillas of Volcanoes National Park. Eight permits are alloted per group of gorillas per day. The group we saw, called the ‘Sabyinyo’ group, has two adult males, three grown females, two juveniles, and two of the cutest infant gorillas I have ever seen. Also the only infant gorillas I have ever seen, but we can ignore that for now. The trek to the forest was not more than an hour with an additional two-ish hours of machete assisted bush whacking before we reached the edge of a very steep cliff. This particular group typically eats on the top ridge of a crater in the morning and goes deeper in to the crater to nest in the afternoon. When we reached the edge of the cliff the guides told us that the gorillas had already started to go down in to the crater and in order to see them we would have to follow their trails until we caught up. A few people, intimidated by the 75-ish degree rock face stayed at the top of the cliff and waited for us to return. Five of us followed the guides down to the gorillas nest, and it was well worth it.
The first gorilla we saw was the oldest silver back who watched us while eating his lunch from about 20 meters away. Soon to follow was an adult female in a tree; with one hand from an unfortunate poaching incident. After about half an hour of watching and moving deeper in to the crater, and watching, and sliding down mud and vines, we saw the infants. The two smallest gorillas of the group who are classified as infants are both what I would call ‘clumsy toddler’ stage, if there is such a stage in gorilla development. They were play fighting on top a large pile branches and vines. When one would reach the top the other would attempt to knock him over which inevitably resulted in both gorillas losing balance and tumbling to the ground as one screeching ball of black fluff. It is easy for me to see how Dian Fossey would be willing to live with these beautiful primates, I could have watched them for hours.
The picture above it of the smallest ‘infant’ I will be sure to post more pictures to facebook as soon as I have access to internet of a decent speed.