June 9th, 2008
03:37 PM ET

Anderson's View: Gnawing on Ambien

View photos from Rwanda
View photos from Rwanda

Anderson Cooper

I'm not exactly sure what time it is. I'm still kind of jet lagged and two days of gnawing on ambien to sleep hasn't really helped me adjust to the time change.

We had a really cool day today, hiking to see a group of mountain gorillas in Rwanda that have never been visited by tourists. About half of Rwanda's endangered mountain gorillas are visited each day by tourists who pay as much as $500 per person to sit with the gorillas for one hour. It's an amazing experience, one I've done about seven or eight times over the last twenty years or so.

The other half of the gorillas are studied by scientists, and are not habituated to tourists. Today we visited the "Pablo group" named after the male silver back who used to control the group of about 40 or so gorillas. Pablo, however, is no longer the dominant male silver back. He has been replaced, though he is still allowed to be part of this group.

We hiked for about three hours before finding the gorillas, and though we were all pretty exhausted by the time we got there, it was awesome to be able to get so close to a group of gorillas usually only visited by scientists.

Tomorrow we leave Rwanda and head to a very remote part of Cameroon to go out with researchers who study viruses in the forest. It's all part of Planet in Peril: Battle Lines.

I've shot a little video blog that we will try to feed in shortly, and a photographer from Getty Images, Jeff Hutchens is with us, and we will try to post some of the pictures he has been taking each day. View photos from Rwanda

I would blog more, but I think the Ambien is kicking in, and I have to be up before dawn to catch a flight. See you on 360° tonight.

Editor's note: You can read about this and other Planet in Peril stories here.

Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Planet in Peril
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Vilmarie

    Hi Andy,

    I'm sorry to have missed your show over the last couple of days. I've been working hard at a new job 10-12 hours learning new things and focusing. I'm so jealous that you took this trip. I need a real vacation over the last 3 years. My favorite Dispatches from Rwanda pictures are 8 because you are smiling, in 9 you break my heart into pieces, you look so sad and I wish I were there with you to bring a smile, in 11 you look like you are daydreaming. Thanks for sharing these pictures and more windows into you.

    I send you all my love and kindness,

    June 10, 2008 at 8:07 am |
  2. Sarah, Canterbury - UK

    How fantastic to get the opportunity to see these amazing creatures up close.

    Look forward to seeing the PIP coverage again.

    June 10, 2008 at 5:26 am |
  3. Julie San Diego, CA

    You look happy out with the primates. Good riddance to the politics for awhile.

    Much more pleasant dealing with these kinds of monkeys, eh?

    Great photography Jeff. Gotta love shooting in fog.

    OK guys and gals, in defense of our little Ambien Addict – listen up: Fact: blue and green-eyed people suffer horribly from jet lag because they have little (green eyes) or no (blue eyes) melanin (brown pigment) in their eyes to reset their body clocks.

    Crossing 8 or more time zones is no big deal for a brown-eyed girl like me. The same flight, sans Ambien, puts my green-eyed husband out of commission for at least two days.

    It's got to be a killer if you've got blue eyes.

    Enjoy Africa. You've earned a break from the monkeys back home. 🙂

    June 10, 2008 at 2:13 am |
  4. Janet

    Anderson – I am in Kenya now and head to Rwanda end of June to track gorillas. This will be my first time. Everything I've read about tracking sounds so amazing and beautiful (and a bit of an exhausting trek, too!) – I'm looking forward to my own experience with the gorillas. Unfortunately, where I am in Kenya I don't have access to a TV so I can't watch the show this summer. I'm glad you've returned Africa – there is so much to tell about from this continent.

    June 10, 2008 at 1:50 am |
  5. jen rose

    Hey Anderson,

    I like the mountain gorillas, what kind of viruses are you talking about? It worries me about the viruses. I know it's morning time in Rwanda, I bet you didn't sleep none last night.

    BTW, I like the photos that you guys took in Rwanda, thanks for sharing the photos with us.

    You guys take care of yourself's.

    June 10, 2008 at 12:34 am |
  6. Kathy, Andover

    Hey Anderson, What's Up with all the photos of YOU?! I thought I was going to see photos of gorillas, jeez! Are you sharing your Ambien with the photographer?

    June 10, 2008 at 12:26 am |
  7. winar98

    my best regards for the gorillas.Have a nice trip.

    June 9, 2008 at 11:51 pm |
  8. lpfoong, Malaysia

    Gnawing on Ambien? I only know one other person who does that with pills. Doesn't it taste bitter and horrible? The things you have to go through to get us remarkable stories...and the rest of the crew as well.
    So thank you.
    You looked alright the little that we saw from your sneak peak and don't ask Neil Hallsworth to get you a drink after duties because it's not going to be water.
    Take care.

    June 9, 2008 at 11:33 pm |
  9. Julliet

    Way to go Anderson, you never cease to amaze us. It is so refreshing to know that someone is thinking of helping these animals whose lives are constantly in danger. Keep it up and kudos to the crew travelling with you. stay safe.

    June 9, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  10. Michelle in CA

    We are all connected...creatures and eco-systems. Thank you for bringing images and realities about planetary crises to the American public. Most Americans are so disconnected from the earth we do not feel the planet dying around us. Hopefully programs like yours will encourage more people to step up and be good stewards of the precious gift of this world and the creatures in it. How often in our myopic existance do we take such a great gift for granted? And you will have gotten to see all these beautiful places with your own eyes!

    June 9, 2008 at 11:16 pm |
  11. Michele, Douglaston NY

    Hi Anderson..it's me, again....

    I just saw that beautiful foggy landscape photos. It was absolutely awesome!!! Tell Jeff Hutchins, he has an amazed gift to take the best photo shots.

    June 9, 2008 at 11:03 pm |
  12. deborah, OH

    Glad that you are travelling again! Jeff's pics are great! And your post really puts a person there with you & the crew. Thank you for that–even if you are only half awake.

    Be careful with the Ambien–I don't get along well with it myself.

    Take care, get some sleep, & see you soon. Be very safe-all of you!

    June 9, 2008 at 10:51 pm |
  13. Bren from Atlanta

    God bless your heart. I will never forget the news of July 2007 when the 4 silverback gorillas were killed in the Congo National Park. It is through international attention that maybe, just maybe we can bring attention to this issue and prevent further assassination of these remaining treasures so our world will not perish. It is such a delicate balance. Be safe and watch out for those nasty Mai Mai insurgents my friends.

    June 9, 2008 at 10:33 pm |
  14. Sharon from Indy

    The black & white photography is incredible especially the foggy landscapes. Jeff Hutchins is an amazing photojournalist.

    Be careful with the Ambien. Remember, it has been reported to induce sleep walking.

    June 9, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  15. Christine

    Jeff those photos of Rwanda are amazing. Especially the 5th and 7th in the series.

    Thanks for the behind the scenes footage and blogging. Looking forward to the next PIP.

    June 9, 2008 at 10:19 pm |
  16. Michele, Douglaston NY

    I remembered watching at 60 Minutes about Mountain Gorillas. It was terribly tragic. I hope this time, the gorillas are not being threatened. I am looking forward to see your program tonight.

    About Ambien or medicines, those do not help at all. Whenever I travelled, I never took anything that would effect me. so, let your body takes care itself. Take Jacqueline's advice from above blog (8:45 pm ET).

    Take care

    June 9, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  17. Renee

    What made Pablo get the boot as the leader? Was there another silver back at say 425 pounds or did the ladies just have enough of him?

    June 9, 2008 at 9:59 pm |
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