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Altitude & Acclimatization

When it comes to gorilla trekking, every visitor has his or her own view on what this adventure is all about. The trek to view a group of mountain gorillas in the wild indeed comes with a number of variables one of which is the altitude. The altitude sickness when it comes to gorilla adventures in Uganda, Rwanda or DR Congo usually takes place above 2500 meters and to other visitors, higher chances are that they get affected even at a lower elevation. Mountain gorillas live mainly on high altitude of between 2200 to 3000 meters which is in most cases can be challenging for others to hike through while in search of gorilla family. This demands some adequate training prior the actual trek as a way for you to get acclimatized to strenuous steep slopes in the gorilla habitat.

Gorilla trekking occurs in dense rain forest, steep slopes and all these are energy demanding. This wonderful primate adventure takes 2 different phases with the first one mainly taking you through a simple hike from the car park to the jungles and national park boundary which is about half or an hour’s hike depending on your hiking speed and the location of gorilla family. The other phase takes you to the jungles itself to look out for a group of these massive creatures as they blend themselves with greener vegetation and you are accompanied by a well-trained and professional park ranger guide.  Normally, it is easier for one to tell what the first phase of the trek is as it takes you through the gentle landscape and not that energy demanding depending on the group you are tracking and if it is the Susa A family, you may need longer hours to hike through as its altitude is energy demanding and so it is with Nkuringo group of Bwindi National Park that offers challenging treks.

The 2nd phase is usually more challenging and cannot easily be predicted the fact that it depends on the exact area where the gorillas are located in the course of the day and the steepness of the area. The other factors that determine the toughness of the area include the thickness of the vegetation cover where you have to bend, crawl via the jungles in search of gorillas. In this phase, you will take about 2 to 8 hours less or more depending on your hiking speed and the above factors.

Besides, there is need also to consider other factors like age and level of physical fitness. If you are to track the Susa group, you have to be moderately fit and at least 40 years. Hiking through this group is more challenging and demands more energy and on the other hand, Sabyinyo family is usually straightforward to get to as well as others like Hirwa, Kwitonda and Agashya. The other that may need a bit of energy is Amahoro and Umubano.

Most importantly, you can embark on training and make the best use of your compound and do some exercise before the actual trek. By so doing, you get used to high altitude and by the time you get on trek, it will be like a walkover. Hikes during the wet or rainy season can be challenging the fact that it takes you through steep slopes, muddy and slippery areas that all require you to be physically fit. There is no need to underestimate the tiring impact that accrues from altitude the fact that treks occur between 2500 and 3000 meters. However, there are walking sticks that you are required to have while on a trek and you can obtain one at the park headquarters. Besides, you need enough energy giving snacks and bottled water to keep boosting energy so that you make a complete hike. In Bwindi National Park for instance the altitude ranges between 1160 and 2607 meters and it is characterized by dense rainforest which all require you to have some physical wellness to be able to make a complete hike while in search of these magnificent creatures.

In conclusion, when you think of gorilla trekking in Africa, expect to face some challenge the fact that this experience takes you through the thick rainforest and high altitude of about 2500 to 3000 meters. To be on a safer side, you need to be well-prepared and do some exercise before the actual trek and you will have the best of this adventure.