My Dos and Don’ts for gorilla trekking
During my trip to Uganda, I ticked off an experience that has been at the top of my bucket list since watching Gorillas In The Mist. I got to see the mountain gorillas. Words can’t describe the feeling that rushed through me when I first locked eyes with a giant silverback. The experience exceeded all my expectations and should be firmly planted at the top of everyone’s list.
Most of the do’s and don’ts of gorillas trekking will be given to you at the briefing before but there are a couple of things I wish I had know before:
Do bring hiking boots
Gorilla trekking is not just a walk in the park. Each morning the trackers will go ahead of you and go to the place where they last saw the gorillas, from here they will track them to where they have moved to. They are wild animals and the lodges have absolutely no control over where they move to. Treks can take anything from 2 hours to 10 hours and in the rainforest, the terrain can be steep and slippy so you must bring hiking boots.
Do pay for a porter
It costs $15 for a porter. This $15 goes straight back into the community so even if you don’t feel you need one, just do it. These guys are only given the opportunity to be a porter once a month so in an area where there are few job opportunities, this is a crucial source of income for them. My porter carried my bag (which was heavy as it was full of water) pulled and pushed me up the hills and even carried me at one point! These guys were born running up and down these hills, so they are more than capable of doing this in their wellies. Most of them can speak English so it’s also nice to have a chat with them whilst you walk.
Don’t forget your waterproofs
Being a tropical climate it can rain at any point, any day of the year. When it rains it pours down so make sure you have a very good poncho which you can throw over yourself. Waterproof trousers are not so important but make sure you wear fast drying trousers. It is so worth investing in a good waterproof rucksack and some smaller bags for your phone and camera – I didn’t do this and ended up with a phone in rice….
Do wear long sleeves, bring gloves and wear a cap
You are not walking on cut paths so wear long sleeves to protect your arms from getting scratched and stung by nettles. Gloves are so useful as you will find yourself grabbing onto branches when you are scrambling up steep sections. A cap is also useful (more so for women) as your hair can get stuck in the branches above.
If you can do pay for 2 treks
Once you find the gorillas you are allowed to sit with them for 1 hour. 1 hour is never enough.
Don’t spend the whole time watching them behind your camera
Everyone wants that insta-famous photo. Put your camera down and watch them with your own eyes. The memories are more precious.