Here are some Gorilla trekking tips and insights to help you prepare for an epic gorilla-tracking African holiday in Uganda or Rwanda.
Gorilla trekking is one of the absolute highlights of any trip to Uganda or Rwanda. Gorilla trekking is a thrilling and unique adventure that allows you to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most magnificent creatures, the mountain gorillas. The feeling of being in the midst of these gentle giants is indescribable and unforgettable.
This extraordinary experience takes you deep into the dense rainforests of Uganda and Rwanda, where you can observe these gentle giants in their natural habitat.
The amount of time needed for tracking gorillas can be as little as 30 minutes or as long as 7 hours. This depends on how far the given gorilla family has moved since it was last seen, the previous day. The time does fly by and however long it takes, the experience of meeting the gorillas face-to-face is unbelievable.
To ensure that your gorilla trekking adventure goes as smoothly as possible, here are some valuable insights and tips to have in mind.
Gorilla Trekking Tips & Guidelines
Before You Set Out
1. Get your gorilla permits in advance
Securing a permit is the first step to embarking on a gorilla trekking adventure. These permits are limited, and demand is high, so it’s important to secure yours well in advance.
In Rwanda and Uganda, it’s recommended to book gorilla tracking permits several months ahead of your planned trek. Permits are typically less expensive in Uganda, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious travelers.
2. Be physically prepared
Gorilla trekking involves hiking through dense forests and sometimes rough terrain. It’s essential to be in good physical shape to make the trek more manageable. Regular exercise and endurance training can help prepare you for the adventure.
Do not visit the gorillas if you have a cold or other infectious illness as they are easily susceptible to human diseases.
3. Pack appropriately
When packing for your gorilla trekking safari, consider the following:
- Lightweight, moisture-wicking, and breathable clothing. Avoid bright colors as they can startle the gorillas.
- Long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect against nettles and insects.
- Waterproof and windproof jacket or poncho for potential rain and cooler weather.
- Sturdy, comfortable hiking boots with ankle support and good grip.
- Gaiters to protect your lower legs from thorns, mud, and insects.
- A wide-brimmed hat or a cap for sun protection.
- Gloves for gripping branches and protecting your hands.
- A small, lightweight daypack to carry essentials.
- A refillable water bottle.
- Binoculars and camera with extra batteries, and memory cards.
- Necessary medications and a basic first aid kit.
Here is a full article to help you understand what to pack for gorilla tracking.
4. Minimum age
The minimum age for tracking is 15 years due to the physical demands of the trek and the need for silence during tracking.
5. Time of your visit
The best time to go gorilla trekking in both Uganda and Rwanda is during the dry seasons, which offer more favorable trekking conditions and a higher chance of a successful and enjoyable experience.
It essential to be prepared for varying weather conditions, even during the dry season, as rain can occur at any time in the tropical rainforests where gorillas live.
When You Are With The Gorillas
1. Respect the gorillas and their habitat
A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group (family) of habituated Gorillas in a day. This reduces the risk of exposing the gorillas to human-borne diseases and also minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas.
While observing gorillas;
- Maintain a safe distance, typically around 7 meters.
- Keep your voice low and avoid making sudden movements that may disturb the gorillas.
- Littering is strictly prohibited, so make sure to carry out all your waste. Human waste should be buried 30cm (12 inches) deep
- If you must sneeze or cough cover your face and turn away from the gorillas, as they can catch coughs and colds from humans
- Do not eat or drink while you are near the Gorillas.
- Sometimes the Gorillas charge. Follow the guide’s example by crouching down slowly, and do not look the Gorillas in the eyes. Wait for the gorilla to pass you by and do not attempt to run away (this will increase the risk of attack).
- The maximum time visitors are allowed to spend with the Gorillas is one hour; however, if the Gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will end the visit early.
2. Follow safety guidelines
Your guide is your most valuable resource during the trek. Listen to their instructions, and they’ll ensure your safety and a fulfilling experience. They’re well-versed in gorilla behavior and know how to approach the animals without causing distress.
They will provide important safety guidelines to protect both the gorillas and yourself. These guidelines may include instructions on how to behave in the presence of gorillas and what to do in case of an emergency.
3. Photography etiquette
While it’s undoubtedly tempting to capture the moment, it’s essential to be mindful of your photography during gorilla trekking. Do not use flash photography and use quiet camera settings. This is to make sure you don’t scare the gorillas.
4. Stay hydrated and energized
The trek can be physically demanding, so it’s crucial to stay hydrated and energized. Carry enough water and snacks to keep you fueled throughout the trek. Drinking water is essential to prevent dehydration, especially in the tropical climates where gorillas are found.
Gorilla trekking is a magical adventure that allows you to connect with nature and witness the incredible beauty of these endangered gorillas.
By preparing adequately and following the tips above, you can make the most of your gorilla trekking safari and create lasting memories of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plan ahead, stay informed, and embrace the journey with excitement and respect for the natural world.