What to Pack for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda?

Are you wondering about what to Pack for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda? There are several indisputable facts that you need to know before undertaking a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda.  In just one day, the sunny blue skies will most likely greet you in the morning. Downpours in the afternoon, and cold temperatures in the evening. You can’t escape the humidity. Sometimes your hiking boots get socked in the marshlands, or the scorching sun beats down at noon. Park guides, Rangers, and Lodge staff take the weather of Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks (where gorilla trekking is done in Uganda) seriously, and so should you.

Gorilla trekking adventures normally start early in the morning (7:00 am with a briefing at the respective Park Headquarters/visitor centers), when temperatures are still chilly and the activity is done on foot. Remember you will need to carry your backpack for a reasonable distance while searching for the Giant Apes in their natural habitats.

It is undeniable that gorilla trekking is an experience of a lifetime, which sometimes can’t be described by mere words. However, to properly relish this unforgettable adventure, there is a need to be well prepared. Uganda, the Pearl of Africa generally experiences a warm tropical climate, but the endangered mountain gorillas occupy thick forests high in the mountains (2500 to 4000 meters above sea level), where temperatures drop significantly at night and remain cold into the early morning.

What to Pack for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda?

The vegetation and Altitude

The high altitudes, coupled with dense vegetation (tropical rainforest) make gorilla treks challenging hence the activity isn’t for the faint-hearted. You will have to walk along undefined pathways created by Rangers and porters to make the jungle navigable. More still, forest trails become muddy and slippery during certain months. This requires visitors/trekkers to grab onto vines and creepers (that sometimes have thorns). Scramble over rocks and logs, and at times cross streams and rivers. Also, bear in mind that there will also be the stinging nettle and insects like fire ants and soldiers (the sound of their names sends shivers down your spine). Now you see why you need to be well-equipped for your long-awaited gorilla trekking trip if it is to be unforgettable for good reasons.

Here’s our comprehensive packing list for gorilla trekking in Uganda, to help with the preparation of your memorable gorilla safari.

Clothing 

Lightweight, breathable, and comfortable are the three words that should describe the ideal clothing for gorilla trekking in Uganda. We also recommend waterproof trousers and shirts that dry quickly.

Waterproof, breathable, and lightweight long trousers

Long trousers are one of the most crucial items that you need to pack for gorilla trekking in Uganda, and a waterproof pair is highly recommended. These will be tucked into your long socks to obviate the fire ants, soldiers, and other stinging insects from crawling into your legs and biting/stinging you.

Thick long cotton socks

A good quality pair of cotton socks is handy for gorilla trekking in Uganda. It will help in providing warmth during the chilly early morning start of gorilla treks or evenings as you relax at the Lodge. The socks should be long enough to allow tucking of trouser ends thus stopping insects from crawling up your legs and biting during trekking.

Comfortable long-sleeved shirt/blouse

You can never go wrong with the long-sleeved shirts/blouses because you will at least be guaranteed protection from the chilly mornings before gorilla treks as well as protection from the stinging nettles, biting insects, as well as the scratching branches and vines.

While deciding on which kind of shirt/blouse to pack, choose the one/s with a neutral color like light-brown khaki, dark blue, or even green as you are likely to be an obtrusive gorilla spectator in bright-colored clothes. However, some colors such as black and blue are also not recommended because they attract insects, especially tsetse flies.

A waterproof and lightweight rain jacket/poncho

Regardless of season (whether dry or wet), rain in the rainforest occurs at any time of the year. Hence expect showers any time of the day, even during gorilla treks. For this reason, a waterproof and lightweight rain jacket will keep you dry and comfortable while trekking or spending time with the mountain gorillas.

A safari hat

Gorilla trekking doesn’t only involve walking under tree canopies but also under the scorching sun hence the safari hat will provide protection. Not only that, the hat is important for providing protection from the rain as well as the flicking of tree branches.

Footwear 

Sturdy and waterproof hiking boots

One of the most crucial gorilla trekking essentials is a comfortable pair of hiking boots. Sandals and sneakers might be comfortable for you. But not a good choice as the forest trails are sometimes muddy and slippery. Hence you require good traction during trekking. Would you like to know why hiking boots? Well, they provide the much-needed support for your ankles. They also provide stability and balance. This is in addition to protecting you against biting insects and thorns.

However, it is not advisable to pack a newly purchased pair of hiking boots. You might get uncomfortable or are likely to get blisters on the day of trekking. For this reason, we recommend purchasing in advance and trying them out at home to avoid any risk of blistered or sore feet while trekking the mountain gorillas.

Waterproof Sandals

After your long and hectic gorilla trekking adventure in Bwindi or Mgahinga National Park, the first thing you would wish for is to allow your feet to breathe while at the same time protecting them from mosquitoes. This is where your waterproof sandals come in. You can easily wear them with socks and relax at the Lodge while taking in the breathtaking views around the Lodge.

Other important items to pack for gorilla trekking in Uganda include;

Gardening gloves

These gloves are specifically important for protecting your hands against stinging nettles, thorns, or any other form of protection during gorilla trekking. In some cases, you will want to grab vines and branches, especially when ascending or descending the mountainsides.

A reusable water bottle

A reusable water bottle should also be packed for gorilla trekking in Uganda. As a way of reducing the use of plastic, we recommend carrying reusable water bottles. These are filled with water before gorilla treks. You will need at least 2 liters of water during trekking to keep you hydrated. Most safari lodges around Bwindi or Mgahinga have safe drinking water dispensers hence it is easy to just fill your bottle each day and reduce plastic bottles.

Sunscreen

A sunscreen is also important for protecting your skin from the scorching tropical sunshine. Remember that the sun’s rays can be brutal around midday and your face will require sunscreen. This can be carried in your backpack and reapplied when necessary.

A good camera

Many of our phones have good cameras but if you can afford to carry a good camera, then why not? You would love to capture these precious moments of a lifetime. But before venturing into the forest, make sure that the camera is well charged the day before. If it is battery-operated, it is good to carry extra batteries. Don’t forget to pack charging cables to avoid disappointment with a dead camera.

Insect repellant

Another very important item for gorilla trekking in Uganda, and an environmentally friendly one would be a good idea. There’s no brainer that there are lots of insects in the forest. Wearing an insect repellant (like RID) will make gorilla trekking less stressful.

A backpack

It won’t matter whether you are undertaking gorilla trekking for the first time or are coming back for the second, third, or even fourth time. But a primate enthusiast will know how important it is to pack a waterproof backpack. Having the perfect backpack is likely to make or break your gorilla trekking experience. It is important for storing items (like a camera, binoculars, snacks, packed lunch, drinking water, even your passport, and the rain jacket) needed during gorilla treks.

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