Have you always dreamed of seeing some of the world’s rarest animals in the wild? If you love discovering uncharted land, hiking through dense foliage, and coming face to face with wildlife, then gorilla trekking through Uganda should be at the top of your bucket list. But what should you pack for such a life-changing trip? We’ll tell you…
Long sleeved shirts and long pants
Gorilla trekking through the Ugandan jungle is not for the faint of heart, and it doesn’t quite resemble the quintessential African safari. You will embark on a journey to search for these great beings in their natural habitat — that means coming across spiky leaves, biting bugs, sharp trunks, and uneven ground. By wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, you can avoid scratching up your skin as you hike. This will also keep you warm and dry, as the weather can be temperamental in the jungle.
Waterproof, sturdy hiking boots
To fully prepare for the hike (and the rain!), make sure to pack sturdy, water-tight hiking boots. These protect your feet, keep you supported, and ensure that your toes are warm throughout the day. You can pick these up at any sporting goods store or order them online. Just make sure not to show up in sandals, open-toed shoes, or shoes without a proper sole! Nothing ruins a day of exploring like sore, cold, blistered feet.
Going along with that, make sure you pack thick, cotton socks. These will prevent blisters, and if you bring long socks, will keep your ankles protected from the bites of the jungle bugs! Pack an extra pair in your bag that you take on the trek with you, just in case the ones you’re wearing get wet or aren’t thick enough.
You might be thinking: why would I need gardener’s gloves on vacation? Especially when I’m just hiking? Well, for a few reasons. One, they serve the same purpose as the socks and protect your hands and wrists from the bugs and cold. But two, they also have the proper grip to help you grasp onto trees and hiking poles. It may get slippery, especially if it’s raining, and these gloves allow you to grab your surroundings without worrying about stabbing your hand.
Hat (rain and sun protection)
What’s a hike without a hat? Just like the rain will surprise you, so will the sun. One minute, you’re buried in dense foliage surrounded by cold mist, and the next you step out into a clearing with the sun beating down. Remember, it is still African sun, and your skin is still likely to get burned! So wear a hat to protect from Mother Nature. Also, they’ll look very cute in the pictures you get with the mountain gorillas.
Want an extra layer of protection against the biting bugs? Bring some insect spray! If you know that the little buggers love you back home, the Ugandan jungle will be no exception. Spray your clothes, shoes, pack, and hair, and if you’d like, you can bring it along on the hike. Make sure that the spray you are using is environmentally friendly, though, so that when you reapply during your trek you won’t be damaging the fragile ecosystem that surrounds you.
Hopefully, your trek will bring you close enough to the gorillas that you can look at them in their eyes, taking in every detail of the endangered species and connecting on an unbelievable level. Some gorillas, though, will understandably keep their distance. You will also encounter dozens of bird species, monkeys, snakes, and other wildlife throughout your trek. If you have binoculars, you won’t have to squint up at the treeline or strain to find the animal camouflaged in the foliage. Binoculars are priceless on a trek in Uganda.
Some people will go on vacation with little more than their semi-charged phone, while others pack drones, zoom lenses, and tripods. However you travel, I’m sure you will want to capture at least one of the gorillas, and maybe get a snap with yourself in the frame. Because you don’t know how long your trek will be each day (sometimes it takes an hour to find a family of gorillas, and sometimes it could take five), be sure to include extra batteries in your pack.
Thicker jacket for higher altitudes and cold nights
Again, the Ugandan jungle may give you a run for your money with its weather and temperature changes. It would be smart to tightly pack a thick jacket in the bottom of your trekking bag, because as you hike higher into the jungle or later into the evening, temperatures will drop. They could reach around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so this will seem like a warm hug by the fire if you’ve thought ahead.
Make sure to ask your guides about this tip, but some suggest bringing along snacks. If you’ve been trekking for four hours, you may get peckish. We suggest granola or protein bars, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, or a sandwich. Be careful not to pack your food in plastic bags though, as the plastic bag ban in both Uganda and Rwanda is very strict. Fold your snacks in napkins, reusable bags, or use its original packaging to avoid this issue. Plus, wouldn’t it feel wrong to bring non-biodegradable, non-recyclable plastic into one of the Earth’s most untouched ecosystems?
Biodegradable toilet paper
On the topic of biodegradable, this last packing item may be a little difficult to stomach but is vital. Unless you want to do as the gorillas do, please make sure to pack some biodegradable toilet paper. You don’t need a whole roll, but you also don’t want to be stuck in the jungle and have a little emergency. By using toilet paper that dissolves back into the Earth, you don’t have to guess that the leaves around you are safe to the touch, and you don’t have to risk placing something in the jungle that will stay there for years after you’ve gone. Makes sense, right?
Are your bags packed? Gorilla trekking through Uganda is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and if you’re lucky to come into contact with a mountain gorilla, it is a moment in time you’ll never forget. Are you ready to book your trip? Check out our brand-new expedition, the Uganda Gorilla Trek! And if you’d like to see what the rest of the country has to offer, here is our Uganda Expedition. Thanks for reading!
Xoxo, Grace Poulos
Follow her adventures on Instagram!