Packing Tips for Gorilla Trekking

The biggest question for a Gorilla Trekking trip is … What do I bring?

While much of what you’ll want to have with you is on our safari packing list, there are some special considerations that we have included here when preparing for your gorilla trek. 

Here’s our list of what to bring and a little bit about what to expect. From there, you’ll be able to determine what is important to you to keep you comfortable.

Hiking boots
Gorilla trekking involves trekking/hiking and sometimes walking long distances in search for gorillas. Due to the nature of the forest terrain, combined with the high altitude, you need light weight hiking boots to help you trek in sometime steep and muddy environments. Be sure these boots are broken in well before your travels! Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with blisters which, quite frankly, can be such a buzz kill! If you are prone to blisters, do what you can to take preventative measures! Large bandages and well cushioned socks.

Your boots may get wet – like, the soggy kind-of-wet! Some folks will bring two pairs of hiking footwear so that while one pair dries, they can wear the other. This depends on how many treks you decide to do on your trip.

A pair of sandals when you are not trekking, are ideal.

Gaitors
When you are getting ready for your trek, you will want to tuck the end of your pants into your socks. It’s nice if you have high socks too! Trust us on this one … There are many different types of ants in the rainforest and some do bite! We know it may look a bit on the goofy side but, just do it. You will thank us later when you witness another fellow trekker having to drop their drawers because while they were mesmerized by the gorillas and then ants found their way up their pants. It is at that point where you can relate to the saying “Got ants in your pants?”! If you get some gaitors, you can cover up the slightly goofy look 😉

Gardening gloves
You will definitely appreciate having packed those pair of lightweight gardening gloves when you are on your trek! As you move through the rainforest, remember that it can get slippery and sometimes you need to hold on to some plants or trees as you go. These gloves will protect you from nettles and other items that may scratch your hands.

Rain jacket and fleece
Mountain gorillas live on the slopes in the tropical rainforest and, as such, rain is received through out the whole year. You can never tell when it is going to rain so you need a rain jacket or a fleece for this purpose. Many clients prefer travelling in the traditionally drier months of June, July, August and beginning of September. Try to avoid the rainy seasons of March, April and May. However, with global climatic changes, one needs to prepare for any eventualities no matter if you are traveling within those ‘drier’ months.

Long-sleeved shirts and full-length trousers
It is best that you wear thick, long trousers and a long sleeved top during your gorilla trek to protect you against those pesky (and sometimes vicious!) stinging nettles, plants and bush thorns. It is often cold when you set out, so start out with a sweatshirt or jerseys which also help protect against nettles. Whatever clothes you wear to go tracking will likely get very dirty as you slip and slide in the mud. So if you’ve already been on a hike … put on those already muddied clothes! You might as well!

Energy-giving snacks
Gorilla trekking can take anywhere from 30 minutes to eight or so hours, which is why a certain level of fitness is required.  

Before departing from your lodge, you are given your packed lunch and lots of drinking water as you never know what time you will return to the lodge. Stay hydrated! We always travel with re-hydrate packets to put in our water. They come in very handy!

While you will have plenty to eat in your packed lunch, you may want to bring along some of your favourite energy giving snacks from home as supplements.

Cameras and extra batteries
Photography is an important component of your safari – be sure that you have your camera ready! Charge your batteries to 100% prior to the trek and, if necessary, carry extra batteries (depending on whether you are highly enthusiastic photographer or your camera battery doesn’t hold it’s charge very well). Just know that you will end up taking a ton of photographs in the time you will have with the gorillas. It is important that you make sure you switch off your flash while taking photos of the gorillas. A water proof bag is also important to protect your camera equipment from the rain.

Pair of binoculars
Don’t forget that you are on safari and it is so nice to have clear views of wildlife that may catch your eye. Bwindi Impenetrable National park is home to over 350 birds, chimpanzees, black and white colubus monkeys among other primates, forest elephants and buffalo. If you’ll be visiting this park, you’ll want a chance to spot some of these species and the binoculars will come in handy.

Of course … A Backpack!
Because you’ll need something to put all of your gear into! Before the end of the trip, your backpack will become an appendage.

