How Long Does Gorilla Trekking Last?

How long does gorilla trekking last? Gorilla Trekking is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that every primate enthusiast is sure to enjoy and remember for a lifetime. You and other primate lovers get the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the jungle’s most majestic and gigantic creatures as they feed, socialize, rest, or even mate. While it is unforgettable and quite a jaw-dropping sight to witness mountain gorillas in their natural habitats, it can take some time to look for and spot them in the dense forests where they live. These endangered creatures, totaling about 1080 individuals are found in only three countries- Uganda (where they live in Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks), Rwanda (where they live in Volcanoes National Park), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (where they live in Virunga National Park).

It is always significant to bear in mind that while out in their natural habitats (high on the mountains, in the dense forest), we are in the wild (and not in a confined place like a zoo) and hence expect anything to happen. While maneuvering and navigating the forests, we are entering their territory and we can’t tell when the mountain gorillas will be located, hence sit back, relax your mind, and relish your time in the forest as you will come across lots of bird species, other primates, unique tree species, colorful butterflies, and other outstanding creatures while searching for the mountain gorillas.

When all is said and done, our article will provide a few additional information on what to expect and how to make your gorilla trekking experience more exciting, and memorable.

How long is a gorilla trekking adventure?

Very few tour operators will tell you this but the truth is that the exact timeline of a gorilla trekking adventure varies from time to time, depending on several factors that include- the location/movement of the Giant Apes (this is the main reason), the weather at the time of tracking (as treks will be longer during the wet season whereby trails are muddy and slippery), and the pace of movement. All in all, you should expect a typical gorilla trekking adventure to last anywhere between two and seven hours (including the one hour you will spend in the presence of mountain gorillas.

Usually, a typical gorilla trekking adventure will take anywhere between two and seven hours because you need to navigate the forest on foot in search of the endangered Giant Apes. Depending on the time of the year, it might be necessary to venture further into the forest to find the allocated gorilla family.

For instance, you might take a shorter time finding a particular gorilla family in the wet season than it is in the dry season when they enter deeper into the forest to find food hence extending the length of the adventure slightly. While this is true, one might also argue that gorilla treks tend to be longer in the wet season because the pace of trekkers is slower. This is mainly attributed to the heavy rains which make forest floors wet and muddy thus making it difficult to navigate through the jungles while searching for the mountain gorillas.

How Long Does Gorilla Trekking Last?

Movement/location of the gorilla family that you are allocated to track

Mountain gorillas live in the wild, which means they are always on the move to look for food and where to make new nests (they make new ones every day). Therefore, the further they are from the starting point, the longer it will take to find them. No one dictates how the mountain gorillas will move on a particular day and for this reason, it is difficult to sometimes predict how long the gorilla trekking adventure will last. All in all, the closer the mountain gorillas are to the starting point, the shorter the trek and the further they are from the starting point, the longer the gorilla trek.

Age of trekkers and walking abilities: The elderly trekkers and those with reduced mobility (due to ankle/hip/knee operations or any other operation that affects walking will affect how long the gorilla trek will last. However, the good news is that visitors can hire porters to be lifted on sedan chairs during gorilla trekking.

Things to do to keep up with gorilla treks

As it is with any difficult undertaking, preparation is important for gorilla trekking and there are several things you can do to prepare your body and mind for this life-changing adventure. First, gradually step up the intensity of your workouts (hiking and trekking) as you get closer to your gorilla trekking date. This physical preparation is important for avoiding injuries and preparing your body for the demands of the activity.

Secondly, also intensify cardiovascular activities like swimming, running, and cycling as they improve your overall fitness levels. Muscle strength can also be built through strength training exercises like weight lifting, sit-ups, and push-ups. Additionally, you can improve flexibility by practicing with stretching exercises like yoga.

On a lighter note, you can choose easier gorilla treks if need be. While we say the duration and intensity of gorilla treks are difficult to predict (considering mountain gorillas are always on the move), there are habituated gorilla families that are considered “easier to trek” than others because of their home range.

Always listen to your body during gorilla treks. While meeting face to face with mountain gorillas is a dream of many travelers, always know your limits and don’t push too hard. Don’t opt for the harder treks if you aren’t physically fit and always feel free to take a break when you begin to feel sore or tired. It is also advisable to always hydrate hence at least 2 liters of water is recommended.

Other forest life you will see during gorilla trekking

In as much as the main goal of gorilla trekking adventures is, of course, to sight the endangered and gigantic mountain gorillas, trekkers will get the golden opportunity to spot other species of forest life including birds (Regal sunbirds, Dusky Crimsonwing, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, handsome francolin, Stripe-breasted tit, Rwenzori batis, Kivu ground thrush, Red-throated alethe, and many others), mammals, butterfly species, and different reptile and amphibian species. Gorilla treks are normally done with experienced Ranger guides who help to provide comprehensive information on any and everything visitors witness during gorilla treks in the forest hence enriching the experience and learn new things.

What to bring with you for gorilla trekking?

When heading out for a gorilla trekking adventure, you will need to pack the necessary items for a memorable trekking experience. Regardless of the season, you should bring a rain jacket because you never can tell when the skies choose to surprise you with rain during trekking. You also need to bring a good camera because you can’t afford to miss capturing images of an infant gorilla jumping on tree branches or watching them groom each other. You also need sunscreen, a good backpack for carrying items needed during the trek, a good pair of binoculars, long cotton socks, gardening gloves, a safari hat, a packed lunch, enough drinking water, and finally a first aid kit.

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