Silverback Gorilla Encounter

Erik gets up close and personal with a 300+ lb. silverback mountain gorilla in this POV footage shot in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. The video doesn’t look as tense and thrilling as the actual experience is in real life, although playing it over in slow motion helps a little. (This video corresponds to travel dispatch, “Damn Dirty Apes,” from January 2012.)

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In Rwanda, Watching Gorillas In My Midst

Puddingstone Post, June 2014

An anecdote about gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. (Puddingstone Post, June 2014)

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Watching “Hotel Rwanda” in the Hotel Rwanda

Puddingstone Post, May 2014

An article about genocide memorial tourism in Rwanda, commemorating the atrocities of 1994 (Puddingstone Post, May 2014)

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Hardtail Rwanda

Gore-Tex presents Experience More, April 2015

Mountain biking down Rwanda’s western corridor brings adventure and cultural exchanges in a formerly war-torn African nation. (Gore-Tex presents Experience More, April 2015)

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‘Gorillas in the Mist’ Amidst Gorillas in the Mist

National Geographic Travel, May 2013

An article about gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda — with an affinity for puns. (National Geographic Intelligent Travel, May 2013)

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Scumbags in Transit

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip: Monkeying Around"
Posted December 31, 2011

DAY 1: “Trinidad?” asked the KLM agent reading my passport at JFK’s Terminal 4. She had a coffee complexion and her name tag read “Donna Marie M.”

“Yeah,” I replied. I’d heard this interest before; she was either Trinidadian or…

“Are you related to the boxer?”

“No,” I said, smirking. “I wish I was.”

“So you could get some of that money, huh?” She continued with the mildly flirtatious small talk as she checked me in for my three flights: JFK to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Kigali (Rwanda), which would refuel and continue to my final destination of Entebbe, the main airport about an hour out of Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

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Jungle to Jungle

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip: Monkeying Around"
Posted January 12, 2012

DAY 9 (PART 1): “We are lucky he is a small man,” said the Ugandan man sitting next to me on the Jaguar bus coach to Kigali, Rwanda. While the Jaguar bus company was branded as an “executive coach” with a ripped off logo of the luxury car manufacturer, it wasn’t more than a crowded Greyhound bus in the States. In fact, to pack more people in, they had squeezed another line of chairs in the aisle, making it rows of two seats on the left, and three on the right, with not much aisle space to walk down — although that was filled with baggage at times too. I was sitting in the aisle seat of the three-seater, with the guy next to me concerned about the size of person who’d get the window, but it seemed we’d be okay for the long run.

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The Football of Gahese

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip: Monkeying Around"
Posted January 13, 2012

DAY 9 (PART 2): Mountain gorillas (or “golillas” since Rwandans often pronounce R’s with L’s) live in the rainforest of the Virungas, which technically isn’t a mountain chain; it’s a series of single coned volcanoes near each other — and contained within the appropriately named Volcanoes National Park. The Kinigi Guesthouse, a B&B “village” of cabins and a dorm just 300 meters from the main entrance of the park, is where a handful of tourists show up each afternoon, spend the night in order to wake up early to see gorillas at 7am the next morning, and are out by around noon. I had arrived around one in the afternoon, feeling quite alone, since the previous cycle of guests had just finished — I was the first to arrive in the daily “reset.”

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Damn Dirty Apes

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip: Monkeying Around"
Posted January 16, 2012

DAY 10: “It’s a lot less scary viewing it like that,” Sarah told me as we played back the video I shot on my DSLR camera of the moment when Kirahuri, a big 300-pound silverback gorilla, advanced towards me when I was in his way. “That was a pretty tense moment.”

No matter how tense, pictures or video never seem to do a moment justice — but at least it was well worth the thrill during a long morning of gorilla trekking.

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Everything’s Better in Rwanda Until Someone Kicks You in the Balls

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip: Monkeying Around"
Posted January 16, 2012

DAY(S 10-)11: It’s seems rather odd that within the tiny landlocked African nation of Rwanda (which is only about the size of New Jersey), you could have a beach day, but it is in fact, possible to have one there on the shores of Lake Kivu. Situated on the west side of the country — forming a natural border with the DR Congo — Lake Kivu is big enough that from shore it looks as expansive as an ocean. And in the relaxed town of Gisenyi — where I based myself after gorilla trekking — the beaches and warm, year-round tropical climate is like a scene out of the Caribbean.

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From the trip blog: "The Global Trip: Monkeying Around"
Posted January 17, 2012

DAYS 11-13 (PART 1): “When you see the hills, you’ll see why you have a porter and nothing on your back,” said Tom of Rwandan Adventures, my guide for a two-day bike tour down the Congo Nile Trail (CNT), from Gisenyi to the trail’s mid-way point in Kabuye. Rwanda’s nickname is the “Land of A Thousand Hills,” and when cycling up my first big one (of 1,000), I knew exactly why Tom talked me into hiring a guy to carry my stuff — especially since my body’s sitting region was still sore from just having been kicked in the balls.

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It’s Not All Black and White Along Lake Kivu

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip: Monkeying Around"
Posted January 18, 2012

DAYS 11-13 (PART 2): “They’re not quite sure what to make of you,” my guide Tom had told me when were were visited by curious villagers upon arrival in Kinunu village. He had noticed during our bicycle tour on the Congo Nile Trail that in the children’s usual calls to mzungus (foreigners, specifically White ones), some would start shouting “Abazungu!” (the plural form) but switch to “Umuzungu!” (singular) when seeing me, a nationality-ambiguous-but-obviously-not-White Filipino-American — Tom was the only White guy in our trio.

