Hey, It’s me again – Misha, 30. I have shown you my orange day in Namibia not so long ago. Today I will show you my August, 19th, 2011 in the mysterious Central Africa, to be more precise – in Congo.
06:30. I get up! The day will be long. We’ve spent this night in Gorilla Park surrounded by the volcanoes.
It’s even hard to believe we are finally in Congo! It’s the fourth most dangerous country for tourists after Somali, Afghanistan and Iraq. This country used to be so rich and after the civil war it became one of the poorest in Africa. Five million people (!) died since 1998 to 2002. It’s the bloodiest war since WWII.
07:15. Off we go! Our goal is to find wild gorillas.
In general there are 800 mountain gorillas in the world today. They all live in Central Africa. Some families inhabit the park we are going to now. Six persons can visit them a day and spend with them one hour. Our company had just six. We got necessary instructions and gauze masks (not to infect the animals with something) and started off.
Gorillas do not stay in one place for long. Every day families find a new one.
We are in the very heart, or better say – lungs of Africa. The place is dump, has much vegetation and good soil. We see many fields with potatoes and corns. For local children our arrival becomes a real sensation!
Local girls know everything about the center of gravity.
Here begins the forest of Virunga.
The east of the country is fully controlled by rebels who develop tourism. They also extract minerals and illegally sell them to the world market at low prices (that’s the main reason of the war). The war seems to have subsided though. Cars of UN peacekeepers can be often seen.
10:00. We were going further for 1,5 hours more before we saw the traces of the animals.
10:30. We heard the male gorilla knocking in his chest. We are so close! Something big and black showed in some meters from us. They were playing in freestyle wrestling in the grass.
10:40. We start watching the friendly fight of two males. One of them finally sees us and invites to join. But the rebels drove the animal away.
10:45. It started to rain and the fighting couple left to hide in the high grass. We followed them and soon noticed the head of the family.
10:50. The rain turned into real tropical downpour. We hid under the big sprawling bamboo bush. Suddenly a mini King Kong appears out from the corner! I will never forget this moment! He passed me and sat three meters aside.
We managed to communicate with the gorillas for ten minutes more before the downpour. We got wet through. We hid all the shooting equipment in our rucksacks. Some animals were eating bamboo, others were playing. The leader was just waiting for the rain to stop and thinking about something.
When the rain stopped we could continue our communication.
11:30. Time flew but we didn’t want to leave. Not far from us a female was lying with her two-weeks baby.
11:40. We are going back. Climbing the volcano is ahead. We want to see a lava lake in its crater.
13:00. We are riding on a passing car.
14:00. We are at the foot of the volcano. Some lava pieces are still fresh.
15:00. We need some rest.
The height of Nyiragongo volcano is 3500 meters. It erupted for the last time in 2002 and considerably destroyed the city ot its foot – Goma.
It turned out it erupted in 2002 not from the crater but from the crack on the slope. Now hot steam is swirling from there.
16:00. We stopped at the crack to get warm.
17:30. The top is not so far.
17:50. The clouds cover the tops of the mountains.
18:00. The height is almost 3500 m already. Organisms need oxygen. We already have some problems with coordination. But we see the top and we don’t want to stop. Will we really see anything there? Is the lake still really full of lava?
18:30. The most impressive moment of my life! You don’t see something like this everyday or every month, or ever at all! My heart is beating. I am stunned by the picture I see.
18:20. We are lucky, if we came later the lake would be hidden in the cloud. Some people who climb this mountain do not see anything but that cloud.
19:00. This night is going to be red. It is already cold. We hid in our huts for a night, ate noodles and had hot drinks, got into sleeping bags trying to warm each other.
20:00. It is dark and cold. The height is almost 3500m. The lava lake is boiling nearby but we do not see it anymore, we only see the red glow all around. It was a wonderful wonderful day!!!