Experience Rwanda's gorillas and Malawi's elephants in two of Africa's stunning national parks. Seeing animals with such depth of emotion living in their natural environment is a touching experience, a glimpse worth experiencing.
Rwanda -- Volcanoes National Park
Trek through the Virunga Mountains and spend an hour in awe watching a mountain gorilla family as they forage among the bamboo.
After we had tramped through dewy bamboo and across hilly landscapes covered with thick ferns, the guides asked our group of eight people to stop speaking. We then quietly ducked under the brush into a grassy meadow. Maybe ten metres from us, three mountain gorillas squatted on their back legs casually chewing shafts of grass. They were shorter than me, but their build was much wider, with noticeably stronger shoulders and biceps. These female gorillas seemed at ease with our arrival. It was almost as if they nodded a greeting for us to take a seat and partake in some tender shoots, the local specialty.
Malawi — Liwonde National Park
Tuck inside your tent while hippos frolic in the camp’s swimming pool and elephants sample the foliage.
The temperature had cooled, so I snuggled tightly inside my sleeping bag and pulled the top layer close around my chin. We fell asleep to hippo grunts as they frolicked in the river about one hundred metres away. Around one in the morning, we were both awoken by a twig cracking. Crack. Ping. The last snap was less than a metre from our tent. The next noise came from directly above our tent. Crunch. Chomp. Munch. A hippo would not eat branches so high, for they tended to graze on grass. This was a much larger creature, one that was able to extend its long reach towards its chosen sapling. For a massive animal, elephants could tread surprisingly softly. The sounds when it approached were no louder than those made by a small child stepping on a branch.
Dust in My Pack includes more about these and other adventures across seven continents.
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