so yesterday we went to see the gorillas. actually seeing them was absolutely breathtaking, but the trip wasn't without its problems.
we stayed the night at gift of nature lodge which was absolutely lovely. we were so pleased to have proper pillows and real scrambled egg in the morning!
it turns out we dint have permits (i dont think) but our trip was a 'special arrangement' between denis and his friends. having compared notes with someone else at the lodge who went last week, it definitely sounds like we got the rugged version. rosie and ross (who went last week) said they had a guide, and a man at the front and another at the back with guns, and the guide had a machete that he used to cut a path through the vines. we had one man who had nothing more than a stick to steady himself on the wet ground. not a gun or machete in sight! of course at the time we had no idea that we were SUPPOSED to have a guide with a gun, so we werent too woried.
the trek was very tough going, at high altitude its very difficult to breathe properly and the terrain wasnt easy to get through. you don't take paths, you follow where the gorillas have been, and when your guide can't cut the vines, you find yourself entangled and falling ungracefully on your arse really quite often. we trekked for about 6 hours in total, during which time we all got stung and bitten by an array of tropical insects.
finding the gorillas was an absolute joy, and such a relief to stop climbing. we saw the rare sight of two families crossing eachothers path, which mean that they were making aggressive sounds to warn eachother off. i would have appreciated a man with a rifle at that point! the first gorilla we saw was a big silverback male who had been extradited from his group. he was very funny and spent a lot of time with his middle finger stuck up at us! i have some great photos of that. we later saw a female who was only about 3m away from us, which was absolutely amazing/terrifying.
on the way back the climb was really hard, and i found myself having a panic attack because i felt like i couldn't breathe. i've never had one before and it was pretty bloody terrifying. one of our group as well, steve, was vomiting though he claimed it was just from the exertion of walking. when we finally got back to the car it was a very different story.
when we got to the top, we were all breathless, but steve didnt regain composure like the rest of us, and continued to struggle to breathe. he said he had felt fine until he was stung on the head by a wasp. getting in the car, it quickly became apparent that he was having a pretty servere allergic reaction to the sting. his lips turned blue, and he said he couldn't feel his arms or face. the serisouness of the situation was aparent to us, but the african road seriously hindered us in getting to hospital quickly. when we eventually arrived at the hospital they were so chilled out it was annoying, and they didn't seem too bothered. thankfully steve seemed to have manufactured enough of his own adrenaline by then to be slowly recovering.
thats about all i have to tell you at this point, its been a miserable rainy day here and i have a rotten cold, but tomorrow we are heading out to a wedding party of the sister of one of the staff at the lodge. they have kiled 3 cows for the occaision!
Love, Lucy xx