Gorillas

Gorillas …..

We make such good time in the Congo that we decide to visit tributary of the mighty Congo river for a boat trip along the river to a Gorilla reserve. Here the staff are slowly and successfully rewilding Gorillas that have been born in capativity into the wild population of 70 gorillas on the vast reserve.

To get to the river is a 10km twisty and hilly off road track over soft sandy ground, we get shook up a fair bit and spin our wheels a few times but just manage to avoid getting stuck (next time on the way out we lower the tyre pressures, lazy mistake on my part).

After we arrive at camp Abio two other overlanding trucks join us, a novelty for us to have company, so we make a plan to go to see the Gorillas in the morning, as it is already dusk, and catch up on the stories of the other folks and discuss routes and plans together, swapping tips and ideas.

The next day just as we are about to leave for the river the heavens open and the trip is put off, for one hour, then another hour, then another. Finally we leave with a couple who just arrived for the trip and the others decided to wait longer.

The gorilla trip was brilliant, as the staff are feeding them fruit and vegetation from the jungle to train them to survive themselves, they come to the shore, gradually they learn what they can eat, and learn to find it themselves in the jungle, in the meantime the charity benefits from the £80 each we pay to tag along to see. The reserve is run by a UK charity the Aspinal Foundation.

Thankfully the Gorillas don’t swim, so we can get close, 3m or so, without being in danger and we can get to them on the water quite quickly, compared to having to trek through the jungle this is quite easy. However the boat ride itself turns into an adventure, we hit a log and break the prop on the outboard so have to be rescued, some folks are nervous waiting on the bank as we are keeping an eye out for hippos who’s tracks lead to the water just by our stricken boat

A fantastic day, good company, The deep Congo continues to surprise and delight us, and it was not even on our plan, only the closure of Gabon forced us down this inland route.

The trip has taken a big turn for the better

The road to the Gorilla sanctuary was 10km like this, very loose deep sandy soil in places, should have lowered my tyre pressures and did on the way back…
A novelty on this trip, other overlanders, in this case German, Portuguese, Moroccan, and French

 

The next morning, just as we were about to set off, the heavens opened, the serious photographers in the group did not want to go in the rain as it might spoil their shots with drops on the lens, my iPhone did quite well and was less sensitive!
A morning spent swapping stories, I had a small spare part for the stove in the picture so managed to get Paulão’s stove working again, these petrol stoves are carried by many overlanders as you can get petrol anywhere in the world but gas bottle fittings are different in most places, but they are tricky to use and maintain
Stranded by a broken prop on the boat, everyone attempting to look unconcerned about the hippo tracks that are just beside the boat
The replacement boat arrives after half an hour, a wee bit of relief all around as the boat is repaired and we climb back in
The first Gorilla we met, I was astonished how close we were, this is just an iPhone snap not a long lens shot This guy was born in England and is being taught by the little guy below how to fend for himself in the jungle, they are kept on individual islands apart from the main groups until they have learned to look after themselves a process that takes a few years

 

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