5 Things to Know and Do Before Going on a Gorilla Trek

Mountain gorilla trekking is one of the interesting activities you will enjoy during safari in Africa, thus the critically endangered Giant Apes are undeniably the prime attractions that draw thousands of tourists to three exceptional African countries-Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, this adventurous activity is one of the physically demanding activities that involve hiking through the dense jungles of Volcanoes, Virunga, Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National Parks with only 900 individuals remaining. These interesting primates live in families that are headed by Alpha males known as silverbacks who are in charge of major decisions in the family such as where the family eats, solving daily conflicts, defense and daily movements.

It is always a once in a lifetime dream to encounter these exceptional primates but there are some important things you always have to do during gorilla trekking and these include;

Book for the activity in advance

Due to the high demand for gorilla trekking, intending trekkers are advised to book for gorilla permits at least 6 months in advance so as to avoid getting disappointed and thus failing to fulfill your lifetime dream. Each of the gorilla groups (families) within the mentioned National Parks occupies different home ranges (areas of different elevations) thus it is important to be honest with your level of physical fitness so that you are allocated to the preferred gorilla families.

Come fully prepared and equipped

Gorilla trekking is not like taking a leisure trip to Disney World but involves trekking through the dense tropical rainforests with thick undergrowth, ground insects such as red ants (especially with Bwindi Impenetrable National Park)  as well as thorny bushes thus you have to venture into the jungles fully prepared and well equipped. This includes carrying the right things such as gardening gloves, long sleeved shirts, long trousers, long sleeved shirts, lightweight rain jacket, warm sweater for the cold mornings and evenings, strong hiking boots, lightweight backpack, enough drinking water and snacks, walking stick, non-flash cameras and binoculars among others.

Tipping service providers      

Much as it is not always compulsory to tip service providers (waiters/waitresses, porters, driver guides, ranger guides and receptionists), it is a good practice to appreciate any good service offered and creates everlasting joy in their hearts. The little you offer can change someone’s life and help pay for their children’ school fees, medical bills and pay food thus improve their standard of living.

Follow the gorilla trekking guidelines

It is always important to follow the gorilla trekking guidelines to book because it is for your own good and that of the critically endangered giant Apes. These guidelines include maintaining a distance of 7 meters away from the mountain gorillas, avoiding loud noise when tracking or when with these animals, don’t visit them if you are sick with flue, cough and any other communicable diseases because mountain gorillas share up to 98.2% of their DNA with humans thus are vulnerable to those diseases, avoid eating or smoking while in the presence of mountain gorillas, don’t use flash cameras when taking photographs of these animals and only 8 persons are allowed to visit a gorilla family per day to avoid stressing them.

Hire porters

Intending gorilla trekkers are always advised to hire porters to help carry the backpack or offer support during hiking. This activity involves hiking through areas of higher elevations with rugged terrains and dense vegetation and because porters are always local community members who are familiar to those areas, hiking is easier for them and thus it will be for you too. Hiring porters is always a way of changing someone’s life because the money paid helps them support their families.