Trekking through the rain forest the air is warm and humid. Anticipation builds with every step that a family of gorillas might be around the next corner. Heartbeat pounding in your ears from excitement, you finally come face-to-face with the most magnificent of the world’s great apes. You’ve traveled halfway across the planet for this and the moment has arrived – you’re looking directly into the eyes of a mountain gorilla – and your world has changed forever.
Beth had wanted to see mountain gorillas since she was 8 years old, so she and her friend Nikki came to us for help fulfilling this lifelong dream. We were pleased to be asked to help make that dream come true and we’re excited that their expectations were surpassed in every way. Here’s their story…
The Virunga mountains form a prehistoric backdrop for one of Africa’s most thrilling wildlife encounters. Beth and Nikki trekked the rain forest in Rwanda, where the mighty Virunga volcano peaks can be seen through gaps in the forest canopy, tempting intrepid explorers ever higher up the slopes. Their footsteps followed paths littered with fresh spoor of the mountains’ elusive buffalo and elephant, and puddles attended by armies of butterflies. As they trekked, their movements were accompanied by the songs of colorful birds flitting among the trees. The ultimate reward for their efforts? Time spent with endangered mountain gorillas.
Beth and Nikki trekked the gorillas twice, something we strongly recommend to our travelers.
“On the first trek we found the gorillas in about 30 minutes, and on the second one it took us over three hours to find our family. BUT, each time you find them it’s like time stands still. I must admit I shed a few tears each time we found our gorilla family.” - Beth
Beth also shared her favorite insider trekking tip with us – “GLOVES! Bring solid garden gloves (thanks for the tip, AAC!). The stinging nettle is not something you want to mess with. I would even bring thicker pants next time as some of the nettle went through my hiking pants. And yes I will go back – Rwanda was safe and beautiful!”
“I just loved Rwanda. The people were wonderful and we were pleasantly surprised by the ex-poachers village. Both Beth and I thought we were visiting a museum. Boy were we surprised!” - Nikki
Beth finished by saying “It was so comforting to know that when we were in Rwanda we had emergency contacts associated with AAC. I will never take another safari without AAC.” Nikki echoed that sentiment with “I would never try to book a trip like this on my own. You guys are wonderful and had everything all set for us. Thank you.”
Photos courtesy of Livingstone Club member Beth Bodden and Journey Specialist Anisha Barrientos