. To be so close to a wild animal was exhilarating and not once did I feel in any danger of these gentle giants. They are playful, peaceful and some of their mannerisms are very human like. Unfortunately we only got to spend 1 hour with the group, the reason for this is to reduce the stress and risk of human disease being passed to the group which could potentially kill them. It's going to be tough to top this experience during the rest of the trip and I was on a major depression for the rest of the day, but I can count myself one of the lucky one's to have had the opportunity to see these beautiful animals.
It would be rude to come to Rwanda and ignore the very sad and recent history which of course is the genocide of 1994. The majority Hutu tribe brainwashed by the government and members of state brutally wiped out over 1 million minority Tutsi's in only 100 days. At the moment there are 100 days of mourning to commemorate those lost in the genocide and it's very evident throughout the country how many people this has directly affected. I visited the Kigali genocide museum and memorial which has three mass graves holding roughly about 260,000 remains. The museum was very informative and I spent an emotional 3 hours there trying to understand how neighbours, relatives and friends shot, bludgeoned, raped, and tortured each other in one of the most appalling atrocities in recent history. The following day we took a short trip to a memorial outside of town where 10,000 people were murdered in one day while they took shelter in a church
. On top of the seats in the church remain the clothes from all the victims and behind it is a mass grave holding 45,000 remains from people killed in the local are. We were allowed down the steps to the grave which was a narrow corridor of about 50 metres and on both sides lay all the skulls and bones of the victims stacked on shelves 15 foot high. Like the gorillas an unforgettable experience but in the most opposite of ways.
To lighten up my day I went to see the new Superman in 3D afterwards in the very modern Kigali city centre afterwards. An example of how Rwanda has moved on from the genocide and is not allowing it's recent history stop the country from progressing towards a brighter future. Tanzania bound tomorrow and two days of bone rattling and crazy driving lies ahead but the reward is a safari in the Serengeti. Photo's to follow folks, the owner of the Internet place is off to business school so I'm being kicked out.
I won't lie it was slightly embarrassing arriving at Volcans National Park into the middle of the car park which was full of Land Cruisers and Safari jeeps on the back of the equivalent of a Honda 50. That wasn't going to dampen my excitement though and I proceeded to play the poor, lonely Irish guy and bum a lift of a Dutch couple. A 45 minute drive was followed by a 2 hour hike through local farmland, a bamboo forest and jungle. At this point the anticipation was driving me crazy and as you all know I am not the most patient chap, right at that moment the guide said leave down your backpacks, food and water and turn your flashes off. It had finally arrived, we walked over a fallen tree and down a small slope and there they were. The Susa group, a family of 36 mountain gorillas and the biggest group in the Virungas. Made up of 3 silver backs, black backs, females, juveniles and even a set of baby twins. The most jaw-dropping sight I have ever seen and the first one we came across was a 200 kg silver back, I can't even explain how enormous he was and we were only 5 metres away