If you are planning to travel to Africa for a gorilla tour for the first time or even as a repeat visitor, there are a number of items you need to consider a must to pack. Mountain gorilla tracking is a rare, strenuous, breathtaking experience and yet rewards travel endeavors with magical encounters. With only 1004 mountain gorillas that still thrive on earth today, you can only strike your imaginations with these large apes while on safari in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The routine treks are normally conducted in Mgahinga National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in southwestern Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda and Virunga National Park in eastern DRC. While packing for this life changing adventure make sure that you start with essentials first and the following items shouldn’t miss in your packing list;
FOR THE GORILLA TRACK
- It often rains heavily, even in the dry season, so a light raincoat will be
- Sturdy walking boots with good ankle support and grip are also
- A light shoulder bag or small rucksack is useful to carry your packed lunch, water bottles, raincoat, camera and other essentials. Local porters are also
- Strong gloves are of enormous help, as you will be hauling yourself uphill by crabbing the bushes, and often sliding downhill on the seat of your
- During the track, wearing a pair of walking trousers or gaiters will prevent cuts and
- Carry a water-proof plastic bag to wrap your camera and film or memory cards
- Flash photography is strictly prohibited as this may upset the make sure you bring ample supplies of high-speed film (400 ASA minimum or 800 ASA recommended ) or memory cards to counter this. Also make sure are completely familiar with the workings of your camera before you observe the gorillas.
FOR THE GORILLA CAMP
- Evening dress is ‘smart casual’ there is no formal wear
- We advise guests to dress in a way they feel most comfortable.
- The altitude at Bwindi is just over a mile
- Evenings can get chilly, so it is advisable to carry. For the day time, light clothes usually suffice .
- We offer a complimentary overnight laundry service in sanctuary gorilla forest
Essentials for the Gorilla Trek
Rain jacket or poncho
Gorilla trekking is conducted mainly within the tropical rain forest and it can rain at any time of day. Due to this, visitors are encouraged to come with a rain jacket or poncho to protect them from rain water while tracking gorillas.
Long sleeved shirts/t-shirt/sweater
Treks in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC begins early in the morning and can be cold. And this requires you to have a long sleeved shirt or T-shirt/sweater. Besides, long sleeved shirts can also help safeguard your hands from the falling tree branches or itching plants, thorns, stinging insects and many more. However, you can have short sleeved shirt for relaxation during warm day especially at your safari lodge.
Long pants or trousers and socks
While tracking gorillas, there are higher chances that you encounter thick vines, scratchy brush and long pants are the best to protect you from injuring your legs. Before setting off, the guide will advise you to tack in your trousers or pants into socks and then proceed to look out for your habituated gorilla family.
Waterproof hiking boots
Unlike game drives in savanna grassland areas, mountain gorilla trekking is a strenuous adventure and mainly involves hiking through the thick forest and steep slopes to look out for a gorilla family. It is a challenging experience and depending on the season, you can even encounter muddy areas especially when it rains. You therefore need good hiking boots that light weight and waterproof to help you hike comfortably.
While in the jungles, anything can happen and higher chances are you will need to have support. In order to avoid grabbing itching plants, harmful plants or thorns, gardening gloves are the best for you to have in your hands.
Camera and extra batteries
Imagine the long day hike through the jungles and steep slopes and then you bump into a group you were allocated. It is a moment everyone wants to make the best use of it especially with these Great Apes and one way for you to have a memory with these rare creatures in the wild is through photography. To have the best pictures of these primates, you need a good camera but with no flashlight. If your camera has a flashlight, you are advised to turn it off when taking photos of these unique creatures. Besides, you need additional batteries to use in case the original battery runs short of power.
Toiletries and medicine
A safari to see mountain gorillas means you will be in a new destination and higher chances are that you will encounter biting insects in the wild. One way to keep them away is for you to have insect repellent and for this case, you need DEET.
A new destination usually comes with its own challenges especially for new comers and one to be on a safer side is for you to be well prepared. Malaria pills should be a must in your packing list and they should be prescribed by your doctor.
In order for you to be part of gorilla trekking, you must have a permit and you can obtain one at $600 in Uganda, $1500 in Rwanda and $400 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At the park headquarters, you will be required to present your permit and after, you join the rest of visitors in an early morning briefing on dos and don’ts for gorilla trekking.
Bottled water and snacks
The fact that gorilla trekking is a strenuous adventure, you need to be well-prepared to hike through the thick tropical rainforest to look out for your gorilla family. To have a complete hike, you must have drinking water and some energy giving snacks.
The other items that shouldn’t miss out in your packing list include local currency, hat, walking stick, first aid kit, waterproof day pack, sun glasses, toilet paper, binoculars, password, visa a mention but a few.