I’ve been on lots of migration safaris in Africa, but a Gorilla Trek is a completely different experience! In Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, they take you on this trip and guide you through the wilderness to see the gorillas. When they assign your permits, they’ll ask you if you want a short hike or long hike. The longer the hike, you get to see gorillas that are farther into the park. But even on the short hikes, it could take you 3-4 hours before you see a gorilla. You just never know. Or it might happen quick!

We started hiking at the perimeter of the park. They told us that there’s usually about 12 groups of gorillas in the area. Our guides were chopping down bamboo forest, clearing the way for us right as we were walking through! One of the officials is armed, to make sure and keep you safe. There are trackers out in the park that are always there, and they radio the park officials that are near you to let you know if you’re near a group of gorillas.

When I was there, there was a moment when they radioed in and told us we were near a group. They decided to just pause to wait and see if we would watch them. The forest was so dense there, and all of a sudden, I noticed one behind the foliage only about 5-10 feet away! It’s just so interesting to see their hands or eyes, they were very human-like. We noticed others around, they were grooming, and eating, and interacting with each other. There was an infant there that was playing, throwing dirt at his brother like a typical family. I felt lucky to have such up and close viewing – but I know it isn’t for everyone.