Gorilla Trekking: Pack This!

We just returned from gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda. After reading countless blogs, reviews, articles (and anything else that resulted from Google searches), we crossed our fingers and packed what we deemed essential. What follows are the things we are most grateful to have packed.

    • Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat* (there are so many bugs and mosquitoes and leaves and trees and branches and things falling from the treetops, and this hat kept most of it off of my head and neck).
    • Wells Lamont Leather Gloves** (at some point you will find yourself protecting your face and body from plants/vines adorned with stinging nettles. You’ll also likely find yourself using your hands to keep from sliding during a descent, or you’ll grab tree branches and rocks to steady yourself as you ascend. These gloves came in handy).
    • FC ECO 4.1 GTX* mid-height lightweight hiking boot (for her). Keen Voyageur Mid* (for him). (During a gorilla trek, you not only cover uneven, inconsistent, unpredictable terrain, but you will likely cross streams, step in water buffalo and elephant dung, and step on things that might puncture the sole of a lesser shoe. These boots were expensive, but they were worth it.) Tip: Each of the lodges we stayed at offered a shoe-cleaning service. Rwanda’s Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge does it for free for all of their guests.  The Enganzi Game Lodge charged us 3,000 Ugandan Shillings (approximately $1 per pair).
    • Buff Merino Wool Tubular* (this is a light-weight, breathable layer that I wore around my neck in an effort to create more distance between me and the mosquitoes. Also, you’d be surprised by how many times somebody’s walking stick bends a tree branch forward until it returns to whack you in the head or neck. Abrasions are no big deal, but in certain parts of the world, a simple cut can be problematic.
    • Loose-fitting jeans (just about everyone I saw was wearing khaki-colored, breathable, convertible hiking pants. And I brought two pairs because this is what almost everyone seemed to recommend. However, in one traveler’s article, she suggested jeans. I wore jeans for both gorilla treks, and I could not have been happier. Others were complaining about the stinging nettles piercing their pants. But my jeans were too much for most of the nettles!). Tip: If you don’t want to wear jeans, consider doing what Michelle did: wear a second layer (under your pants) to protect from the nettles and anything else that might pierce such light fabric.
    • Backpack (porters can be hired to carry your backpack for $10-15, but I prefer to carry my own pack). You’ll likely need a backpack to store bottles of water, a snack or two, a water-proof jacket, camera/lenses, etc.
    • Water-proof jacket (the weather seems to change quickly in Rwanda and Uganda).
    • Canon PowerShot G3X (if you’re a photographer or a photo hobbyist, you likely have your own gear. However, if you’re looking for a lightweight camera with extraordinary zoom, consider this one. It did not disappoint). Here’s one of many photos we took with the G3X—from probably 10-15 meters. I think you’ll agree that it’s better than using an iPhone. WP 10

Aside from packing these things, consider treating your clothes/backpack/socks/shoes with Sawyer Permethrin Insect Repellent. We found it effective. Also, when you return to the lodge, you’ll be happy to have packed shampoo (we stayed in three lodges, and none of them had shampoo).

Hopefully this is helpful. And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

(The links in this post are not affiliate links. They are simply links to products that legitimately helped us.)

*We purchased this at REI.
**We purchased this at Costco.



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