WHAT TO PACK FOR GORILLA TREKKING
Boots – Essential. A good quality pair of hiking boots from a store like Kathmandu will serve you well. They’re expensive, but so are your ankles when they break. Don’t risk it with a cheap pair of sneakers.
Gloves – During the trek you might be grabbing trees, branches and vines, and your hands can get a bit scratched and generally beaten up if you’re not careful. Pack a tough old pair of gardening gloves. They’ll look lame, but you’ll be glad you brought them.
Light rain jacket – Bwindi and Mgahinga are both tropical rainforests, and there’s a good chance of rain almost the year-round. Pack a light-weight poncho or rain jacket that you can roll up in your bag and bring out if necessary.
Energy snacks – The trek to the mountain gorillas isn’t impossible, but it is tough. Energy snacks like nuts, dried fruit, chocolate or power bars are a great idea. Just remember to take any rubbish with you as you go.
Water – Avoid buying plastic water bottles while you’re in Uganda. They’re terrible for the environment. Bring a reusable canteen (preferably with a purifying filter built in) or a pack of filtration tablets. You’ll need to drink a lot during the trek.
Long pants and shirts – Its best not to expose too much skin during the jungle trek, and remember to tuck your trousers into your socks – you really don’t want safari ants crawling up there.
WHAT TO EXPECT
To help you prepare for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of gorilla trekking, here’s more detailed information about what you can expect.
The trek itself
The trek starts in the early morning and after border formalities you are transferred to a ranger’s station where the trek commences. Your rangers will lead you through cultivated lands, then into dense rainforest and as close as is allowed to a gorilla family.
The rangers monitor the gorillas on a daily basis and have a fairly good idea of where they are. However, they are free roaming animals, and their sighting cannot be guaranteed. Trekking can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 8 hours and can be quite strenuous, so a reasonable level of fitness is required.
Time with the gorillas
To ensure the gorillas don’t get too used to human presence, and because they share many of our genes and are able to catch our diseases, the maximum time permitted to spend with them is 1 hour. This is plenty of time to watch their activity and take photographs.
The rangers will be able to provide you with a background to the family you are visiting. Then, once your hour is up, you trek back out of the rainforest to your meeting point.
Those considering gorilla trekking should realize the demands and unpredictability of the areas visited. Often, the trek through thick, dense jungle can be somewhat strenuous and due to the nature of the gorillas and their habits, viewing cannot be guaranteed.
Although the groups of gorilla that are seen on jungle treks have been habituated, they have not been tamed and their behaviour is not demonstrably different from that of non-habituated groups. Nobody forces them to stay for the allotted hour, and they can fade into the forest as you appear, if they wish to do so.
Further, as gorillas are extremely sensitive to human disease, the park authorities will not allow anyone they consider to be in poor health to visit the gorilla groups. Additionally, no children under 16 years of age are permitted to visit.
GORILLA PERMIT COSTS
The cost and availability of gorilla permits varies by country and park, but currently ranges from USD 600-750 in Uganda. The government often increases the permit and transfer costs without notice, so budget for the highest amount to make sure you’ll be able to partake in this wonderful experience.
The reason that the permits are so costly is because each park only issues 8 permits per gorilla family per day, to ensure that the gorillas’ exposure to humans is limited. 100% of the permit cost is used by the government to help finance patrols that are instrumental in protecting these apes from poachers and their lethal snares.
However, gorilla trekking can be optional activity, We allow you to arrange your personalized itinerary while consulting our consultants.
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