Despite the fact that it’s expensive, but excitingly gorilla trekking is the most famous and thrilling tourist activity in Africa and world over. The mountain gorillas occupy Virunga region,which is shared between Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. For visitors who are interested in encountering these gentle beings in the wild, they can visit Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga gorilla national parks in Uganda, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in D.R. Congo.
A gorilla trek is truly, once-in-a-lifetime African safari experience in every sense of the phrase. And what you definitely don’t want is to be pondering about what you’ve packed, or encounter that awful sense of foreboding when you realize your new hiking boots or rather your water proof pants don’t fit that well. To answer all your packing questions, we’ve put together a collection of gorilla trekking essentials; what to take and what not to take – leaving you to enjoy every moment of your trek with less but only essential luggage.
Gorilla trekking permit.
A permit comes on the list as #1, not accidentally but intentionally, because … you need it more than any other item on the list. As you prepare to really get up-close-and-personal with the mighty gorillas, never forget to reserve a permit in advance, either through a tour agent or by yourself; either way, don’t forget to park it as you prepare to head to the misty mountains where gorillas dwell.
In all the gorilla destinations Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo trekkers are required to present these permits to the park headquarters before proceeding for pre-trek briefing and to the jungle for the real adventure.
This mighty be sound strange to you, but you surely need the gloves as your priority gorilla trekking essentials.
Gorilla habitats in Africa include mountain rainforests, dense jungles that are full of thick, tangled vines and quite a few will always end up round your feet or dangling in front of you. In such cases, thick gardening gloves come in handy to protect your hands as you pull them away, and help you move any thick foliage aside as you stride through the jungles.
Bottled water and some snacks.
Gorilla trekking is an adventure that needs trekkers to be physically fit, and this means it needs enough drinking water and some energy giving snacks to fairly remain strong and be able to finish the long awaited trek. Some of the packed energy snacks can be nuts or dried fruits to keep the trekkers energetic.
Long sleeves and long trousers.
As trekkers penetrate through the thick forest, there are chances that they can come across stinging vines enroute, Scratchy bushes, and falling tree branches and it is a reason why long sleeves and long trousers or pants are most definitely gorilla trekking essentials. But you’ll want to be as covered up as possible. If you’re worried about being too hot, take layers – think one or two light-weight, long-sleeve tops under a thin waterproof jacket.
The long trousers can also allow free movement during the hike in the forest because the legs are covered. If trekkers also add knee-high hiking gaiters or thick socks, these are perfect essentials for keeping your ankles covered and safe. Trekkers are advised to always tuck in the trousers or the pants in to the socks before hitting the jungle in search of the giant mountain gorillas.
Rain Jacket / coats.
With the nature of the jungle, rain is expected any time of the day so no matter the season, a rain coat is recommended. This rain jacket is important because it can help protect the trekkers from rain water while deep in search of the humble mountain gorillas in their natural environment.
Since a gorilla trek is by far different from game drives in savannah areas, and it involves hiking in the jungle, on steep slopes and thick forest while searching for the gorillas. This is so challenging in terms of penetration and navigation through the vines, slippery rocks, mud and many other hard attributes of the jungle. Such conditions inevitably need hiking boots that are light and water proof so that at the end the experience won’t be a disappointment.
Medicine and Toiletries.
Given that each person understands themselves better than someone else, because of the change in weather, environment and food; it is common that trekkers may contract Malaria, food poisoning, fever, etc. Therefore, it is recommended that they carry anti malaria pills, pain killers, and other basic medicine like insect repellents to safe guard them from forest insect bites. The recommended repellent is the DEET. Other recommended toiletries include; toilet papers, in case you may need to “pee” in the bush.
Use the one hour given to you maximally by getting the best images / videos and interact with the gorillas in different ways. It is for lifetime experience that a camera shouldn’t miss in your carry-on items when embarking on a gorilla trekking tour. Trek with a camera and make sure the batteries can sustain you or you can go with extra batteries.
Note that the camera should not have any flashlight and if it has trekkers are advised to turn it off during the photo shot session. For the bird lovers, carry along a pair of binoculars to watch different bird species as you trek the gorillas.
Some of the items that one can also addon to the list of things to pack during a gorilla trek include; sunglasses, hat, walking stick, first aid kit, waterproof day pack for documents though these can be left at the park headquarters or with the tour guide if you have one