Porters for your gorilla trek
This is optional … and it depends on what you feel like doing. Gorilla trekking can be strenuous and sometime you will need someone to give you a push or a hand up along the way to the gorillas. These porters will join you for a fee however, it is totally worth it! Keep in mind that these porters are typically students either on their school holiday or, it is possible they have been chased out of school due to not being able to pay for school fees. By hiring a porter, know that you will have contributed a little to local community development and have made someone’s day a little brighter 🙂

Favorite Travel Product- 12 oz. Thermos Cup

This goes with me on every jaunt, especially morning game drives!  A perfect travel product, its durable, the right size, spill-proof, and keep my morning tea HOT.  I love it!


 

 

My “on the go”… office!

Hopefully you can leave your work at home when you go on travel adventures but, for those who can’t, we recommend this practical and hardy, yet lightweight bag: Eagle Creek’s Straight Up Business Brief RFID.

With different sections for electronics, paperwork, and travel accessories, it keeps items organized and provides padding where it’s needed without bulk. It can be carried over the shoulder, as a backpack or strapped onto a wheeled bag.

I’ve dragged it to many countries on many an adventure, through all kinds of conditions and terrain. It’s done a great job protecting my electronics and it holds up great.  

 

Great Luggage for Safaris

The perfect solution to those light aircraft luggage restrictions

Load Hauler Expandable

If your safari includes traveling between camps in light aircraft, you’ll need to use luggage that works within the airlines’ requirements.  The luggage compartments of these planes are limited in space and thus the need to have soft sided luggage. While some of the companies will let us get by with our beloved 22″ bags with 3 soft sides, most require that the bags be soft-sided all around and no wheels.  When wheels aren’t allowed, I’ve found Eagle Creek’s Load Hauler to be the perfect solution.  It offers the space of a duffel while providing the option of carrying it as backpack which lightens the load while traveling through airports.

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What to Wear on Safari

We recommend packing light, wearing khaki & neutral tones  
Packing
  • Khaki and neutral tones allow us to blend in with the landscape. They’re easy to mix and match (so we pack less) and if we get dusty it doesn’t show
  • Khaki/beige shorts and shirts are also deal as they are least likely to attract the animal’s attention … and least likely to need washing.
  • We suggest comfortable clothes that are cool, but that can be layered to keep us warm in the evening or for early morning wildlife viewing. Light weight shirts and fleece pullovers are ideal. Zip off pants that turn into shorts take up less space.
  • Pack light for your trip; laundry is complimentary at most safari lodges and camps.
  • Do not bring camouflage clothing as it is not considered a fashion statement in Africa… camo might draw unwanted attention at airports or border crossings.
  • Packing with layers in mind is important. To layer while also packing light, use clothing items made with lightweight, quick-dry, versatile fabrics. They are worth the investment!
  • If you’re spending time in a large city, you might pack one “smart casual” outfit.
  • In respecting the local cultures, it is recommended that women wear a skirt or shorts that cover their knees when visiting local people in the rural area.

 

Check out our super handy Safari Packing Checklist!

Kaingo Camp – One of Our Favorite Places

Kaingo Camp 

South Luangwa, Zambia

We are fans of Kaingo Camp for many reasons. What sets Kaingo apart from other camps is their commitment to providing clients with an outstanding game viewing experience. That is their focus and they do it really well. With so few safari camps owner run these days, and so many camps imitating each other in style, appearance and offerings, Kaingo is like a breath of fresh air. It operates with a style completely it’s own…one that is super relaxed, friendly, informative, inviting and invigorating all at once. Owners Derek and Jules are always about, making the atmosphere very informal and welcoming. They have hand-picked guides who are engaging and knowledgeable with 3 game outings daily! They will even organize for you to sleep-out at their elephant hide (pictured above).

In between game drives and guided walks, you can take advantage of the various hides which have been set up in prolific locations and are especially appealing to novice or advanced photographers. Add to this excellent cuisine, comfy accommodations and the perfect location and you have a safari camp which really stands apart from the rest in one of Zambia’s most pristine national parks.

