Gorilla News from Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge
Trekking Amahoro Family about a week ago found them in a mini crater, on the north western slope of Bisoke Volcano. As the night before was cold and rainy, we found majority of the family still tucked in their nests. Shortly thereafter they started moving around foraging. The one and a half month old baby, clinging onto mom’s back found us very intriguing, not taking it’s eyes off us for even one second
We started following the family as they moved further and further from where they nest the night before. First up a steep slope and then into a very thick bamboo forest. Not long before we found ourselves surrounded by gorillas, coming from all directions, brushing past us as they seek out the fresh bamboo shoots. Undeterred by our presence, they would on occasions brush right up against the guests on the narrow trails made by buffalo that also frequent this part of the forest. On one such an occasion the female carrying the youngest infant on her back brushed past me with the little one’s head turned to the side starring at me. Even at this young age they are very inquisitive and as they pass me, the youngster reached out with it’s left arm and brushed his finger tips against my legs and then gently pulled his arm back in grabbing onto his mother’s fur while still looking me in the eyes. Another very special moment that I will carry with me for a very very long time to come.
My 3rd visit to Sabyinyo Family also came with it’s own excitement. After trekking for about 45 minutes we came upon the trekkers from DFGFI (Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International). This is always an exciting event as you know from there the Gorillas are no more than 2 or 3 minutes away. Then, from a small ledge above us, appears Guhonda, the oldest and largest of the Silverbacks in Volcanos National Park and also the dominant Silverback of Sabyinyo Family. His grand entrance was followed by a number of OMG’s and OOOH’s and AAAH’s. What a fine specimen he is! One of our recent clients, Frederick Gannett sparked the interest of a very big and boisterous Blackback who initially sat quite a ways off observing us. He then got up and slowly made his way across and started shadowing Fred’s every move, planting himself no more than arms length from Fred at all times. Not sure what sparked the interest ( might be the grey beard Fred), but I am sure this too is a memory Fred will carry with him for quite some time to come.
Prior to that, our Guide, the famous Francois had a stand-off with this particular Blackback. My initial thought was, ouch, this was going to hurt and I am talking from experience. After a few vocal exchanges between Francois and the Blackback they reached an understanding and parted. With 31 years of experience with the Mountain Gorillas and 5 years of that working under Dian Fossey herself, I now see the bond Francois has developed with these magnificent creatures. To Francois, this is more than a monthly salary, this is a passion. Your Blackbacks often cause excitement on the treks as they have now reached an age where they feel the need to prove their strength and more so their standing within the family.
To anyone who has ever thought about Mountain Gorilla trekking or who is looking for an incredible, life changing experience, I urge you, stop thinking about it and get here as this is still the ULTIMATE WILDLIFE SAFARI! – Nelis Wolmarans, Manager Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge