Simpson, a reknown celebrity traveled to the African continent with her entire family to see the impressive mountain gorillas. She shared her experience with us.
INSIGHT SAFARIS Travel: for how many hours did you hike before meeting the mountain gorillas? Was it a challenging climb?
Gorilla Trekker: We had 2 gorilla treks on different days. The initial trek was just forty five minutes, and it was a really easy hike. The majority of it was through the hilly farmland. As We got closer to the mountain gorillas we began hiking through the dense forest. Some areas of the forest were properly cleared out into pathways however other areas were thick so our trackers cleared the way using a machete.
The other trek was a somewhat longer and took us up into the lofty mountains, however we didn’t go very far into the dense forest to view these giant mountain gorillas.
INSIGHT SAFARIS: How many people did you hike within your group?
SIMPSON: we trekked in a group of eight people accompanied by a guide plus 3 trackers.
INSIGHT SAFARIS: How where the trackers find out where the mountain gorillas where?
SIMPSON: The trackers must have a scheme of where the various gorilla groups were as in the early morning some other trackers walk into the forest to find the gorilla groups. These then radio to the rest of the group and give them directions of where to go. These gorillas just move half a kilometer each day so because they don’t go very far, it is easier to locate them starting from their previous location.
INSIGHT SAFARIS: What was it like when you initially saw the gorillas?
SIMPSON: It was a very amazing experience of my entire life. I all felt like it a dream and the gorillas are all real. We got very close to these giants at some points that could have even touched one (truth is that I was tempted but certainly if I had it would have got me in trouble). It was hard to believe how their movements were really human-like.
INSIGHT SAFARIS: How long did you watch the gorillas?
SIMPSON: We were permitted to observe the gorillas for 1 hour however I would have spent with them the entire day! The park just accepts a single group of gorillas to see a gorilla family each day.
INSIGHT SAFARIS: What behavior where you able to observe?
SIMPSON: on the first day it actually rained and these gorillas are some inactive in the rain. They sit a lot beneath the tree shed to shelter themselves from the rain. We also observed a mother gorilla that had folded her hands sitting beneath tree branches. She simply stared at us however didn’t appear to care about our presence. she actually slighted shifted her arms and later we discovered that she was protecting her baby against the rain. There is no way we could have even imagined that she had a baby with her.
On the second day it didn’t rain. As we walked through the forest we came across a clearing with nearly fifteen gorillas. the majority of the gorillas were seen eating and they would lower their mouths to pull up the roots. Gorillas were quite funny. Also there were a couple of mothers carrying their babies. The youths were feeding and playing about while the huge silverback simply sat and folded his arms as he observed everyone. As our one hour with the mountain gorillas was coming to an end, the silverback raised up and began walking in our direction. At that moment we were able to observe its huge size. He sat just in front of us, as though he was posing for pictures, and looked at us. Certainly many of us were still in shock while others were busy taking pictures with their cameras. After about 3 minutes, he rose again and walked off. Unhurriedly the rest of the gorillas followed him. We trailed the group into the dense forest; another gorilla’s family walked past us and did not seem bothered at all by our presence. I was actually kneeling so I rose to see eye-to-eye with these giants that by passed us.
INSIGHT SAFARIS: were you surprised by anything during the encounter?
SIMPSON: on the first day as we observed a couple of gorillas take cover from the rain, we heard this grating in the branches just above us. Then sudden a giant silverback came down on one of the trees in front of us, knocking me off-balance into another trackers! If I had not fallen backwards, I think he would have hit me! he then stood in front of us and hit his chest as though implying that he is the boss here. He later moved on and the rest of us were all astonished.
INSIGHT SAFARIS: Did they notice your presence?
SIMPSON: They actually didn’t seem to even care or detect our presence. They simply occasionally stared at us for a short time before going back to what they were doing.
INSIGHT SAFARIS: Did you feel in danger?
SIMPSON: astonishingly I don’t believe any of us had that feeling (apart from when the huge silverback swung down from the tree). I feel part of that came from the calm conduct of our forest trackers plus guides. There wasn’t a think that deterred them so that helped to keep us all calm and relaxed.
INSIGHT SAFARIS: Many people say that observing a mountain gorilla in the wild is a very amazing experience. Is this true?
SIMPSON: Yes! I truly agree and encourage every one to take this amazing adventure
INSIGHT SAFARIS: Any advice for those planning to trek the mountain gorillas?
SIMPSON: Rain gears, even if it appears to be sunny and the skies clear, you should have these on you since it rains at whatever time here. My rain jacket saved me that day. Although it doesn’t rain, the forest is pretty wet. My rain pants helped me to sit and even kneel on the damp ground to have a closer view of them.