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When visiting Rwanda you would be crazy not to take time to visit the gorillas.  The day starts early, with a hot drink in the descending mist from the heavy mountains. Guides, most of which are reformed poachers, sort you into groups of about 8-10 people and assign you to a gorilla family.

We set off with an estimated walking time of 1 and a half hours – by our calculations we’d arrive just in time for their hour morning break to see them playing and eating.  The walk was challenging at times but the anticipation and adrenaline keeps you going.  Sadly, one member of our group became unwell on the ascent so we were a little delayed in reaching the mountain gorillas, but before we knew it, three hours had passed and we were there.  We were told to keep quiet and leave our bags with the guides – taking just our cameras and excitement with us for the final 5 minute walk to the gorillas.

I remember smelling them before we saw them – an undeniable heavy aroma of sweaty gorilla!   With the tracker by my side mimicking their grunts, I saw this huge beast emerging from the undergrowth. Due to the delay in our walk, we reached the family after their morning rest, and they were on the move – an experience, I feel, was far more exhilarating than watching them eat and sleep!

My initial fear was swallowed by my astonishment at how gentle these giants are when they are disturbed by ten humans with cameras bursting in their homes.  Once you have won their trust, you become irrelevant and they can walk straight up to you – the look of bemused curiosity on their faces is a recognition you get that you don’t get with any other animal.  We saw the huge silver-backs chest beating, a female barged us out of the way and baby gorillas stared at us with interest and amazement.  I was blown away by how human-like they were; showing off, burping (!) and play fighting like children.

We spent an hour with these beautiful creatures before making our way back to the lodge. That night we shared stories as we ate a family-style dinner, all still so captivated by what we had experienced.  There are no words which can give this experience any justice – it really is an adventure that only you can discover for yourself.