What to pack for a Gorilla Trekking Safari?
Knowing the right items to pack for a gorilla trekking expedition has never been an easy task as you are torn between personal stuff and the recommended items you think are suitable for the safari. This article will help you know the perfect stuff not to miss on your packing list for a wonderful gorilla trekking safari. Before you start packing for the safari you have to take note of the two most important things that is;
Have a valid passport and visa
A valid passport and tourism visa is the only way you can gain access to Uganda, all travelers should possess a valid passport and visa because they not only grant them access to the country but also help the Uganda Wildlife Authority confirm the status price of gorilla permits in which tourists pay since gorilla permits vary from foreign residents to foreign non-residents and East African Citizens. For foreign resident tourists, you should have a valid working permit to qualify for the foreign resident permit. For East African community residents including the Ugandans, Rwandese, Kenyans, Tanzanians and Burundians must have a valid National Identification card.
Gorilla trekking permit; Mountain gorilla trekking permit is an ATM-like card issued by Uganda wildlife Authority to visitors who paid for the gorilla trekking. Possessing a gorilla permit is the way you will be allowed to participate in the mountain gorilla trekking activity. Foreign non-residents pay USD700 for a gorilla permit. Foreign residents pay USD500 and USD68 for East African citizens. All gorilla permits are purchased from the Uganda Wildlife Authority even if you book your permits through a tour agent or tour operator/company.
NOTE: it is advisable to purchase your gorilla permit 5 months prior to your trekking date to avoid disappointments as gorilla permits are quickly sold out.
The following are the essential items for a gorilla trekking safari
- Waterproof day pack: You are required to have a waterproof bag pack which will contain most of your valuable stuff, the concept of the bag being waterproof is to prevent your stuff from getting wet while on the safari, Bwindi Impenetrable national park is a rainforest and the weather there changes any time of the day.
- Light strong waterproof hiking shoes: While on a mountain gorilla trekking safari, it is very important to carry light well fitted strong comfortable hiking shoes, trails followed while searching for mountain gorillas usually are wet, muddy and slippery because of the rugged trained and constant rainfall. To navigate through these trails safely you need strong hiking shoes.
- Pair of stockings: Packing a comfortable cotton pair of stockings is very important. Hiking is an activity that drags on for a full day meaning you have to wear your hiking shoes either for a full day or half a day depending on the gorilla family you are trekking. Wearing shoes the whole day will cause bruises on your feet which can only be solved by wearing your hiking shoes with a stocking in it.
- Waterproof rain jacket: Rain is the most unpredictable thing that you always expect to happen on the mountain gorilla trekking safari, the reason being mountain gorillas are found in densely forested areas receiving rainfall throughout the year. That is why you are required to carry a waterproof rain jacket so as not to get wet while in the deep forests of Bwindi impenetrable national park or Mgahinga gorilla national park.
- Long sleeved shirts or blouses: While on a gorilla safari, long sleeved shirts, blouses, and long trousers are very important, they protect from scratches from thorny plants and bites from insects. And also this type of clothing keeps you a bit warm in the freezing high altitudes.
- Garden gloves: Garden gloves are very necessary on a mountain gorilla trekking safari. While tracking mountain gorillas, you pass through various thick vegetation including thorny and scratching plants. Accidentally your hands might touch any of these plants thus causing a wound or irritation that is why you have to cover your hands with the gloves.
- Energy giving a snack and refreshing mineral water: Trekking through rugged terrain is not an easy task as it is tiring which calls for a need of refreshments and energy giving snacks to take you to throw the activity, many energy giving snack are sold in supermarkets at a reasonable price.
- First aid box: Emergencies and accidents happen while trekking, for example, a thorn leaf may cut your skin or get a headache or fever thus the need to carry a first aid box with you. A first aid box must have the following items, anti-malarial drugs, and anti-diarrhea drugs, antiseptic cream, cold medication, allergy remedy, painkillers, bandages and liniment for muscle strains that you might get due to hiking.
- Toiletries and personal care items: On your gorilla trekking safari toiletries is a must carry items, this is so because at certain occurrences you might find out that you been offered products you do not use or even comparable with your skin and sometimes hotels do not offer them. Toiletries and personal care items include shavers, sanitary pads, lotions, toothbrushes, towels, hand sanitizers, wipes, deodorants and many more.
- Insect repellents: Mountain gorilla trekking involves navigating through deep forests and vegetation which are very much prone to biting insects most especially mosquitoes and tsetse flies, insect bites are painful, irritate your skin and cause diseases like malaria. To be on a safe side insect repellent should never miss on your packing list as it drives away the insects from your skin.
- Sun sunscreen lotion: Scorching sunlight is very much unavoidable on a gorilla trekking safari that is why you need a sunscreen lotion to save your beautiful skin from sunburn.
- Hut and sunglasses: Weather conditions are very unpredictable while on mountain gorilla trekking safari, though rain is very much expected, you should also expect too much sunlight at a given time of day that is why it is very helpful to carry a hut to shade you from scorching sunlight. Given that your walk through a jungle full of butterflies, small insects, there is a high risk of the insects falling into your eyes which is very frustrating and annoying. To save yourself from such incidences, a pair of glasses are the best item to carry with you.
- Camera and extra batteries: Pictures are always great evidence and remembrance for a great experience in the wilderness, while trekking in the land of mountain gorillas taking hundreds of beautiful pictures is very much unavoidable as pictures keep tonnes of memories. Since you will take a lot of pictures you should also carry extra batteries so as not to miss out on the adventure. Note: when taking pictures always turn off your flashlight as it agitates and scare the mountain gorillas.
- Pair of Binoculars: Trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park or mgahinga national park involves navigating through thick forest vegetation which is a hiding place for most of the wildlife species such as birds, mountain gorillas. Thus requiring a tourist to be in possession of a binocular which will help you spot animals form a distance while trekking it is not advisable to get close to the animals that is why binoculars are important.
- Extra pair of warm clothes: While looking for mountain gorillas in the deep forest getting dirty from mud and wet is very much expected, this calls for extra pair of clothes including shirts, trousers which you can change into after the safari.
- While in the jungle looking for mountain gorillas you need. A walking stick is to help you will your hiking into the rugged terrain of the jungle, hiking sticks act as support and they are rented from the park’s craft shops or headquarters.
A porter will help you carry your bag while on a safari, porters are got at the parker’s headquarters and are paid a reasonable amount of money.