Honeymooning with gorillas

An excerpt from Interview with Josh Kanuck

Honeymooners, Josh Kanuck and Amanda Sheplee, missed Africa the moment they returned home in 2017 to New York City, and started thinking about how quickly they could return.
Having lived in New York City for the last seventeen years, Josh and Amanda tied the knot at the Bronx Zoo, and instead of jet-setting immediately off on a honeymoon, they waited until they could have the honeymoon, they both dreamed of – an African safari, including a visit to Rwanda to marvel at the magnificent mountain gorillas.
When Josh stepped foot on African soil, his first impression was nothing like what he had expected. He puts this down to some of the generalizations people make about Africa.

“You have to keep in mind that Africa is a continent, not a country. It is huge, and each place we visited was so different from the next.”

While opting to travel alone, they never felt alone. Linda Friedman from Custom Safaris arranged their travel, and Josh said it made all the difference. Along with meeting other honeymooning couples, they had guides and drivers the entire time, enhancing their experience by having the experience and knowledge of a local person as they traveled around.

“Having guides and drivers with boots on the ground to assist with the logistics from going through customs to getting from point A to point B, really made the experience go smoothly.”

The people they met in Rwanda and Kenya, including their drivers and guides, were incredible, and are the reason their trip is so memorable. Rwanda is one of the greenest countries they had ever been to, and it is one of the safest countries in Africa; a fact that Rwandans are very proud of. Rwanda is a far different country now from its history of genocide, but that didn’t stop Josh’s family and friends from raising an eyebrow.

“When you tell people, you are going to see gorillas in the wild, people are always nervous for you. I think some people have a ferocious gorilla image in their head, but they aren’t violent at all.”

Josh admitted that he thought he would be nervous around them, but as soon as he stepped foot in the mountains, all worries vanished. Gorillas move during the day, and the troupe they were following kept moving higher up the mountain. He felt like they would never catch up, but after nearly four hours of hiking through prickly nettles, their guide signaled them to be silent. The gorillas had stopped and were now a mere twenty-feet away.

“Our hearts jumped. It was an amazing feeling. It was like no other experience I have ever had.”

Observing these magnificent animals in the wild left a profound impression on Josh and Amanda.

“They walked around us, going about their business. They are so calm and gentle and are mostly interested in eating and sleeping. The babies were just as curious of us.”

Will they return? Absolutely, and did earlier this year, to Morocco.

“Everyone should travel to Africa to get out of our comfort zone to connect and witness nature and wildlife in a way that you will have never experienced before.”

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