Packing and Wearing the Right Clothing for your Gorilla Trek in Uganda or Rwanda
The Right Clothing Protects you – The Best Advice as to What to wear while Gorilla Trekking in Uganda – Rwanda
The word Bwindi means Impenetrable – in reality – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is doubly impenetrable meaning that one has to be prepared for the Gorilla Tracking Adventure you are about to embark on. Preparation means packing and wearing clothing, footwear, hat, socks that will protect you on your gorilla trek or Gorilla Habituation Experience.
What to wear while Gorilla Trekking in Uganda – Rwanda -Dressing for your Rwanda Gorilla Trek in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is the same – though the landscape is different from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the clothing needed for Gorilla Tracking is the same.
The right Clothing and Footwear on a Gorilla Trek protects you from Nettles, Thorns, Branches and even pesky flies, soldier ants, spiders, and more.
When going on a one of a kind Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda – the same clothing applies, except you will need 3 liters of water.
What to wear while Gorilla Trekking in Uganda – Rwanda:
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when going gorilla tracking and is not being dressed right, they wear sandals (one man wore Flip and Flops and it took two porters to help him), wear shorts, wear just a T-Shirt, have no day pack, no water.
Going Gorilla trekking is not a trip to a park for a picnic – it takes some forethought and planning, especially when it comes as to what to wear and bring while going on a gorilla trek.
While preparing – packing for your Gorilla Trek, keep in mind that Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla Park, and Volcanoes National Park are at higher elevations and it gets cold here at night, pack a sweater, or use your light rain jacket.
You are not hiking on comfortable paths, but small trails or “no trails at all”, some of them freshly blazed by the Rangers – you have to wear the right clothing for your protection – it means dressing for the occasion and the occasion is a Gorilla Trek – a once in lifetime activity for most and it is best to wear the right stuff for your Protection or as Ugandans say in Ugandan English (Uglish) – Dress Smart. Fly in Gorilla Trekking
Fly in Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda with Aerolink Airline allows you only 15 kilos, wear the jacket, hat, boots, long trousers, and a long-sleeved shirt on the flight.
Pack right – Here are our recommendations as to “What to wear while Gorilla Trekking in Uganda – Rwanda”
A pair of waterproof hiking boots is needed. The trails can be slippery in the early mornings especially if it rained. Trackers, Rangers here often wear gumboots, rubber boots – but you do not see any of them wearing sandals, white sneakers, or some other footwear that will not be comfortable and inappropriate and harmful to you as you track the Mountain Gorillas.
The Plus about Wellies – Rubber Boots: They cover you up to almost your knees, are easy to clean and give you traction if they have tread – they are used by most Rangers and Trackers – some tourists have started to use them.
Hiking boots give you good ankle support, traction, stability and balance, all important while Gorilla Tracking and don’t forget good- thick socks. For added protection, you can tuck your trousers into your socks and protect yourself against insects such as ants.
Clothing – Long-Trousers-Long-Sleeved shirts- light-Rain Jacket – Hat:
Long Trousers – they can be jeans – khaki zip-up trousers – but they have to be long-sleeved. A long-sleeved shirt is also necessary. Both protect you against Nettles, branches, thorns and anything else that can scratch you.
Tug your pants into your socks to protect from fire ants – it may not look fashionable but it is practical.
Many Gorilla Trek visitors will ignore this advice and come in shorts and tank-tops – look at their exposed skin at the end of the gorilla trek and you will find scratches and nettle burns. It is best to cover yourself up with a long sleeved shirt, trousers 0r jeans. Shorts might be on your mind or a Tank Top, stick to our advice and you will be glad you did.
Cotton undergarments will keep you comfortable and women need to pick comfortable bras for a hike that can be tough.
Tough Gardening Gloves:
Take along some Gardening Gloves – are you kidding me?
Yes, you read right – sturdy Gardening Gloves – no you are not going gardening but on a gorilla trek and the gloves allow you to pull yourself up on vines, branches and once again not get scratched.
Those that use them are quite glad that they did since you often go off of the trail and simply enter the bush where the gorillas are in order to spend your hour with them.
You can take your gloves off when you are with the gorillas in order to take pictures. Gardening Gloves – bring them along – they might come in handy.
Wear a Hat:
A hat comes in handy to protect your head from the elements – may it be sun or rain. A Wide brimmed hat is best for protection against the sun.
At the least wear a baseball cap, but it does not protect your neck against the tropical sun that comes out after the morning mist has lifted in the mountains.
You do not need an expensive Tilley Hat, a good wide-brimmed hat will d and you can wear it on the plane coming to Uganda or Rwanda.
The alternative is a baseball hat, or purchasing a hat in Uganda or Rwanda and there is a wide-range available in local markets including Craft Markets.
A Light Rain-Jacket:
You are trekking Gorillas in the Rainforest and often in the morning, there is that “Gorillas in the Mist” feel to it all where a rain jacket comes in handy.
Rain Forest also means that in spite of you coming in the Dry-Season Months of the year, it can rain at any time, after all, you are in a Tropical Rainforest and at times it does rain for a spell in the morning, yet the sun comes out each day to dry the ground.
A Poncho can also be used and is often worn by Rangers, Trackers, and Porters. Use a light one that you can fold or roll up and put into your Daypack until the time that you need it.
A Sweater for Cool Nights and Early Mornings:
Yes, a sweater in Africa. it is not an accident that Luxury and Upmarket Lodges here have fireplaces in the rooms or cottages for your comfort.
It gets cold here at night. In Bwindi Impenetrable Forest 11°C/52°F and near Volcanoes National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla Park 10°C/50°F. That for Tropical, Equatorial Africa is cool, for visitors to the area it may just feel right.
