What to Pack for Gorilla Trekking?
What to pack for gorilla trekking? On a trip through Uganda or Rwanda, you can experience all four seasons. It will also be necessary to take some wet weather gear as it does rain in the mountainous areas of Uganda and Rwanda on a regular basis. We suggest lightweight rain gear for the hike to view the gorillas.
During your safari, depending on the style of trip chosen, dress code may vary slightly. Women are advised to cover knees and shoulders when in a rural village or market. None of the lodges/hotels insist on any formal type of dress – ties, jackets etc – so the norm would be casual or smart casual depending upon the level. In towns and cities, and at certain of the more up-market lodges and hotels then long pants and shirt / golf shirt would be more appropriate (especially in the evenings), or ladies may wear a skirt of course!
Bush gear i.e. hard wearing clothes, no bright colors, e.g. greens, khaki and similar neutral clothes are recommended. In the day time on safari, generally shorts or lightweight trousers, t-shirts, hat, sun block etc are recommended as it is generally fairly warm (25-35 degrees C average). Avoid wearing blue colors in areas where you may find tsetse flies, as they are often attracted to these colors, (this would be in small parts of Murchison Falls for example, check with your guide).
We suggest you take something warm eg tracksuit, fleece or sweater for the mountainous areas i.e. Bwindi or Virungas. It is at a higher altitude and will therefore be cooler in the evenings. – a rain jacket/anorak is also suggested as it rains, regularly in the in the rain forest areas, even in the drier months. Long trousers and long sleeved shirts are also recommended for general evening use to assist in the prevention of mosquito bites and also as it’s generally cooler than during the day.
While gorilla and chimp tracking you will need a comfortable, hard wearing, pair of walking shoes or boots. Conditions are generally very muddy/slippery. There are uphill sections which may be quite steep and strenuous. It is also advisable to wear a long sleeve cotton shirt and lightweight long trousers to protect yourself from the undergrowth, stinging nettles and biting ants. (Tracksuit pants often get caught on bushes, thorns, etc and jeans can get very heavy when wet). Gloves are also highly recommended – just cheap gardening gloves will do – this will prevent your hands being scratched when holding onto vegetation for support, through dense parts of the forest. Tuck your long pants into your socks/boots to avoid biting insects. Your clothes will in all likelihood get very muddy and may not recover to their original state – therefore take old clothing for the gorilla trekking.
Suggested Items to pack for a gorilla trek
- Insect Repellent
- Torch/Flashlight – and Spare Batteries
- Wet Wipes
- Water Bottle
- Camera, lenses etc
- Comfortable walking /hiking boots & socks
- Gardening gloves for gorilla tracking
- Sandals/strops/walking shoes
- Hat & Sunscreen
- Rain Jacket
- Binoculars (game/bird watching)
Leave your jewelry behind, and if you wear a watch preferably use a hard-wearing type
Tracking Gorillas & Chimpanzees, Forest Walks
What to Pack for Gorilla Trekking. Gorilla tracking timings and conditions vary tremendously as the gorillas move continuously through the rain forest. It is good to be prepared and remember the weather can change with very little warning. The terrain is often steep and through areas where there are no marked paths.
It can be VERY strenuous – it may be just a couple of hours but it can also be for a full day of up to 8 hours or more of hiking in hot, high altitude conditions – please be prepared for this by being as fit as possible!
Chimpanzee tracking is generally not as difficult compared to gorilla tracking but still can be a hard hike and requires a good level of fitness – especially if you need to follow the chimps which can move swiftly through the forest.
You will be guided through the forest on your gorilla/chimp tracking by a Uganda Wildlife Authority guide whom you will meet at the departure point in the morning of your trek. Your guide can help you book a porter (or two!) so that you can track without having to carry the few essential items listed below in a day park which you should bring with you. The porters are from the local community and very used to the local conditions and can assist in pushing, pulling and supporting you during your trek to the gorillas. They are usually an additional fee, over and above your safari cost, and you should budget on approximately USD15 per porter per day as a fee with additional tipping being optional.
As the porters do not have tracking permits they will be stopped a short distance from the point you will be viewing the mountain Gorillas. Please remember to take whatever you may need from your bag to view the gorillas and rather leave valuables at the lodge/camp for security reasons.
You will be allowed up to one hour for viewing of the gorillas/chimps from when they are sighted by your group. This is to ensure that the wild animals are not over-exposed to human presence. Whilst in their presence you will also be required to keep minimum distances from them – generally between 5-7 meters and your guides will ensure this is enforced.
Packing list for a day pack for gorilla and chimp tracking
- Plenty of water – 1-2 liters per person
- High energy snacks in addition to your packed lunch provided by the lodge / camp
- Spare film and batteries for videos and cameras
- Gloves (gardening type are good)
- Waterproof bag to protect photographic equipment
- A hat, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and Band aids might be useful
- A lightweight water proof jacket
- Walking sticks are made available at the Start of the trek for some of the steeper and more slippery tracks and may prove to be very handy.
Regulation and protocol
Tourists are permitted to spend no longer than an hour with the gorilla, and it is forbidden to eat or smoke in their presence. It is also forbidden to approach within less than 5m of the gorillas, a rule that is difficult to enforce with curious youngsters [and some adults] who often approach human visitors.
Gorillas are susceptible to many human diseases, and it has long been feared by researchers that one ill tourist might infect a gorilla, resulting in the possible death of the whole troop should they have no immunity to that disease. For this reason, you should not go gorilla tracking with a potentially airborne infection such as flu or a cold, and are asked to turn away from the gorillas should you need to sneeze in the presence.
To the best of our knowledge, no tourist has ever been seriously hurt by habituated gorillas. An adult gorilla is much stronger than a person and will act in accordance with its own social codes. Therefore, it is vital that you listen to your guide at all times regarding correct protocol in the presence of gorillas.
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