“For people who like to travel, it’s like putting a child in a candy shop” is how Judy Miller describes she and Randy Borger’s 15 years owning and managing ExpediaCruiseShipCentres in Nanaimo. Now, having travelled to almost 100 countries (many for “product research”), they say that their favourite trip was to see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda.
The seed was sown on a train trip through southern Africa in 2003 when a fellow traveller from California described the gorillas as a “once in a lifetime experience”. He told Judy and Randy that the hiking was hard, with high elevations through dense brush (and stinging nettles). They took his warning to heart: ‘go before you get too old!‘
The second largest species of primate, the male mountain gorilla (about double the size of the female) has a mean weight of 195 kg and standing height of 150 cm. They are known for their docile and shy nature – something that initially enamoured American zoologist, Dian Fossey to them. She livedamongst them in Uganda for almost 20 years; later writing the acclaimed book “Gorillas in the Mist”.
Lovers of both wildlife and adventures, Judy and Randywere hooked on the idea of seeing these gentle giants in the wild. But it took 3 years before they were able to return to Africa and add a side trip to Rwanda to the beginning of another scheduled trip.
Randy and Judy treated members to incredible videos taken during their encounters with the gorillas as well as some interesting background on the country; its history, challenges, and opportunities. One was left with a positive feeling about the impact that visitors have on the well being of these magnificent creatures. Rwanda seems to be a model for sustainable tourism practices.