|Village children at the start of the Bisoke hike|
|Mt. Bisoke obscured by clouds. Irish potatoes are growing in the foreground.|
|Check out the steepness of the trail and the mud|
|"Welcomes you to Bisoke Crater Lake. Swimming is not allowed"|
|A group two days later had such bad weather that they couldn't see the lake|
|Where do the shoes end and the mud begin?|
|The land as the base of the volcanoes is so beautiful. |
Here are black volcanic soil mounds ready for planting.
The hike was beautiful and so different than the vegetation on Bisoke. We started by walking through fields and villages. Once we climbed over the stone buffalo wall (built to keep the park's buffaloes from leaving the park and eating farmers' potatoes), we were in a bamboo forest. It was raining by that point and the bamboo didn't do much to stop the rain from reaching us. It promised to be a wet and cold day and that is what we got. Thank goodness for synthetic hiking clothes. Once we left the bamboo forest and ascended into the jungle, we were surrounded by leafy plants and plants that smelled like lantanas when broken.
Our guide and one tracker used machetes to cut away plants covering the trail and later they used their machetes a lot to cut a new trail for us to follow. That is how it is on a gorilla hike. We hiked up to a certain point on a more-or-less established trail, but then the trackers told our guide that the silverback (the dominant male) was moving down to the creek bed so we had to backtrack and head down into the ravine to meet him. Down the established trail we went, but then, at some point, we left the established trail and started slipping and sliding along the side of a mountain and then down the mountain to the creek bed. I thought that part was pretty cool; it made the hike more of an adventure. Once in the creek bed, we left our poles and backpacks (no food or drinks near the gorillas) in the care of the soldiers and hiked up the bed to where the silverback was enjoying a mid-morning leafy snack.
|Watching Mr. Lucky from the creek bed. |
He is to the left, out of the shot.
Once he settled down, we were able to get pretty close to Mr. Lucky, only 10-15 feet way from him. It was amazing. I could see his huge potbelly and his face. He would cross his arms and scratch his triceps. He just sat there and waited for the females to come to him and eventually they did come.
|One of the females|