If you’re planning on trekking with gorillas, and you’re in Rwanda, then may I recommend that you visit the so-called Gorilla Doctors, at Musanze, about a half an hour’s drive from Volcanoes National Park.
Actually, more than recommend: insist. Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, or more recently known as Gorilla Doctors since their partnership with UC Davis, was originally set up in 1986 as the Volcano Veterinary Project, the need for a hands-on scientifically-based operation dedicated to routinely monitoring the mountain gorilla recommended by Diane Fossey, whose work, life and death you will probably know from Gorillas of the Mist.
While it operates in the field not just in Rwanda, but also in Uganda, just outside Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and at the DRC’s Virunga National Park headquarters, as well as running labs and offices in the likes of Kampala, Kigali and Goma, it’s the Musanze outfit I’d like to especially highlight, it being an extraordinarily slick, well-run set up.
It’s here that we learn, from the world’s leading experts, why the mountain gorilla remains high on the list of endangered species. The deep knowledge, the in-field hands on experience, lends the would-be trekker untold insight into why such extraordinary lengths are taken in terms of ensuring that our contact with the gorilla harms neither animal nor habitat.
This is gold for when eventually you do get to spend some time with the gorillas. Understanding the whys and wherefores of what you’re doing turns what can sometimes amount to a 2D experience, however enlightening that may be, into a 3D knowledge-fest. I can’t recommend it enough, and make a point of making it available to everyone going to Rwanda. If you get the chance, do go – and before you trek.