Oftentimes when intending gorilla trackers are planning to visit Uganda for their adventurous safaris, they get confused on what to wear or what gear to carry for an ultimate gorilla trekking experience. Imagine tracking through the dense jungles of Bwindi, hiking to areas of higher elevations and long distances, it means you have to be prepared for the adventure that you are about to undertake. Because gorilla trekking is not a picnic but an expedition into the thick jungles, wearing the right clothes/hiking gear will make you comfortable hence you will be able to meet and even exceed your expectations. Getting prepared means packing and dressing appropriately hence protecting you when you are hiking, but the mistake most trackers make is to dress inappropriately for example tracking in sandals, shorts, sleeveless tops for women, short sleeved shirts, T-shirts and flip flops among others. This doesn’t mean that you don’t pack some of the things like sandals, shorts, or your sleeveless tops, you can pack them for relaxation at the Safari Lodges, but for the case of gorilla trekking you don’t need to wear them.
On the day of tracking the critically endangered mountain gorillas, wear the following;
Long sleeved shirt not sleeveless tops or short sleeved shirts to protect your arms from the scratching grasses, tree branches, stinging nettles and safari ants. Imagine you are trekking then you are stung by ants or the stinging nettles, meeting face to face with the mountain gorillas will not remove the pain you will encounter hence ruin your gorilla trekking experience.
Long trousers preferably khaki zip up trousers and not shorts. This will also protect your legs from tree branches thronged with thorns, sharp grasses and stinging nettles. Jeans are not recommended because trekking involves hiking through dew-filled grasses, the jeans can become heavy hence hinder movement. So avoid jeans just for the sake of your comfort and easy movement.
Similarly, wear long socks. You will be required to tuck your trousers into the socks to prevent ants from crawling into your pants/trousers.
Strong rainproof hiking boots with enough ankle support are very necessary for providing grip, comfort and easy movement during hiking. Trackers are always advised against wearing sandals or flip flops. Imagine hiking through the muddy trails with your sandals, will they really from getting torn? This can totally ruin your experience. So it’s recommended to wear hiking boots. If you forgot them yet you are already at the Park, the Park Rangers can lend you their gumboots so that you don’t face difficulty while hiking. But do not intentionally travel to the Park without your own hiking boots.
Strong gardening gloves are also handy because in the process of hiking/tracking, you will need to pull yourself using tree branches and vines. You might mistakenly touch the stinging nettles or thorns that can scratch your hands hence ruin your experience. You can always take them off when you reach the mountain gorillas, so that you take photographs easily.
You also need a rainproof daypack for carrying your snacks, drinking water, cameras and binoculars because you cannot be sure of when it will start raining.
A rain jacket or poncho is very important during tracking, whether in rainy or dry season. You wouldn’t want to be washed by rain when hiking. The mistake that most trackers do is to leave their rain jackets behind when they know it is a dry season. The tropical rainforests where these mountain gorillas are found experience equatorial climate and are situated in areas of higher elevations where it rains anytime.
A hat with a brim is also important to protect your heads from the effects of strong sunshine or even rain. Sunglasses with a neck trap are also handy when for your gorilla trekking.
Do not forget to carry a walking stick on the day of hiking. Most Lodges provide these walking sticks to trackers while others can be attained from the Park headquarters/visitor centers or the Briefing Camp during briefing.
Once you are certain that you are dressed appropriately for the gorilla trekking adventure, add your camera with enough batteries to capture every moment of the adventure, binoculars, a gorilla permit, snacks/packed lunch and enough drinking water of at least one liter and then hire a porter to carry your backpack, and also support you during hiking. Hiring a porter is also a way of supporting a family living within these protected areas. With all these be sure to have an enjoyable gorilla trekking safari with memories for a lifetime.
In conclusion, gorilla trekking is a once in a lifetime adventure that takes you through the jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This same clothing list is essential for gorilla trekking in other national parks including the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park of Uganda and Virunga National Park in Eastern Democratic Repuplic of Congo. To have a face to face encounters with the Critically endangered mountain gorillas, this is the ultimate packing list you need in order to achieve a memorable gorilla trekking experience. It is important for gorilla trekkers to dress appropriately and carry the right tracking gear including long trousers, long sleeved shirts among others.