This gorilla trekking packing list will help you carry the right things for your gorilla-tracking safari in Uganda or Rwanda.
Seeing gorillas in the wild is one of the most exciting wildlife experiences that can be had only on the African continent. In the years we have taken tourists to see gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda, the experience is still as exciting and rewarding as ever.
Planning to visit Africa for gorillas might seem overwhelming because you will have many questions. One of the questions is about what you will need to carry with you.
In this article, we’ll take an extensive look at what you should pack for your gorilla trekking safari. We have separated the list into what is essential and recommended, just in case you need to pack light.
In as much as the article tries to be extensive, feel free to talk to us about any questions regarding your preparation for a gorilla trekking safari. We love hearing from you and will try to be helpful.
Essential Gorilla Trekking Packing List
1. Gorilla permit
A gorilla permit is what allows you to enter the forest in search of the endangered mountain gorillas. There is a limited number of gorilla permits for each day and these permits must be purchased in advance.
Sometimes the permits are sold out for several months. As your tour operator, we do purchase these permits on your behalf such that when you come for your gorilla trekking safari, everything is set and ready for you.
2. Rain jacket
In a rainforest, it can rain at any time of the day in any month of the year with little notice. While you might be visiting in the middle of a dry season, a light rain jacket or poncho is important to have in the event that the skies open up.
The rain can be quite torrential and would completely soak you in less than 10 minutes. The rain jacket or poncho protects you and your items from getting soaked by the rain.
3. Hiking boots
A good pair of hiking boots is absolutely essential when it comes to hiking – especially the steep slopes of thick rainforests. Preferably, your hiking shoes should be well worn which makes them a perfect fit.
Hiking boots made with a thicker upper and firm midsole provide good support and stable traction for your hike.
4. Warm sweater
Mountain gorillas live in high-altitude areas when night and morning temperatures are closer to freezing. Gorilla trekking starts early in the morning when it is still cold and the sun hasn’t come out yet.
A warm sweater is helpful in managing the conditions.
5. Long sleeve shirts
The rainforest is full of all sorts of plants and insects. Long sleeve shirts or blouses help keep those scratches and insect bites to a minimum.
6. Trousers /long pants
For trousers, it is the same deal as long sleeve shirts above. Trousers can be tucked in to keep ants from crawling into your legs.
7. Tuckable socks
To keep the ants and other crawling creatures from entering your pants, it is always a good idea to have a pair of long tuckable socks.
8. Garden / Outdoor Gloves
During your gorilla trek, you will be holding on to all kinds of plants and roots for support. A decent pair of hand gloves protect you from abrasions and injuries.
Additionally, if you have skin allergies or sensitivities, it is best to not directly touch thousands of rare plants in a short time.
Your gorilla trek will expend a lot of energy and soon enough you will be thirsty. Carrying bottled water will help you to hydrate and rehydrate so that you can keep all your focus on the experience of trekking and looking for gorillas.
10. Sun Hat
A wide-brimmed safari is usually ideal for protecting your head and neck from the scorching African sun. While a baseball cap can work, it does leave the neck exposed.
Many visitors choose to buy safari hats from the local shops near the parks as souvenirs and as a way of supporting the locals directly.
To protect your skin from the sun’s radiation, carry some sunscreen with you. The sun can be quite unrelenting and this can lead to sunburn.
In the small towns near the gorilla parks, you will not easily find sunscreen so we advise that you carry it.
Additionally, if you prefer a certain brand of sunscreen that might not be locally available, travel with it from home.
12. Light Backpack
With all the items listed in this packing list, you will need some way of carrying them and a backpack is the most ideal.
Keeping it light is important since the trek to see gorillas is tough. if there is something you don’t need, leave it at your lodge/hotel and don’t deal with the unnecessary weight.
Recommended Gorilla Trekking Packing Lists
Seeing gorillas live in their wild habitat is a wonderful opportunity that many people hope to get someday. Photos and videos have a way of capturing a moment in time, and such great memories should be captured.
Carry a camera for capturing those moments. Get used to your camera and all the settings such that your photos and videos come out as great as you want them.
14. Insect repellant
Insect repellants can help keep insect bites away. With so many insects in the forest ecosystem, it is better to avoid all the irritation and likely illness that can come from insect bites.
You are advised to spray your trekking clothes and bag before starting the hike. If you have sensitive skin, make sure to get the brand that agrees with you.
While your main mission is to see gorillas, you will see a lot more. These gorillas live in unbelievable wild ecosystems teeming with all kinds of life. And while you are on your trek, you will see many birds, monkeys, and small land mammals.
Binoculars are especially handy for birds since places like Bwindi do have some bird species you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
This can include a wide range of items depending on the sex of the person and the length of the trip. On the real day when you are going to see the gorillas, it is good to have some items just in case.
The most common item is toilet paper in case someone needs to ease themselves while still deep in the forest.
Sunglasses are essential when traveling through most of Subsaharan Africa because they protect your eyes from direct sunlight.
In the case of gorilla trekking, you might need to look at some monkeys or birds up a tall tree and you wouldn’t want direct sign light hindering your eyes.
18. Face masks
After the covid pandemic, we have all learned to carry an extra face mask or two. In the case of gorilla trekking, this is to make sure you don’t transfer any communicable disease to the gorillas or your fellow humans.
A mask protects you and others and is always good to carry.
As we have already said, gorilla trekking is not a quick walk and you will get tired. Having a snack or two can help energize you and keep your sugar levels and spirits high.
Snacks are infamous for their wrapping, and you have to make sure you don’t throw those in the forest for obvious reasons. The only thing to leave in the forest should be your footprints.
While not essential, gaiters help protect the feet and lower legs from moisture and mud while you are trekking /hiking. The thick rainforests are very misty and humid, especially in the mornings, and gaiters can come in handy.
If you are trekking mountain gorillas in the rainy season, the gaiter will be even more useful.
21. Porter fees
Even if you are a truly experienced hiker, gorilla trekking is far from a walk in the park. The terrain is steep, the forest is thick and you will get a full-on exercise before you even reach the gorillas.
Getting a local porter to help with your bag is a very helpful thing. Porters are people from the local community who are used to the terrain, and the money you give them goes directly towards helping them and their families.
22. Packed lunch
Even if you already have your bottled water and a snack, we advise you to carry packed lunch for your gorilla trek. In your briefing, you will be told how your hike can take between 30 minutes to 5 hours to get the gorillas. This is because these gorillas are wild animals and follow their own plans.
It is better to pack the lunch and not need it than to leave it behind and need it. Being hungry can make you miss some of the magic in seeing gorillas.