We visited two families on our gorilla tour (on two separate days); the Amahoro family and the Susa family (studied by Dian Fossey). We were fortunate to visit the Amahoro family when they were lounging in a clearing so were able to get up very close and watch the family (including the dominant Silverback) interact with one another. On one occasion, an adolescent gorilla approached my sister curious about her camera. Of course, she had to back away though not for fear of the young gorilla which really just looked like it wanted to play.
The Susa family is one of the larger families’ habituated to human contacts and has many Silverbacks, females, adolescents, and young babies. One particular moment of awe for me occurred when a young mother walked within a foot of where I was sitting with a 3-month-old baby on her back, pausing briefly to eat. At that moment, the baby looked at me with big round, almost opaque eyes, and I knew I would have to return (indeed, we are planning a trip to Uganda in the next few years).
We saw 17 gorillas in all, including 1dominant silverback, which is the head of the family. We were told only male gorillas become silverbacks. Their backs become silver around 12 to 15 years of age. It is similar to how men get gray hair when they get older.
We also saw many other young adolescents playing in the trees, swinging from branch to branch, and spent several minutes observing a young brash male, apparently inebriated from eating too many fermented bamboo shoots, try to impress with the occasional beating on his chest. While, the cost to visit with a gorilla family may be prohibitive for some, the chance to see these amazing animals (that share 97% of our DNA) in their natural habitat and contribute to Rwanda’s larger conservation efforts, well justifies the expense. Highly recommended!
Once we met up with the other two trackers, we had to take discuss more the trek before we were awarded our gorilla tracking certificates at the headquarters. The certificate has your name and confirms that you successfully participated in a gorilla safari in Rwanda. The first tracker we met had me follow directly behind him so I was the first person again to appreciate the group we tracked. The first feeling that swept over me was one of relief that we actually got to see the gorillas. The tracker who guided us to the family took very good care of me. He always positioned me in a great spot to see the gorillas. I was very thankful to him.