We had only been walking for about 15 minutes when we heard a commotion ahead of us. A raw primate scream echoed around the trees. The gorillas were up ahead, and all of the noise was a little startling. Were they grumpy this morning? Were we going to find ourselves in the middle of a gorilla battle?
David, our guide, stopped us and advised us we would soon be with the gorillas, and gave us a final briefing calming us down in the process! My heart was still pounding and my hands steadily shaking as we left the path and waded into the dense vegetation. Suddenly it was really happening and I would be face to face with gorillas.
As we noticed the first large female in front of us I think I held my breath as we slowly scrambled past. She was sitting in a patch of flattened vegetation, chewing on leaves and fresh green stems seeming oblivious to our presence just a few meters away.
David called us on up the hill to set us in the middle of the group. There were youngsters hanging from the trees above us, adults sat around relaxing and eating and the huge silverback keeping an eye on proceedings as he too enjoyed breakfast. The smell of the freshly crushed foliage was heavy in the air and we all stood round in hushed awe.
With some unspoken command slowly all the gorillas would move off to the next spot for tasty treats, the youngsters sliding down their trees like tiny, furry firemen. They moved so gracefully and swiftly through the forest and in contrast we all stumbled along to keep up.
The gorillas would communicate with each other with low deep grunts or sounds that even resembled a deep bark. As they crossed the path up ahead you would catch their unique musky scent and realise the power behind their huge
We watched as they found a tree filled with dead wood, which is a particular delicacy to gorillas. They reached in and scooped out the best bits of the tree to snack on. It was easy to see the intelligence that lay behind their inquisitive eyes.
Babies would cling to their mother's thick fur or be found playing with others on the ground before the entire group, including the great silverback, ascended high into the trees marking that our hour with the gorillas was up.
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