August is holiday month for many; the gorillas also find time and energy to wander through their kingdom looking always for the sweetest shoots of bamboo and thistle. Sometimes this takes them further up the hills, through the beautiful Hypericum forests to the equally lovely and more open sub alpine zone. Here the gnarled and twisted trunks of the forest Hagenia make way for the Giant Lobelia and Senecio that are so typical of the higher altitudes.
Gorillas enjoying thistles, photo credit Alisa Bowen
But with these longer hikes come sparkling days and fabulous views and panoramas of the volcanoes and the surrounding farmland like a patchwork of ripening wheat and green meadows far below.
Farmland and spectacular views, photo credit James Townsend
The Gorillas continue to delight our guests and every day brings stories from all our families. New babies, tumbling adolescents, mothers, uncles and aunts all in awe and respect of the dominant and autocratic Silverbacks! Treks have been slightly longer with the dryer weather and the mud has turned to dust! The exhilaration of seeing and having the privilege of spending time with the gorillas is unaltered. Photos, stories and experiences are shared by all and the chatter round the fire in the evening is a gentle take on the best of David Attenborough. His description of his time with the gorillas was ‘One of the most exciting encounters of my life’. I think most of our guests would agree!
Gorilla baby, photo credit Oliver Nicklin
The dry weather that typifies this lovely time of year had dried out the roots of several of the larger trees that have grown up around the lodge and with the stronger winds some of these were threatening to fall on the cottages so we have had to remove some of the non-indigenous Gum which we will be replacing with more natural forest trees, but this has reopened the views which are so much part of the delights of the Lodge.
Views at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, photo credit Alisa Bowen
Sacola, the body elected by all the members of the community that ‘own’ the lodge have been busy too with the finalisation of a major water distribution pipeline that brings fresh mountain water to 6000 more of the local inhabitants. The annual meeting was attended by 1000 members to discuss the achievements made possible by another successful year’s operation of the lodge which has raised funds to complete a myriad of new projects which further the wellbeing of the local families and strengthen the ties between conservation and the human population.
By Philip Mason, manager at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge