CELEBRATING DIAN FOSSEY 87TH BIRTHDAY TODAY

Today would have been Dian Fossey’s 87th birthday, and though she was killed before she could realize the full value of her important work, we think she would be proud – and maybe a little surprised – that her vision lives on.

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Mountain gorillas still exist today because of Dian’s courage and persistence. She NEVER wavered in her commitment to the gorillas – even in the face of significant challenges. But Dian’s legacy isn’t just the mountain gorillas…she proved that one person can truly change the world.

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Dian and her legacy has given us more time with the gorillas.

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THE DIAN FOSSEY GORILLA FUND INTERNATIONAL 

Ellen DeGeneres, a much loved American comedian, television host, actress, writer, producer, and LGBT activist, turned 60!  Her beautiful wife Portia gave her and Africa a very special gift. Watch and read this.

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We would like to celebrate Dian’s birthday today by showing you how you can make a difference and showing you how to get to see these wonderful endangered gorillas in Rwanda and DRC.

Click here to donate to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International or visit the Ellen’s passion and read how she is making a difference.

And when you are ready to book Gorilla Trekking with us, let us know as we are happy to assist you with this once in a life time adventure, a memory that will stay with you forever.

Here are some striking images taken by Nelis Wolmarans of the exceptional Gorillas.

 

GORILLAS

Gorillas live in Central Africa. There are two main species of gorilla, the Eastern Gorilla and the Western Gorilla. The Western Gorilla lives in Western Africa in countries such as Cameroon, the Congo, the Central African Republic, and Gabon. The Eastern Gorilla lives in Eastern African countries such as Uganda and Rwanda.

Gorillas live in a range of habitats from swamps to forests. There are lowland gorillas which live in bamboo forests, swamps and lowland forests. There are also mountain gorillas which live in forests in the mountains.

WHAT DO THEY EAT?
Gorillas are mostly herbivores and eat plants. The plants they eat include leaves, stems pith, fruit, and bamboo. Sometimes they will eat insects, especially ants. A full-grown adult male will eat around 50 pounds of food in a day.
HOW BIG DO THEY GET?
Gorillas are the largest species of primates. The males are often twice as big as the females. The males grow to around 5 ½ feet tall and weigh around 400 pounds. The females grow to 4 ½ feet tall and weigh around 200 pounds.

Gorillas have long arms, even longer than their legs! They use their long arms to “knuckle-walk”. This is where they use the knuckles on their hands to walk on all fours.

They are mostly covered with brown hair. Gorillas from different areas may have different coloured hair. For example, the western gorilla has the lightest hair and the mountain gorilla has the darkest. The western lowland gorilla can also have greyish hair and red collared forehead. When male gorillas get older their hair turns white on their back. These older males are called Silverback gorillas.

ARE THEY ENDANGERED?
Yes, gorillas are endangered. Recently the Ebola Virus killed a number of them. This disease, coupled with people hunting gorillas, has put both species further in danger of extinction.

FUN FACTS ABOUT GORILLAS 

  • Gorillas have hands and feet like humans including opposable thumbs and big toes.
  • Some gorillas in captivity have learned to use sign language to communicate with humans.
  • Gorillas live in small groups called troops or bands. In each troop there is one dominant male Silver-back, some female gorillas, and their offspring.
  • Gorillas live around 35 years. They can live longer, up to 50 years, in captivity.
  • They sleep at night in nests. Baby gorillas will stay in their mother’s nests until they are around 2 ½ years old.
  • Gorillas are generally calm and passive animals; however, the Silver-back will defend his troop if he feels threatened.
  • They are highly intelligent and have now been observed using tools in the wild.

Personal Collection by Thompsons Africa, is proud to say our guide for visiting the Gorillas is Nelis Wolmarans. 

Nelis has led both photographic and private family safaris in Southern, Eastern and Central Africa’s most iconic and game rich wildlife destinations.  Nelis has an intimate knowledge of the animals, conditions, and requirements to capture breathtaking moments. His ability to transfer his passion and skills to a wide audience of photographers from novice to advanced sets him apart from other guides.

Having lived and worked in many of the countries to which he conducts tours, Nelis has a very good understanding of the various attractions as well as the travel requirements associated with these iconic destinations.  Nelis believes in giving back to the communities and the environment in which he plies his trade, and his approach is underpinned by a sustainable and ethical approach to his and his clients’ interactions with community and nature.

Whilst on tour with Nelis, clients interested in photography benefit from post processing workshops between activities and these newfound skills will enable even the most amateur photographer to go home with an enviable portfolio of images.

Here are some of his photography whilst on tour with the beautiful Gorillas. To view Nelis website to see more of his outstanding work CLICK HERE. 

To book a Gorilla Adventure contact us,we will make your dreams come true and yet again tick of your bucket list.

TOP 5 BUCKET LIST IN EAST AFRICA

East Africa is one of the most visited regions in Africa owing to its magnificent landscape and variety of both wildlife and scenery.

East Africa offers adventures of all kinds, and the chance to relax on sensational island beaches too. Check out some of the interesting places to visit and things to do in East Africa.

THE MIGRATION

One of the best things to do in East Africa is to go on a safari across the national parks. Having a chance to watch the great annual migration is every traveller’s dream. Both Maasai Mara in Kenya and Serengeti National Park in Tanzania offer the absolute classic African safari setting. Watch out for the big five. Wildebeests crossing the Mara River during the great Serengeti migration. This is one of the most amazing, emotional and thrilling things you will ever get to experience.

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GORILLA TREKKING

A close encounter with the mountain gorillas of Bwindi National park in Uganda will stay with you for a lifetime. A variety of operators run tours, tracking different troupes in the dense Bwindi forest. A close encounter with a family of wild gorillas led by a formidable silverback is probably on most travellers’ wish list. Trekking deep in to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest will bring you in front of these magnificent creatures where your heart will, almost literally, be in your mouth, and all the while a little voice in your head is telling you to stay calm. It’s a magical hour but Uganda is so much more.  Home to the ‘Big 5’, Uganda is dripping with authentic wildlife and cultural experiences. It offers you a true sense of adventure and rewards those intrepid souls with opportunities to track chimpanzees in Kibale, watch the River Nile explode down Murchison Falls, tick lions, leopards, elephants, over 1000 species of birds off of your wildlife wish list plus many more.  From the mist shrouded ‘Mountains of the Moon in the Rwenzori National Park to the bustling markets of Kampala. Learn to pick tea and witness the tree climbing lions of Ishasha. Immerse yourself in Uganda and it promises you some of the most complete African adventures imaginable.

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GREAT EAST AFRICAN LAKES

Last but not least on your list for things to do in East Africa is exploring the Great East Africa lakes, most of which are located on the floor of the Rift Valley across all the East Africa countries. East Africa has some of the largest and most ecologically diverse freshwater systems on the planet. Check out the beautiful birds, hippos and crocodiles from the safety of your platoon boat as you cruise around these lakes, including Lake Victoria, Naivasha, Tanganyika, Nakuru, Tana, Turkana among others.

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HIKING EAST AFRICAN MOUNTAINS

What can be more adventurous than hiking up the world’s tallest freestanding mountain? Mount Kilimanjaro or the Mount Kenya, which are both blessed with an assortment of wildlife that remain in their natural habitat. Also include trekking The Simien Mountains in Ethiopia on your bucket list for things to do in East Africa. So, for the avid hikers this is the place for you. Endless panoramic views of a place you will never forget and an exciting journey to tick off your bucket list.

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EAST AFRICAN COAST LINE

Make plans to tour East Africa’s coast to catch a beautiful sunset over glassy ocean waters. Mombasa and Zanzibar are historically fascinating and also have incredible beaches. Zanzibar’s ancient Stone Town and the serenity of the region makes the island the best honeymoon spot in East Africa. Backed by incredible accommodation facilities, East Africa’s coast would be the best place to enjoy a cool coastal environment. While at the coast, enjoy activities like snorkelling, scuba diving, dhow sailing trips, sea kayaking and diving with dolphins. The weather is hot and its perfect for lazy days on the beach, a perfect ending to a Safari in the Maasai Mara.

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As we are African Specialists and we know exactly where to go, contact us so we can make your East African Trip the best in your life. Lots of bucket lists to tick off.

GORILLAS IN RWANDA

VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK/ VIRUNGA CONSERVATION

Found in the Northwest of Rwanda, a visit to the Volcanoes National Park is a must and, in many cases, the very reason one visits Rwanda. The park is home to around 10 Gorilla families (8 permits are given per family so a total of 80 permits per day).

It is an area of thickly vegetated rain forest and bamboo. It is where the legendary Dian Fossey, made her home for over 18 years. She spent the years studying the life of Africa’s gorillas and their habitual ways and becoming a force against the poachers seeking out gorillas for meat and trade. She left a legacy behind and began the process of conserving our Gorillas. 

The Volcanoes National park is a part of the Virunga Conservation area. The Virunga Conservation area traverses over 3 countries, (Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda), covers 2 national parks (Virunga NP in DRC, Volcanoes NP in Rwanda and Mgahinga in Uganda) and houses eight volcanoes (5 of which sit in Rwanda) and forms the borders – these are Mount Karismibi, Mount Sabinyo, Mount Muhabura, Mount Bisoke and Mount Gahinga).  Mount Nyiragongo and Mount Nyamulagira, which sit in DRC, are the only active volcanoes. This incredible formation is all part of the Albertine Rift.

This is the terrain; the endangered gorillas call home. The eco-system and fertile volcanic soil is what makes the region so attractive for the gorillas. The eco-system is divided into 4 vegetation zones and also provides habitat for the golden monkeys, as well as many bird species.

Thanks, so all conservation efforts and rules, gorillas have increased in numbers and continue to contribute hugely to the economy of Rwanda which in turn finances the anti-poaching team and creates jobs for the locals, which minimises the need for poaching and black-market gorilla sales.

Further to gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes National Park, hiking tours are a must.  There is no better way to appreciate the parks rich flora and fauna.

Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is often described as “life changing” and with good reason. With only an estimated 880 Gorillas left in the world, to see these gentle creatures in their natural habitat is a truly unique moment.

Gorillas make their homes in and amongst the bamboo-covered slopes of the Virunga Mountains in the Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda. Trek to see them and you’ll be introduced by your expert trackers and guides to one of the fully-habituated families of mountain gorillas and you can stay with them for an awe-inspiring hour, often crouching just a few feet away, whilst the gorillas go about their daily lives.

Hikes in the mountains can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours + depending on the family allocated to your group and their location. The journey back can take just as long, but you are often carried along by the euphoria you feel at seeing the gorillas!

Expert guides give a pre-trek briefing on specific protocols and rules for visiting the gorillas that live within an altitude of 2500 and 4000m. Porters are available to help carry backpacks and cameras, as well as helping you with your footing along your hike which can be hard work, but well worth it.

If you are ready for a “life changing” experience and an adventure of a lifetime, contact us so we can make your dream come true.

Our preferred guide for Gorilla Trekking is Nelis Wolmarans, his pictures captures the profoundly amazing adventure.

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