Kisoro turned out to be a real gem. Nice enough to stay for 2 nights! We lucked out and scored 3 gorilla tracking permits for a whopping $500 each! But it was worth it. I couldn’t believe that we could get gorilla permits at 9’oclock at night for the next morning! You can only hope to do this in Mgahinga, where gorilla trekking is still somewhat off the beaten track. We pulled into a nice bed and breakfast called the Travelers Rest Inn, which was reported to be Diane Fossy’s oasis out of the field during her gorilla trekking days
We drove up another mountain road the next morning towards the headquarters and got about ¾ of the way there before suffering another setback with the ‘Turtle’, A car fire! Thick white smoke began pouring out of the passenger side dash. We pulled over and lifted the hood to find more smoke. A wire had superheated and began melting along its entire length because the electrician the day before had forgotten to ground it. After putting out the fire, and taking out the wire which turned out to be not in use anyway, we drove for another 20second before the car died. Fine. I’ll walk. The surrounding hills were green and covered with farms and the three giant volcanoes of Mgahinga National Park loomed over us so at least the walk would be scenic.
The gorilla people from Mgahinga National Park actually came and picked us up shortly after and took us on an amazing 10km hike way up on the forested slopes of 3 volcanos where a family of mountain gorillas lives. We found the group ripping down and eating bamboo way up the volcano. They seemed to notice us but otherwise not acknowledge our presence, which was limited to 1 hour. We saw 7 out of the 9 in the family, including 3 silverbacks and a baby. The baby was definitely the most curious of the bunch and came to within 5 feet of me to check me out. I was hoping he would crawl into my backpack so I could take him home.
There is something truly amazing about seeing gorillas so close in the wild. Their actions and expressions are so human-like. On a high from an enlightening experience with such rare and endangered animals, we could not believe it when a quick fix put the Turtle back in action again. And wouldn’t you know it, we made it to Rwanda the next day!