“I’ve been mistaken for about thirty-four nationalities so far,” I told Tom.

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Run DRC?

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip: Monkeying Around"
Posted January 19, 2012

DAY(S 13-)14: It’s ironic that the relaxed, peaceful lake town of Gisenyi lies right on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo — not to be confused with the other country, the Republic of Congo (confusing, I know) — a nation constantly making headlines for civil unrest. In late 2011 (just a month before I’d left for this trip), national elections in DR Congo — and the unagreeable results thereof — stirred up tensions throughout the country. Concurrently, it was around that time that a UN official deemed it “the Rape Capital of the World.”

Regardless of that bad press, I had an inclination to go there, not for the rape but for the passport stamp, mostly because the border was so close; it was literally walking distance away (about 20 minutes on foot from my hotel).

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Remembering 1994

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip: Monkeying Around"
Posted January 20, 2012

DAY 15: Ah, 1994. Ace of Base, Snoop Dogg, The Lion King, The Cranberries, Pulp Fiction, and Forrest Gump. Most, if not all of you reading this travel blog were alive in 1994, and some of you may even remember what you were doing in the April of that year. I remember being in a painting class chatting up this girl, and she mentioned, “Have you heard about what’s going on in Rwanda?” At the time, I hadn’t; I was more concerned with whether or not I might score with her (turns out she had a boyfriend), and besides, back then, Africa was sooo far away. In 1994, the only thing I knew about Africa was that “Hakuna Matata” means “no worries.”

The reality was that in the tiny African nation of Rwanda, all hell had broken loose. Tensions between two formerly peace-keeping tribes — Hutus and Tutsis — boiled over into chaos on an unimaginable scale. On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying Juvenal Habyarimana, the then Hutu-favored Rwandan president, had been mysteriously shot down, triggering a premeditated massacre so relentless that the numbers of the subsequent death toll constituted it as a genocide. During a period of about a hundred days, extremist Hutus slaughtered about one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu people, and about another million were displaced as escaped refugees in neighboring countries. Meanwhile, the world — including the U.N. — underestimated Rwanda’s civil unrest, watched, and let it happen.

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Securing Peace with Hot Sauce

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip: Monkeying Around"
Posted January 22, 2012

DAY 16: “We have a problem,” said the KK Security guard with U.S. Embassy clearance displayed on the badge hanging from his neck. He called in for backup on his radio and awaited further instructions on how to handle me, a suspect with ambiguous motives, in front of the U.S. Peace Corps gates in Kigali.

Just my luck, I thought. I decided I’d just be honest and play dumb American tourist because I was in fact, a tourist, an American, and totally dumb for getting into the situation in the first place.

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Forget “Africa”

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip: Monkeying Around"
Posted January 22, 2012

DAYS 17-18: “Are you talking about Akabanga?” asked the man waiting in the queue for Business Class check-in at Kigali International Airport, next to where I was waiting for Economy. He noticed I was talking about a certain Rwandan hot sauce to Gearoid, a fellow former guest of the Hotel des Mille Collines that I had shared the complimentary airport taxi with. I was describing the size of the hot sauce’s small eye dropper bottle with my fingers.

“Yeah,” I answered the man in Business Class, smiling at our apparent shared appreciation of Akabanga. “You know it?”

“I have twelve [bottles],” he announced proudly.

I told him I had over two dozen myself, packed in my checked luggage bound for New York via Amsterdam.

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When he’s not making a living as an interactive/motion designer or playing with fast food, Erik R. Trinidad is a travel writer, blogger, video host and producer focusing on adventure and culinary content. His work has been featured on National Geographic Intelligent Travel,,, Saveur, Condé Nast Traveler, and Hyenas Laughed at Me and Now I Know Why, which also includes the work of Tim Cahill, Doug Lansky, Jennifer Leo and Rolf Potts. He has also referenced his travel experiences in his solo book, Fancy Fast Food: Ironic Recipes with No Bun Intended.

For over ten years, Erik has traveled to the seven continents of the world — from Timbuktu to Kalamazoo — with a curiosity for exotic foods and a thirst for adventure (and writing material).  In his travels, he has been mugged at knifepoint in Cape Town, extorted by corrupt Russian police on the Trans-Siberian Railway, stranded in tornadic storms in the American midwest, and air-lifted off the Everest Trail by a helicopter that was thankfully paid for by his travel insurance.  But it hasn’t been all fun; he has also donned a tuxedo amidst the penguins of Antarctica, paraded with Carnival-winning samba school Beija Flor in Rio, run for his life at Pamplona’s “Running of the Bulls,” cage-dived with great white sharks, gotten shot point-blank in the stomach in Colombia (while wearing a bulletproof jacket), and above all, encountered many people around the world, including some Peruvian musicians in Cuzco who learned and played “Y.M.C.A.” at his request. He loves the irony that, after everywhere he’s been, he has never been to Mexico.

Erik writes stories and news articles when he’s at his base camp in New York City, and continues his blog when he is on the road — provided he’s not occupied tracking down lost luggage.

Additional news/article clippings at

See Erik talk about travel in an American Express ad:

Read about Erik in this feature article from Filipinas magazine by National Geographic Traveler Associate Editor Amy Alipio.

The views and opinions written on The Global Trip blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official views and opinions of the any affiliated publications.
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