Monday, September 30, 2013

Sunset over a drowned forrest

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As dusk approaches over Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe, fishermen take to the water.

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Lake Kariba's breathtakingly ethereal drowned forest as sunset approaches.

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Wow, wow, just wow.  Africa, you've pulled out the stops with this sunset.

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The sun's reflection through the submerged forest.

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Lake Kariba is the world's largest artificial lake; when the Zambezi River was dammed, it flooded the forests in its path.

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And it resulted in these amazing petrified forests.

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Lake Kariba forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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Oh, Zimbabwe, be still my heart, you wowed me on this one.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Take My Breath Away: Baby Mountain Gorillas!!

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While trekking through Volcanoes National Park, we found these beautiful, beautiful animals.

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Why, hello, you handsome fellow!
Rwanda is home to the stunning Sabyinyo Family of mountain gorillas.

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The family had several juveniles that were just so adorable!
This little guy was about two years old.

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And let me tell you, they were out playing!  Trying to figure out swinging on the bamboo.

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Climbing up things, annoying the adults, wrestling. It was adorable.

Check out the guy above playing with the baby who was only a few months old:
(That whole bamboo swinging thing? Definitely not gotten down yet!)

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Basking in the morning sun.

Here's another short clip, it makes me laugh because his somersault? All it makes me think of is an Ewok!

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I was absolutely amazed to see how stunningly orange the gorillas' eyes were.
These photos don't remotely do the color justice.

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A few months old---just too adorable!

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If given the chance to go mountain gorilla trekking, go, go, GO.
It is an absolutely amazing, almost spiritual experience.
I want to go again.  More than once again.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mountain Gorilla Trekking: the Sabyinyo Family

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After trekking into Volcanoes National Park, we came across the Sabyinyo Family of mountain gorillas.
How beautiful is this gorilla?! Those eyes are bright orange.

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I was amazed and just blown away by how human-like their expressions were.
I mean, seriously, how many men have many this look of sighing contentment during a nap?!

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Rwanda's Sabyinyo Family has the world's largest Silverback. This isn't him. This is the smaller Silverback, how insane is that? He was ginormous.
Think hundreds of pounds in weight (!!!!!)

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Here's insight into their size: our guide moving out of the way of one of the smaller mamas.  They are relatively peaceful, but if they want to display dominance, give them some serious respect.  A simply touch to your shoulder is enough to send you flying in the opposite direction.

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First thought when I saw this guy: grumpy old man. Hehe.

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A peaceful nap.  This experience was amazing, almost spiritual, absolutely indescribable.

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The hour you spend with the family flies by and you wonder where it's gone and how you were so enthralled and captivated for so long.

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The Sabyinyo Family was named after this volcano.  Sabyinyo means 'old man's teeth.'
The group has 16 gorillas---several females, juveniles, and children.

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I've seen my dad sleep with this same expression. So amazing. So creepy.

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A close up of the silverback's hair.

For more information on Volcanoes National Park.

For more information on mountain gorilla trekking.
(go, go, GO if you get the chance. I want to go back.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Volcanoes National Park!!!

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While on a visit to Rwanda, I saw my first volcano!
Why, hello Sabyinyo Volcano.

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A woman works the fields just near the volcanoes.

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The park is home to five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains.

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We began hiking up the mountains and wow, just wow. Bamboo forests like I've never seen before.

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I had no idea that bamboo forests make a creaking sound--almost like an old door opening---
when the wind blows through them.  It's very eerie and beautiful.

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Why were we hiking?  Why we were mountain gorilla trekking of course!
Here's where we stopped while the guides hacked a path through the forest to where our family of gorillas were resting.

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Some of the guides.

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My first view of the famed mountain gorillas.

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Here's a teaser of the next post: isn't he just adorable?!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Respite at Lake Kivu

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After a hauntingly sad day near Kigali, visiting memorials to the Rwandan genocide, I found myself at Lake Kivu.
I felt as if I had visited to different planets in the same day. Isn't she just beautiful?

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Lake Kivu forms the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, just at the town of Goma.
Goma sadly is so often in the news for all the rebel fighting with M23.

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Lake Kivu is one of Africa's Great Lakes and was absolutely beautiful.

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Although it felt a bit surreal, to bask in the warmth of the sun, listening to the waves, and knowing I could hop, skip, and a jump and I'd be in Goma.
We passed a huge contingent of UN peacekeepers heading into Goma.  It was a quick reminder not all in the Great Lakes region is calm.

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The lake near the town of Gisenyi.

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Scenes of the Rwandan county side. Not so bad from a moving vehicle, eh?

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An apostolic church.

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Nearing Volcanoes National Park.

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My first glimpse of the Rwandan volcanoes!

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As part of the healing process since the genocide, Rwandan women, usually in community groups,
have been making peace baskets, seen on the lady on the left's head, to bring gifts and signs of respect
to others when they visit.  They have become popular with visitors for the healing they symbolize and
the income they generate for villages.

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A sneak peak of the next post!  Volcanoes here we come!!

For more information on the fighting in the Congo and about Goma.
For more information on Lake Kivu.

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