I’ve learnt through prior experience to never read one of Darrel Bristow-Bovey’s Getaway columns in public spaces. Either I burst out laughing or end up wiping away tears; both earn sidelong glances from those nearby. Hence my apprehension when I learned I was heading off on a real-life story with this brilliant writer, to find gorillas in Rwanda.
Gorilla tracking isn’t something I thought I’d be doing anytime soon, although I’d heard enough about it to know I wanted to do it at some point. A few years ago, my intrepid aunt and tough-as-nails grandmother hiked for hours in the heated forest, sweating and popping painkillers. ‘I didn’t think I’d make it’, my gran always said. ‘But if I stopped, the group would stop and no-one would get to see them’. Her reward for pushing on through was a set of glowing experiences they still talk about today.
The Rwandan Development Board extended invites to cover the annual Kwita Izina (‘gorilla naming’) ceremony this year, and Getaway was on the invite list. Darrel bagged the story and I was sent, along with a small mountain of equipment, to join him.
And? It was amazing. But I don’t want to give too much away. You’ll have to read about it in Darrel’s equal parts funny and poignant story, in the December copy of Getaway magazine. It’s a gorilla tracking story the likes of which you’ve never read before.
It doesn’t matter if we don’t find them, I told myself. It’s the quest that matters: to be out here walking the Mountains of the Moon, halfway between the crater lake and Dian Fossey’s gravesite. You don’t have to see the gorillas to feel them: it’s enough just to be here, just to look for them. And then Emmanuel started making a low series of keening grunts and moans. For a moment I thought something was wrong, but then I followed his eyes. – Darrel Bristow-Bovey
Also read: Wide angle of trust by Darrel Bristow-Bovey