This is what it is like to witness mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, happily chewing on vegetation, lazing in the shade while their young tumble about.
To see the mountain gorillas of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, it may be necessary to trek for more than five miles, but other groups are more accessible and can be reached in less than an hour. I was assigned to see the 25-strong Agashya group, which would require a straightforward hike of about an hour and a half.
After a 20-minute drive and an hour’s walk in the forest, we were told the gorillas were nearby. I suddenly became aware of a complex, musty smell. As I was chiefly preoccupied with not falling over, I failed to notice the silverback until a guide grabbed me by the arm. The enormous creature was sitting just three or four yards away, contently chewing a stick of wild celery; he appeared to regard my somewhat undignified arrival with complete indifference.