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Imelda’s African Adventure - Rwanda & Kenya July 20th 2006 to July 30th 2006

Imelda’s African Adventure - Rwanda & Kenya July 20th 2006 to July 30th 2006

Aug 15th, 2006, 04:14 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 705
Wayne, that is good advice. We have a free day in between treks (or perhaps afterward), when we supposedly will have the opportunity to hike to her grave and the remains of the original research facility she used. So I suspect we will try to do that.
Chris_GA_Atl is offline  
Aug 15th, 2006, 05:24 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Imelda, this is an excellent report. I feel like I'm right there trekking with you.

More, more, more!
Leely is offline  
Aug 15th, 2006, 08:42 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 174

I have butterflies reading your travel log. I feel like I am there with you. I have arranged the Rwanda portion of my trip through Volcanoes Safari and they did initially put me in Virunga. After reading on the board that it was an hour from the park entrance, I asked them to move me to Gorilla’s Nest and they did with no problem. I also wanted to do Dian Fossey’s grave and research center, but I don’t think I will have enough time. Guess I will just have to plan another trip. Only 183 more days…Yahoo! Imelda, I can’t wait until your next installment.

matnikstym, you make me laugh! I think I will leave off the Burundi stop on my trip .

MonicaH is offline  
Aug 15th, 2006, 11:18 PM
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Imelda, you are the QUEEN of the cliffhanger! Keep it coming!
matnikstym is offline  
Aug 16th, 2006, 02:25 AM
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Oh how magical... I'd love to go and see the gorillas but I'm not sure, with my arthritic hips and fitness levels whether I'd manage to reach even the nearest group! I can't wait to read the next chapter!
Kavey is offline  
Aug 16th, 2006, 10:06 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 247
Imelda, this is great! I just got back from Rwanda and Kenya last night...will post a trip report soon...after I get over the stress of our return journey (Heathrow was NOT fun).

Lucia78 is offline  
Aug 16th, 2006, 01:39 PM
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Hi Guys,
I was hoping to get the next installment up this evening but I'm afraid my sister and kids have been very inconsiderate and have come to visit so I'm not going to get it done this evening. I will do my best to get some more up tomorrow but I can't promise as sis & kids are here until Sunday and I have to spend some time with them (don't want to be a bad Auntie!). Sorry to leave ye 'hanging on'.

The trek was everything I could ever have wished for or anticipated plus much much more!

Patty - The Amahoros were the cherry on the cake (even if the cake was a little stale to start with!)

Chris - Sorry, yes, I found a picture of Francois on the net and he wasn't our trekker.
What a fantastic itinerary you have! You are sure to have an AWESOME time. If you can get to the Susa group I'm sure it will be well worth it. Personally, I would have DIED on a hike that long

Leely - Glad you're enjoying reading.

Monica - Those 182 days will absolutely fly by - you have the trip of a lifetime waiting for you!!!!!

Denis - Sorry to prolong the 'hanging'! I had to stop somewhere and there seemed as good as any

Kavey - Two words - DO IT. I too was worried that I wouldn't be able to do the trek as I am VERY unfit but I promise, they only go as fast as the slowest person and EVERYONE is glad to take it easy. OUr guide told us that it would normally take only 45 minutes but we took almost 90 minutes total to get there as the Mom was finding it difficult But I swear no-one (except for one ignorant person whom no-one took any notice of anyways) was sorry the pace was slow. If it is something you would like to do then I say go for it! It's an amazing experience.

Lucia - Welcome back!!! I see you have started your trip report ALREADY(!!). I haven't had a chance to read it yet but I hope to get to it very soon.

OnlyMeOirish is offline  
Aug 17th, 2006, 02:52 PM
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Just a little snippet this evening to keep things going. I probably won't get to post more until after the weekend - sorry to drag things out!

Francois and the guards ushered us to one end and we immediately got set with the camera gear. What a sight! My first impressions were, Wow, they’re so small! I had had visions of these great big fearsome looking apes but they weren’t at all like that. I definitely imagined the adults to be twice the size they actually are. Don’t get me wrong, the Silverback and second in command (when he eventually came to join the group) are large, just not as big as I had expected.
As I said, most of the group were there, with the juveniles doing acrobatics on the tree stumps while they ate and after a few minutes the Mum with the 4-week-old baby showed up. She went to the end furthest from us and kept her baby more or less covered. I did manage to snatch a few pictures of the back of his head though J. Then the ‘second in command’ silverback came and sat behing everyone else. Francois told us that he keeps watch behind the group, making sure that everyone is safe. This silverback, Francois told us, is missing his left hand due to a poachers trap. He keeps the stump covered with his right hand but he manages just fine and when the current silverback dies (he’s 34 now) this guy will take over as leader in spite of his handicap.
Anyways, I just got out my FZ30 and started clicking away. After a few minutes I asked Deck to do some filming with the camcorder (not his favourite job …. He much prefers just to watch, that is watch and instruct on where I’m missing a good photo!!) ….. Oh, oh, the battery is dead L, It must have gotten turned on in the bag during our trip as it had been fully charged when we left home – oh well, it’s not the end of the world and I have my trusty FZ30. So I snap and snap …. 350 pictures later…..
During our time with the Gorillas Muhabura certainly showed us his mischievous side. He came scampering towards us and climbed up a sapling right beside the Scottish girl. He came so close to her that one of the guards rushed over to her to get her to move backwards… quickly! What a little devil Muhabura is, I fell totally and utterly in love with him and couldn’t take my eyes of him for the entire time we were there. Near the end of our time with the Amahoros, the Mum with the 4 week old came to the front of the group and we all got to see the baby – so, so cute – as too is the 4 month old! A short while later one of the females gave the silverback ‘the eye’. He ignored her for a while and then François tapped me on the shoulder ‘the silverback is mating’ he said. What?….. I was still watching the babies but my focus soon changed. Well I think it was Wayne (again, Wayne your influence on this trip is noted!) who said it was a bit of ‘Wham, Bam…..’ and that’s certainly what it was but afterwards, the female turned backwards to look at the Silverback with the most memorable look on her face ….. it said …… Aawww, … I love you’ . I managed to capture it on camera and I will definitely post it when I go through my 2000 plus photos.

All too soon it was time to say goodbye to the Amahoros …. But wait, our path is blocked by two of the younger gorillas. One of the guides walks slowly towards the path to ‘encourage’ them to move. Ah, Ah, you don’t do that …. One of the gorillas came towards the guide while he (the guide) backs away, and gives him a little push, as if to say – ‘No, you can’t do that’. So change of plan. We have to make a track between some bushes going through the middle of the clearing with the main body of the group to our left and some of the younger ones to our right. This track is going across a slope and we have to slowly follow the tracker one by one. So off we go. Deck is a couple of people in front of me (of course I’m one of the last as I’m ‘inhaling’ my last few minutes with the gorillas). We’re moving along slowly when next thing there’s a ‘stop’. At that stage I don’t know why we have stopped but when I catch up with Deck a few minutes alter he tells me what happened. With the slope and Decks runners with their ‘non-grip’, he had slipped and fallen on his bum. Muhabura, being the little devil he is, decided that he wanted to get from the top of the slope to the bottom ….. via Decks feet!! He ran right across them!!!
After Decks incident, we all gather where we left our bags. We pack up and start our descent from 6,700feet to 5,500 feet. It was definitely easier on the legs going downhill but it was harder to manoeuvre as it was slippery and we would have ended up on our bums many times had it not been for those walking sticks. One thing to note on the walking sticks, on the way up we both had sticks with ‘rounded’ tops on them but on the way down Deck had one with no ‘top’, just a straight ‘ended’ bamboo stick and it wasn’t nearly as good as the rounded one as you couldn’t lean down on it or it would hurt your hand. I actually had to swap sticks with Deck as his shoes were so bad with no grip that he needed all the help he could get in order to stay upright.
Anyways, after a LOT more whingeing from Mr. Local Guy, we all made it down to our vehicles. We paid our porter and gave him quite a large tip (as the bag had been pretty heavy) and he was SOO thankful. It was now around 11am (it took only about 35 – 40 minutes to make our descent) and we set off with Richard and Francois to Rhuengeri. We noted that no-one (!!) had tipped Francois at all and during the journey he seemed quite and a bit disappointed so Deck gave him our tip on the way and he seemed to cheer up then. I can’t believe no-one else tipped him, what bad form!
OnlyMeOirish is offline  
Aug 17th, 2006, 03:27 PM
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I was going to correct you that the Amaharo missing the arm is a black back. But looking at my video, of him you can see the silver hair is growing. I can imagine there is only more of it now! They say he is pretty anxious to take over. Ever with one arm he will have no problem running things.

you can see the one Imdelda is talking about at waynehazleDOTcom/eastafrica/ look for the Gorillas Part 2.

It was someone else that said they saw the Amaharo silverback matting with one of the females & that he didn't put a lot of time into foreplay or cuddling afterwards. Hey he's old

He much prefers just to watch, that is watch and instruct on where I’m missing a good photo!!)

RELATIONSHIPS. Don't get me started ...
waynehazle is offline  
Aug 17th, 2006, 03:49 PM
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This is great--you have me putting gorilla watching back to the top of my list with your wonderful descriptions and enthusiasm. So glad your luck shifted for you.
bat is offline  
Aug 17th, 2006, 04:47 PM
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I'm the one who saw the Amaharo silverack mate back in June. There really was no foreplay.

The backback with one hand was really close to us during our visit and Muhabora grabbed the tracker who was standing right next to me. Our guide grabbed me and pulled me back or I might have been next! Really cool experience.

