May 1, Bukima Tented Camp, DRC
After a damp cold night at a tented camp at 2400m where hubby and I were the only guests, it was lovely to wake up this morning to a perfect view of Mikeno and Nyiragongo out across the farmlands in the Congo.
We shared our breakfast with Jacques the mouse catching cat and then headed off for the 8am briefing. About an hour and a half later, some faffing about the lack of permit documents, a bit of back and forth on what gorilla group we were going to go visit, the briefing commenced. 5 minutes later we were off, with two rangers (toting the rustiest guns I have ever seen), and two UN workers who have been living in Goma and weren’t exactly the fittest couple we had ever met, so it took us an hour to reach the park boundary.
Mandatory facemasks were donned, and our trusty rangers hacked away lots of the foliage so we could have an amazing 60 minutes hanging out with the gorillas. The highlight was watching these two little gorillas play energetically, while the rest of the family were snoozing, eating bugs off of each other, and licking their armpits (amazing to think of licking your own armpits). The hour passes in about 5 minutes, and hubby and I took 300 pictures. The rain thankfully held off until we had done and then the skies opened up!!!
After some warming coffee we were treated to a free African massage on the hour long ride from Bukima to Mikeno lodge bouncing up and down in the 4wd. The national highway in the DRC is a fantastic example of infrastructure development!! (yes this is national highway no.2)
Note – if you come, please tip generously. Rangers and trackers do a huge amount to support the gorillas and any money you give to them (and indirectly their families and communities) reinforces the value of preserving the gorillas and the national park. On occasions like this, I tip often. If in doubt, give more. As my darling hubby always says, whether we give $10 or $20 makes no difference to us, but makes a huge difference to the recipient. Being a ranger in the national park is a high risk occupation! see article on rangers killed! We tipped $25 to each ranger and $25 to each tracker