Tips for Gorilla Trekking - how to have the best gorilla trek
- Purchase your gorilla trekking permits as far in advance as possible for priority assignment to a choice group and to be sure you obtain a permit at all.
- You will be with a group and guide. Also, consider hiring a local person as a porter assistant, even if you are very fit. This adds a great cultural dimension to the experience and is not really expensive.
- If you have the choice, visit the largest group available to you to maximize the photo opportunities and the different behaviors you will see.
- Prepare for the possibility of rain at any time of year.
- Wear long sleeves and slacks and bring gloves to protect against thistles nettles and thorns.
- Wear durable hiking shoes, you will be off-trail in rough terrain.
- Expect you might have a long hike. Be in the best physical shape you can be.
- Understand your camera well, Cameras with built-in video are very good. The telephoto ability helps.
- Consider traveling with a companion or friend with whom you will share the lifelong memory of the encounter.
- Listen to the advice of your guide. Trust that he or she really wants you to get great photos and have the best possible experience.
It’s important to know what you’re getting into before setting out on a gorilla trek. The hike through the forest is challenging and tough-going (your guides will often have to machete a path through the ferns that clog the undergrowth), but it’s within reach for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. You will get muddy though. And sweaty. Beneath the forest canopy, the humidity is very high, and it’s a good idea to bring a canteen of freshwater to hydrate as you go.
If you are particularly concerned about the terrain, consider hiring a local porter. The porters will carry your bag, and help to you navigate some of the steeper, or trickier sections of the trek. In fact, hiring a porter on a gorilla trek is a common practice by travelers of all ages and abilities. Not only does it make the trek easier for you, but you’re also providing a valuable source of employment for locals. The minimum cost of hiring a porter on a gorilla trek is $20USD,
Eventually, after bush-bashing your way through the scrub, you’ll come across a gorilla family, peacefully playing in a forest clearing. Your trekking guides and rangers will have prepared you for what to expect. There’s no direct interaction with the gorillas (unless one moves past you), but you should get pretty close. You’ll have a good 45 minutes to an hour to just sit and observe these animals in their natural habitat. We promise it’s something you’ll never ever forget.
What to pack for your gorilla trek
Pack Enough Food. Pack enough food before going for Gorilla Tracking. Gorilla Tracking is a very tiresome activity that may last up to 8 hours implicating you will need refreshments and eats (probably snacks) during the activity. The sad thing is you won’t find any spots to buy eats or drinks in the forests. It is highly recommended that you have a good breakfast on the gorilla trekking morning.
Water – As you hike through the mountain forest, you kind of get dehydrated and you need lots of drinking water.
Boots – Essential. The terrain is rough and in the forest, it is easy to slide over. Shoes with good grip are highly recommended. Avoid the cheap sneakers as they can't match this do.
Gloves – During the trek you might be grabbing trees, branches and vines, and your hands can get a bit scratched and generally beaten up if you’re not careful. Pack a tough old pair of gardening gloves. They might look a bit lame, but you’ll be glad you brought them.
A light rain jacket – Bwindi and Virunga are both tropical rainforests, and there’s a good chance of rain almost year-round. Pack a lightweight poncho or rain jacket that you can roll up in your bag and bring out if necessary.
Long pants and shirts – It’s best not to expose too much skin during the jungle trek, and remember to tuck your trousers into your socks – you really don’t want safari ants crawling up there.
What Else To Do After Gorilla Trekking
Apart from the mountain gorilla trek, there are several other activities to do in Rwanda. You could do a hike to one of the volcanoes in the park or visit Lake Kivu which is two hours away by road, enjoy a cultural village visit in Musanze, or continue to Nyungwe National Park for chimpanzee tracking and other primates.