I'm really enjoying your report Imelda.
martync is offline  
Aug 18th, 2006, 04:55 AM
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Poor Deck!
Non grip shoes on slippery slopes, gorillas running across his feet! I'm assuming he went on trek # 2? What a sport.Did he take his sense of humor with him? I hope he can chuckle at all of this whlie looking back on it. I must admit his misadventures have brougt a few grins to my face. I'm loving your report, I've never even considered trekking to see gorillas, so am really enjoying your story..can't wait for more
countingdown is offline  
Aug 18th, 2006, 05:29 AM
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What troupers you and poor lucky Deck are.
So sad about the poor beast with the missing hand - interesting how he seems to hide it - such a human trait.

I just love your descriptions - it make me appreciate that the gorillas still unpredictible i.e. the human interactions are not affecting them negatively.

Very glad you like your Fz30 - best camera I've had. Did you try the video on it? It's pretty good. Keep it coming!
cybor is offline  
Aug 18th, 2006, 05:45 AM
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This is so much fun to read - thanks! I was really hoping you would get a good look at the little baby, and I can't wait to see the photo of "the look"!

Did they tell you how Mr #2's hand was treated? So sad...

cynstalker is offline  
Aug 18th, 2006, 06:34 AM
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Wow, what a great trip! Every time I read about the gorillas it really makes me want to see them. Your experience with them sounds so awesome.

sundowner is offline  
Aug 18th, 2006, 07:22 AM
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This is wonderful Imelda! My boyfriend had wanted to visit the Amahoros on our second trek, as Katie Faucett, the head of the Karisoke Research Center, told him that they were her favorites. We also later found out that most of the guides prefer that group too (though they won't tell you that they like any group better) because the silverback and black back like to play with the humans. Seems they lived up to form on your visit! Can't wait to hear more. Also, Monica---from what I hear the Virunga Lodge is so fantastic, it might be worth the 1 hour drive (we had a 1 hour drive from Ruhengeri and it really wasn't bad to get up at 5am instead of 6am before our trek). Actually not visiting/staying there is one of the few things I regret from our trip. This couple who was also travelling around the country stayed there and said the view was out of this world! How often do you get to have a G&T at the top of a volcano range!!!
Lucia78 is offline  
Aug 18th, 2006, 08:37 AM
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Wayne, This guy was definately a silverback and took his duties as second in command very seriously as he stayed right at the back and watched over everyone.

Bat, I'm afraid my description doesn't even come close to doing ouor experience justice, it was so much better than my words could possibly describe!

Marty, Sorry for the mixup with Wayne, I just couldn't remember who posted about the 'non-foreplay' mating - it inspired quite a few comments if I remember correctly . What a little imp Muhabura is to tease people like that - I think that's why I fell for him.

Teri, We actually only did one trek unfortunately - I would have loved to have done a second one but it was not to be.
Yes, Deck did have a few 'incidents' which were quite funny but he has a VERY good sense of humour and actually got a kick out of them himself. Especially the coke can incident - he told me not to forget to post that on Fodors! And I think he was secretly glad to have had such a close encounter with Muhabura - to tell the truth I was a little envious!!

Sherry, I also felt very sorry for Mr#2 (as Cyn) it especially as it was caused by humans. He seemed to get along just fine without it though.
I LOVED the FZ30 by the way, just like you said I would! I actually didn't use the video function at all and in hindsight I should have done when I realised my camcorder was 'dead'.

Cyn, I will do my best to get photos up soon but with my slow dial up I am having trouble with it timing out when I try to put them up in Kodak. I have given up for the moment as I have to do some culling but when I get my report finished I'll try to do it on my work computer.
Regarding Mr#2's hand, I didn't ask how he was treated - I'm sure ORTPN intervened but I completely forgot to ask after the trek.

Cindy, It was definately an experience of a lifetime and if you can then 'DO IT'!!! You won't ever regret doing it.

Lucia, I was so excited when they allocated us to the Amahoros. I had seen pictures of Muhabura that were posted here and I really wanted to see him .... he definately quite impressed that I could identify Muhabura in the group

OnlyMeOirish is offline  
Aug 18th, 2006, 09:10 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
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I'm really playing catch-up here. What a fabulous report and what an adventure. And what great attitudes!!!

Looking forward to reading more!

cooncat3 is offline  
Aug 18th, 2006, 02:20 PM
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Oops, I've just re-read what I posted and instead of reading ......'I had seen pictures of Muhabura that were posted here and I really wanted to see him .... he definately quite impressed that I could identify Muhabura in the group'..., it SHOULD have read 'I had seen pictures of Muhabura that were posted here and I really wanted to see him .... he definately lived up to our expectations and Francois was quite impressed that I could identify Muhabura in the group'.

Glad youre enjoying Sharon, Promise I will try to post again Sunday or Monday (I've got a wedding tomorrow).

OnlyMeOirish is offline  
Aug 21st, 2006, 04:49 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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What a great report! A visit to Rwanda to see the gorillas is on the top of my list.
Thanks again!
TheMac is offline  

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