Rwanda: Gorilla Trek 2

I had bought 2 Gorilla Trekking Permit for this trip.  Since permits don't guarantee gorilla sighting and are often sold out months in advance, the second permit served more as an insurance policy….in case I don't see the gorillas on my first trek.  After going through the gorilla trekking process, I now know that NOT seeing gorillas on a trek is pretty much impossible!  

After a successful trek and the most amazing gorillas encounter, I thought about selling my 2nd permit to someone else.  For one, the permit was $500!  But also because I can't imagine topping the most amazing experience that I just had!  After much internal debate, I decided to keep my permit and go on another trek.  After all, I was already there. Plus, even if I trekked to see the same gorilla group, the interactions and behaviors of the gorillas would be totally different on the second day. 

Today, I was assigned to the Sabyinyo Group. Apparently the Sabyinyo Group is the group that most VIP visitors (like the Clintons) are taken to see. Sabyinyo means "old man's teeth". This group consists of 12 gorillas.  There are actually 2 silverbacks in this group!  Guhonda, the dominant silverback is 43 years old and weighs 226kg (quite literally the 500 pound gorilla!).  Guhonda, whose name means "beating the chest", is the largest silverback in the world! 

The weather was not our friend today.  It was misty from the start.

  Different point of entry into the National Park today.

Different point of entry into the National Park today.

The terrain was also much different from the day before.  Walking through a field of Stinging Nettle (plant with stinging hair) was not fun.  While my hands were protected by my thick garden gloves, my legs weren't as lucky. The tiny thorns of the stinging nettle pierced right through my hiking pants. 

Gorilla sighting!! The second time around was just as exciting as the first!

 Guhonda, the 500 pound gorilla seemed more like a gentle giant to me. 

OK, maybe not so much there….

Time to eat!  Male gorillas eat 30 kg of plants everyday! 

Love the little hands and toes of this baby gorilla! 

Because we were in a more open area today, it was easier see to all the activities around us. I was like a kid in a candy store, bouncing around trying to take it all in!  This being my second trek, I made a conscious effort to put down the camera and just observe and enjoy the encounter.   

Big Ben is actually only 7 years old.  Some kind of bacteria infection caused it to go bald!  Poor Ben….

An hour went by so fast!  It was hard to say to goodbye to these almost humanlike creatures. 

Even though the rain didn't start coming down hard until we were done with the gorilla, it was still a muddy mess. 

Apparently the town floods every time it rains!