Even though you are close to the equator it might behoove you to bring a sweater or cardigan. This is for the same reason that most lodges give you a hot water bottle for your comfort as you go to sleep while luxury lodges have a fireplace in your cottage or room for your comfort.
Wear lots of Insect Repellent, a good DEET product is fine for Gorilla Trekking. If you combine a Savannah Park we recommend RID which you can buy online and it is made in Australia.
While Gorilla Trekking you come across flies, there are no mosquitoes here but pesky flies.
Simply wearing an insect, good repellent does the job. You will also need to apply sunblock to your body that is exposed.
If you are on a Gorilla Habituation Experience which is an all-day trek, bring the spray along with you in your daypack, be sure to put it into a ziplock bag.
The Extra things to have for your Gorilla Trek:
You will need a good waterproof day pack in which you can pack the things you will be bringing along.
Wrap Camera Equipment in Ziploc Bags or Shower Cap to protect it, a small first aid kit with band aids, insect repellent – during the day there may be a lot of flies present.
Binoculars will not be necessary unless you are a Birder.
Your packed lunch and at least two liters of water – some granola or energy bars may come in handy. On a Gorilla Habituation Experience, you will need 3 liters of water.
Pack a light rain jacket or poncho – you are tracking Gorillas in a rainforest.
Extra things – Swiss-Army Knife – First-Aid Kit- Insect Repellent mostly for flies – Sunglasses may come in handy.
Use Ziplock Bag to cover anything you are trying to protect from water, plus to keep the Deet Based Insect Repellant from spilling on bag, other items.
Porters are readily available both in Uganda in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and in Rwanda at Volcanoes National Park.
Some feel that it is demeaning to use a porter – not realizing that porters make a decent income which pays for homes, school fees for children, food, medical care and more.
You benefit by being free to move around and take pictures without the weight of the daypack.
Using a porter, it is a win-win situation for all – the Porter benefits and you benefit.
Porters are available both in Uganda and Rwanda at each Gorilla Trek trailhead and in some cases, they have carried people with disabilities on a stretcher like contraptions to see the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda and Uganda.
Walking Sticks come in most handy as you traverse the difficult terrain while tracking Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda.
Most people use the plain tall walking sticks which can be purchased and at times are furnished by lodges, etc.
You can also buy a carved ornamental walking sticks that you can buy to take home as a reminder of your eventful day spending one hour with the Mountain Gorillas of Uganda or Rwanda.
When you buy such a stick you support the local economy and help a Ugandan or Rwandan family – once again a win-win situation for all. They make an honorable income and you take home a reminder of your Gorilla Trek.
Protecting your Camera and Lenses on a Gorilla Trek:
Those wanting to trek Gorillas are always looking our “Best Time for Visit for Gorilla Trekking” Page and here you are now in December during the dry Season and yet as you head out on the Trail for your Trek it is raining.
How you best protect your Camera Gear – Ziploc Bags, large ones do the job. There are commercial products on the market that cost a lot more money, but a simple large Ziploc Bag will do the job. What about Rwanda’s Ban on Plastic Bags – if officials see that you are protecting something, like keeping insect repellent in a ziploc bag they usually allow it since they figure that you will take the bag back with you. Same applies to Camera Equipment Protection. You can also use a shower cap, yes, a shower cap to protect your camera and lenses.
You have a dilemma – you flew into Kigali or Entebbe and your luggage is lost, missing, delayed and your gorilla Trek is beginning soon. Let us give you a Plan- B – where you can still enjoy your Gorilla Trek while we worry about getting the lost luggage to you.
Wear the Trek Clothing on your flight, including boots, use a carry-on luggage and a daypack and for the most part, you are set for Gorilla Trekking.
When you return from your trek, your luggage most often will be there and you can continue your safari in Uganda and Rwanda.
Lost Luggage rarely happens, but it does happen, be prepared and do not miss out on your safari.
The Ultimate Gorilla Experience has proved to be the Gorilla Habituation Experience in the Rushaga Area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Just 3 hours plus from Kigali, Rwanda, in Uganda you can spend time on an all-day trek that includes 4 hours with one of the two gorilla groups being habituated. This is exclusive, one of a kind Gorilla Experience is limited to 4 participants who are willing to pay 1500 USD for the permits. A price that seems small in comparison to the one hour with a Gorilla Family Price in Rwanda that is also 1500 USD.
In Uganda, you can still trek Gorillas at 600 USD and be one hour with them, but Uganda offers you also the 4 hours with the Gorillas on its Habituation Experience.
What to wear while Gorilla Trekking? Simple, follow the above advice you just might hear from a porter, tracker, ranger, guide – “You are looking smart.” Meaning in Uganda or Rwanda that you have dressed right for the occasion.
Enjoy your Gorilla Trek in Uganda or Rwanda by dressing right, dressing smart…If you continue your safari after Gorilla Trekking and visit Savanna Parks – here is what to wear on such a safari.
Money Saving Options for Gorilla Trekking
As you contemplate a Rwanda-Uganda Safari, keep in mind that the Landscape of Gorilla Trekking drastically changed in May of 2017 when Rwanda doubled its Permit Prices as part of their upmarket marketing Strategy for Rwanda.
As you plan your time in the Heart of Africa – the Choice is yours – Pay 1500 USD for Permits in Rwanda or 600 USD for Gorilla Permits in Uganda’s two Gorilla Parks – Mgahinga Gorilla Park in the Virunga Volcanoes and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park that CNN calls one of the best parks in Africa and is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. At the end of the day, you know what you can afford and the choice is yours – we will make your wishes a reality whether in Rwanda or Uganda.
If you have any questions about Gorilla Trekking in Uganda- Please contact us