Many of the TechWomen mentors signed on with Terra Incognita Ecotours for a Mountain Gorilla and Golden Monkey trek after the delegation work week, staying at the Mountain Gorilla View Lodge. We eleven were the first to arrive at the lodge. Early the next morning, we were split into two groups – since only eight tourists can visit any gorilla family in Volcanoes National Park for one hour each day. Our trek group took the easier route through the bamboo forest (1-1/2 hours hiking in, 1 hour with the gorillas, 1-1/2 hours back). The other group walked for twice as long up a much steeper volcano. We all hired porters to help us up the muddy trail – and to contribute to the local economy. My porter was called Uwemama in Kinyarwanda (Clementine was her English name). I was grateful for her helping hand. Our capable trackers were Eugene and Emanuel. The Sabyinyo group of gorillas we saw were a fascinating combination of near-human intelligence and inhumanly structured quiet calm in their relationships.
The night after our trek, at the lodge we enjoyed a fascinating presentation by Dr. Jan Ramer of Gorilla Doctors about their work caring for the medical needs of the Mountain Gorillas. She said that the endangered global-population of over 800 was growing at about four percent a year, partly because of veterinary interventions in cases of poacher snares and respiratory infections brought in by tourists.
Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson