2021 Gorilla Safari Preparation Tips
How To Prepare For A Gorilla Trekking Safari In Africa
Like any other wildlife experience, gorilla trekking safari requires timely and proper planning. Gorilla safari planning entails choosing which gorilla park to visit when to visit, booking gorilla permits, and filling your travel bag with the right attire. Karibu East Africa gives you tips on how to prepare for a gorilla safari in Africa. These include:
Decide on where you want to go for gorilla trekking
Firstly, you should decide on which country you want to visit for gorilla trekking. Is it in Uganda, Rwanda, or the Democratic Republic of Congo? Gorilla trekking is done in one of the three countries. Whereas gorillas are the same, each country gives you a different gorilla trekking experience. Some travelers who have enough time and money have done gorilla treks in different parks to compare the experiences. For instance, a 5-day gorilla trek in Uganda gives you a chance to go gorilla trekking in both Uganda and Rwanda, or combine gorilla trekking in Bwindi with wildlife viewing in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Uganda has the highest number of mountain gorillas habituated in 18 gorilla families. More so, gorilla trekking in Uganda takes place in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Rwanda gorillas live in Volcanoes National Park while Congo gorillas dwell in Virunga National Park.
Book and reserve your gorilla permit
Having decided where you want to trek gorillas from, go ahead and book gorilla permits. Gorilla permit bookings call for a 30% deposit as the booking fee to secure and reserve the permit. Rwanda offers the most expensive gorilla tours @$1500 per gorilla permit while a gorilla permit in Congo costs $450. In Uganda, gorilla permit prices vary. Foreign non-residents pay $700, foreign residents pay $600 while East African citizens pay UGX 250,000. Mountain gorilla permit bookings can be done directly with respective conservation bodies, namely, Uganda Wildlife Authority in Uganda, Rwanda Development Board in Rwanda, and the Institute Congolais Pour la Conservation de la Nature in Congo. Alternatively, you can book through credible tour companies such as African Jungle Adventures, 4×4 Uganda, and Rwanda Gorilla Safaris among others and they will do the rest for you. Full payment for the gorilla permits is required 90 days to the trekking date. A traveler who fails to pay full gorilla permit costs will lose the permit and the deposit. In other words, a deposit on a gorilla permit is non-refundable in all gorilla regions.
Book the Accommodation services
Endeavor to book suitable accommodation services to ensure safety and comfort on your gorilla safari in Africa. Your travel operator will give you different options of hotels/lodges in the national park who choose to trek gorillas in. Accommodation is categorized into Budget / basic, midrange / deluxe and luxury / superior. The choice of which accommodation to take is upon the tourist. Also, remember to choose a lodge/hotel located a short distance from the park headquarters. This is to avoid driving long hours to and from trekking gorillas.
Do Physical Exercises
Also, travelers planning a gorilla safari are advised to do physical exercises to ensure fitness. Hiking up and downhill in the jungle forest of Bwindi, Volcanoes, Mgahinga and Virunga National Parks is not for the unfit and faint-hearted. Unfit travelers have often found difficulties in reaching gorillas.
Among the recommended physical exercises include running, jogging, hiking, and walking for a long. Also, travelers are reminded to disclose their physical fitness to the park rangers so as to get a suitable gorilla family. Gorilla treks are categorized into short, medium, and longer depending on the ease and difficulty of finding them. The unfit travelers are normally given short gorilla treks while the young, fit and energetic are given long treks.
Dress Right for the Jungle
Ensure to carry the right attire for the jungle. YES, dressing right for the jungle guarantees you comfortable and safe gorilla trekking. You do not require a suit but rather the right outfit. Among the things you should carry for gorilla trekking include:
- Waterproof and light hiking boots/shoes. These ease your movements in the muddy, slippery forests. Never bring sandals and open shoes for gorilla trekking.
- Leather gardening gloves to protect your hands from touching dirty surfaces and also grabbing thorny bushes and tree trunks, which can hurt you.
- Rain jackets are a must-have for anyone visiting gorillas. Despite the season, remember to carry your rain jacket. Forest weather is unpredictable and it can fall any time of the day regardless of the season.
- Insect repellants to avoid poisonous insect bites.
- Long pants tucked into stockings. Long pants protect your legs from scratches and insect bites.
- Long-sleeved shirts/blouses to protect your arms.
- Hat and sunglasses to protect your head and eyes from direct sun.
- Warm sweaters and scarf to deal with cold nights in the jungle forests. It normally gets very cold at night.
Check with your Doctor
Before setting off from your country, please with your medical doctor to confirm you are fine and safe to travel. Yellow fever vaccination is required in all gorilla countries and you must have it. If you have allergies and any other kind of sickness, carry emergency medication.
In general, you ought to prepare and plan for your gorilla safari in advance to avoid any disappointments.