When it comes to gorilla trekking, visitor physical fitness level matters a lot. Unlike the usual safari experiences in the savanna protected areas, gorilla trekking involves active participation before you come across a family of habituated gorillas.
Training and fitness exercises play a great part on all successful gorilla trekking experiences. Mountain gorillas spend most of their time on high altitude, and they get their name considering the nature of landscape where they live. These gorillas live in altitudinal ranges of about 2500-4300m ASL. These are montane areas, featuring sub-tropical or completely tropical forests.
How long does it take to find mountain gorillas?
Trekking to see a group of mountain gorillas takes 2-8 hours, about half day depending on the speed at which visitors walk. All trekkers are allocated fully habituated gorilla groups and each group consists of 2-40 / more members under the leadership of one silverback / dominant adult male.
Mountain gorillas spend most of their day moving searching for what to feed on, mating etc. At times, females can be spotted breastfeeding their babies or when these apes are making new nests on the tree branches. The general daily behavior of mountain gorillas often rotates around these among other special traits that they display.
Before the actual date of trekking mountain gorillas, it is advisable to engage in training or exercise. This is to make your body used to tough terrains and on actual gorilla trek, you won’t have challenges conquering the high elevation areas. Early preparation for your actual trek to see mountain gorilla is essential and here are some of the best exercises you can take to make yourself fit;
The very moment you think of gorilla trekking safari, driving shouldn’t click on your mind. Yes, you will be picked up at the lodge, transferred to the briefing point and from there, you get on active walk or hike through the forest to look for a gorilla group the park official assigns to you.
Considering the nature of the habitat, you need to be fit and you can achieve this by undertaking routine walking earlier while back home or if you can travel to Uganda, Rwanda or Congo early, you can exercise from the hilly areas. You can spend from 2-6 to find a gorilla family and the entire adventure is unpredictable.
Go for long hikes
You can also engage in long treks, strenuous but will be of great help to you. Do as much hikes as you can while back home or in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. This is one way to make your muscles used to longer treks and you won’t have challenges on actual day of trekking to see gorillas.
Stretching is one way of training or exercising or preparing for your gorilla trekking adventure in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Daily stretching plays a significant role, first, you avoid issues to do with heart attacks, muscle pulls, etc.
Carry a walking stick, get a walking stick on actual day of visiting a gorilla family. The lodge management can provide one if they have or get a stick at the park offices when you transfer for briefing on gorilla trekking rules and allocation of gorilla families.
What to carry for a gorilla trekking tour in Rwanda, Congo and Uganda?
Carry only essentials for all your gorilla safaris whether it is Uganda or Rwanda where you plan to go to see mountain gorillas. Here is the list of the things you must carry for gorilla trekking adventure Uganda, Rwanda or Congo;
Waterproof hiking boots. Strong and sturdy shoes are a must-have on any gorilla safari in Uganda, Rwanda or D.R. Congo.
Long-sleeved shirts or trousers. Try to find a long trouser or blouse and should match with the vegetation of the area. Avoid bright colors because, they can scare or irritate mountain gorillas.
Gardening gloves. Gloves are essential for hand protection. You will be protecting your hands from itching plants in case you touch.
Rain jacket. Rains in areas like Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Volcanoes National Park are unpredictable. Nothing saves you in the jungles other than a rain jacket or poncho.
Sun glasses & hat. The sun heat during the dry season can be hot and you can only protect yourself if you have a hat and sunglasses.
High energy giving snacks. By nature of gorilla adventure, you will be involved in a hike lasting for 2-6 hours, less or more. This can be exhausting and you can keep fit throughout when you have some bites -high energy giving snacks and bottled water.
Cameras & extra batteries. Photography is a must-do on all African safaris, with gorilla tours inclusive. Get a good camera and it should be free of the flashlight, but don’t forget to carry additional battery.
Best time to go gorilla trekking in Africa.
Gorilla trekking is open all year-round regardless of the gorilla safari destination. But the less stressing and ideal time to visit Uganda or Rwanda for actual trekking of mountain gorillas is during the dry season or months of the year.
People can plan their gorilla tours falling within the two dry seasons; from June, July to September, or December to February. Gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda or Congo can still be visited during the wet or rainy season – March to May/October, November.