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There really is no way to describe this experience that provides it justice. You've been to zoos, you've hiked all over the world. You may have even had some amazing encounters with large mammals. Seen buffalo at Yellowstone? Elephants in the Serengeti? Awesome experiences without a doubt but, in all honesty, nothing compares to trekking the mountain gorillas. Debate the connection as you will but they are our genetic kin; sharing nearly 97% of our DNA.
So what does the trek entail? First, you will go with a group of no more than eight other adventure seekers. Of course, you will also be accompanied by well trained Rwandan park rangers. The rangers not only are able to navigate the jungle but they are trained to do so in a manner that ensures that human and gorilla safety are at the forefront of all actions. Your friends will not believe it but you will actually hike into the jungle in search of one the most fascinating creatures in the world. Your trek begins early in the morning with your orientation with the guides and your fellow trekkers. You will embark from the base of the volcano. The first part of the hike will take you through local farmland before you reach the edge of the jungle. From there, the trek begins. You may hike for hours through lush rain forest to get your first glimpse or you may find your group within half an hour. Hey, this isn't Disneyland. But don't worry, the wait is worth it.
Once you discover your group of mountain gorillas, you will have entered a new world. No longer are you in charge, they are. But fear not, unlike the depictions in movies, the gorillas are docile creatures. You will spend the next hour of your life fully enthralled in their world. You will see the mighty silver back managing the group from his comfortable position. Mothers will be fussing over their babies and "teenage" gorillas will be busy frolicking and playing with one another. Oh and leave the binoculars at home. This will all unfold in front of your eyes mere meters away. While you can never initiate an encounter, it is not uncommon for a gorilla to pass within inches of you. Yeah, this is the experience that fulfills anyone's bucket list.
As of 2018 there are slightly than 1,000 mountain gorillas in the world, all of them in the wild. This is up from only 600 thirty years ago.