Around 09:10am and at 8240ft above sea level we started our ascent to the 38 strong Susa family. The trek to this family is considered to be the hardest and longest of all the families viewed by tourists. Two sets of twins, many small babies and juveniles, 9 adult females and 3 Silverbacks makes this a very sort after family. One hour and twenty minutes later after a 1200ft steep ascent, we reached the park boundary. After a short briefing from our guide, Vincent, we entered the park in search of this amazing family. At around 10000ft we came across the armed trekkers who spend all daylight hours guarding this family.
Everyone checked their cameras and had a quick snack and a sip of water before we made the final few 100ft to the Gorillas. What a sight!!! Babies everywhere, with moms and Silverbacks keeping a close eye on the little ones as they, very much like human babies, have the ability to find trouble and risk injury in the safest places. They were hanging of thin vines, performing acrobatic maneuvers on the smallest branches and overlooking a steep drop into the ravine below. Every mother’s worst nightmare!!! The youngest of the two sets of twins, were staying close to their mother’s side and looking very healthy. I was very privileged to photograph the 2 week old newcomer when it climbed over it’s mother’s back to get a better look at it’s human spectators. From our right came one of the smaller babies standing upright on it’s mom’s back, as she moved through the undergrowth. A real little showman! This little guy had us all in hysterics.
Some of the Silverbacks showed scares from a recent altercation with the Pablo Family. The Pablo family is the biggest family in the Volcanoes NP and probably in the whole of the Virungas. There are 48 members in this family and is one of the 9 research families found here in Rwanda.
As every other time, the voice from the head guide announces “5 minutes left, please take your last photos”. Hate hearing that but fully understand the importance of not overstaying our time with the Gorillas. We started our descent back to the vehicles. On arrival, each trekker was presented with a certificate with their name and the name of the Gorilla family visited!
A perfect morning spent up in the Volcanoes NP amongst these magnificent creatures! I do remember thinking when sitting amongst the Gorillas, that life just does not get any better than this!!!
– by: Nelis Wolmarans