Plan on visiting Africa in the near future? If gorilla trekking is on the menu, understand this will be no walk in the park. In today’s blog, we’ll share several tips that will teach you how to prepare for a gorilla safari. This way, you’ll have a rewarding experience rather than an ordeal.
Get in shape
And by that, we don’t just mean getting physically fit. You’ll need to be prepared to scale steep, muddy slopes in a quick, efficient manner. There is no set timeframe for a visitation when you are gorilla trekking in Uganda – these gentle beasts come and go as they please, so it’s important to move fast when a group is spotted by rangers.
Going on long day hikes in the nearest national park is a great way to learn how to prepare for a gorilla safari. By taking roughly-cut trails into the backcountry, you’ll encounter terrain similar in difficulty to what you and your fellow gorilla trekkers will have to negotiate in just a few months.
Take a daypack with you
Your gorilla safari may only last a couple of hours. Or, you could be out in the Ugandan wilderness all day. To ensure your time in the thick mountain jungles of Bwindi National Park is as comfortable as possible, you’ll want to bring supplies with you.
Daypacks work perfectly for this purpose, as they have enough space to carry warm and waterproof layers, snacks, water, and camera equipment. We recommend a 30L bag, as it will have enough room for at least two litres of water in addition to all your other supplies.
Because of the unpredictable movements of gorilla troops, your trekking experience in Uganda is unlikely to be an on-trail one. As a result, we strongly advise purchasing gear that will protect you as you bushwhack through untrammelled territory.
If you want to learn how to prepare for a gorilla safari, getting the gear needs to be part of your preparations. Start with a sturdy pair of hiking poles. These will be invaluable as you scramble up steep slopes slicked down with mud and mist – one fall is all it takes to ruin your day.
Next, find clothing that is thick in its construction. Why would we suggest this choice of clothing for a sweaty hike in an African jungle? Stinging nettles – that’s why. A plant that administers a histamine-filled sting on contact, brushing up against it offers an unpleasant surprise for unprepared hikers.
Outdoor outfitters often sell clothing that is resistant to the needles of this plant – ask, and they’ll point you in the right direction. Finally, throw some gardening gloves in your pack before heading to Uganda – this will protect your hands in the event you stumble and fall.
Get some proper hiking boots
This deserves its own section – we’re shocked all the time at the number of trekkers who attempt to hike the highlands of Bwindi in their trainers (or worse, their flip-flops). If you want to avoid getting vicious calluses on your soaking, sore feet, getting a decent pair of hiking boots is a must.
With superior treading and super-supportive soles, you’ll be thankful you learned how to prepare for a gorilla safari as you watch your under-prepared companions go for a spill.
Follow all instructions from your guides
Mountain gorillas are our closest cousins in the animal kingdom. As magical as an encounter can be, though, realize they are wild animals. If you act in a threatening manner, they may run away, or worse, they may attack you.
For this reason, it is critical you follow all instructions given by your guides to the letter. Maintain a distance of 21 feet, stick with your group, and keep your voices low – by doing this, you’ll stay safe and ensure the gorillas will stick around for future generations to enjoy.