Our favorite things about Kaingo:

  • One of the few owner run camps remaining in South Luangwa which is such a treat
  • Owners Derek and Jules are very hands-on and have created a team passionate about the bush and making it special for all visitors
  • Relaxed, informal, friendly atmosphere while providing all the comforts one could want
  • Set in an outstanding, game rich area
  • Great guides who are tuned into needs of photographers
  • And… they are serious about their game viewing: offering 3 outings a day (rather than two which is customary of most camps) and have various hides that one can visit to observe behavior and take photos

 

Here’s what a recent client had to say about her stay at Kaingo:

“I loved Kaingo! It has the perfect balance of wildlife, comfortable accommodations, fantastic guides, delicious (and plentiful!) food, and the most gracious hosts you’ll find – in the bush or out.” KH

Check out this video and click on the slideshow below.

What is the best time of the year to go on safari in Southern Africa? (hint: when you are available to go!)

IMG_5911 copyWe love going on safari. We love sending clients on safari. Many people mistakenly think there is a good time or a bad time of year to visit the bush. Not so! Each season – each month – offers surprises and unique opportunities depending on your priorities and interests.
 
For example, the dry season (July-Aug-Sep-Oct) offers:

  • IMG_1192 copygreater quantity of wildlife
  • drier climate
  • thinner & more open bush (animals easier to spot)
  • incredible sunsets
  • cooler temperatures in July & August
  • fewer water sources = higher concentrations of animals
  • more intense wildlife viewing
  •  
    Downside: high demand, premium prices, wind (August), high temps (Oct/Nov), parks & airports are busier, wildlife can be stressed searching for water
     
    In comparison, the green season (Dec-Jan-Feb-Mar) offers:

  • Chongwe River Houselush, green vegetation
  • great birding
  • quieter camps = more exclusivity
  • special deals
  • great photographic opportunities
  • fewer people
  • lots of animals having babies
  • warmer temps
  • longer days
  •  
    Downside: afternoon rains, can be buggy/more mosquitoes, muddy roads and trails
     
    The shoulder months are exciting as well! It all depends on good guides, your priorities, and having realistic expectations about what you will see and experience. Expect less, be surprised by more. What is important to you? Quantity of wildlife? Quality of experience? Photographic opportunities? For example, several of our clients who have visited Africa on multiple occasions prefer to go on safari in May. Often you can get shoulder season rates, the rains have ended, the animals are getting easier to find and the parks still aren’t crowded. Through our Safari Planner, we help you to prioritize and focus on what you want to get out of the safari experience. For us, the most important thing is to increase your understanding and match your expectations with reality. This is where Global Sojourns really excels.

    Tips for traveling as a multi-generational family

    Lucas family 004-2-1 copy

    The Lucas Family

    “Thank you, thank you, thank you. The experience was all we had hoped for. Awesome, as our grand kids kept telling s. The camps and lodges you recommended were just the right fit and the right mix. 

    Both sets of camp managers were accommodating and flexible. They arranged for soccer games with the staff and set up a visit to a nearby village. Everyone was warm and friendly. The wildlife and landscapes were spectacular.

    All in all, it was just the kind of experience and exposure that Midge and I were hoping for. Thanks again for making it all happen.”  Larry and Midge Lucas (Tanzania, June 2014)

    This past June, Pete and Midge Lucas took their entire family on a safari vacation to Tanzania. Stops included Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti, where the family witnessed an actual crossing (You can’t plan that!).

    Pete and Midge shared their thoughts on what made traveling as a multi-generational family a success:

    • Everyone had a sense of adventure & was healthy
    • Waiting until the grandkids were old enough to appreciate going on safari
    • Picking a time of year that didn’t conflict with school
    • Giving adults enough lead time to make vacation arrangements with work
    • Planning early (at least a year in advance)
    • Choosing camps that fit the entire family; in some places, they were the only guests
    • Remembering that this was also a vacation for each family unit. They appreciated that we chose camps where they had total flexibility to divide up and do different activities individually, i.e. bush walking, game drives, sleeping in, playing soccer, local visits
    • Rooming all the kids together

     

    Interested in a multi-generational trip? Contact us!

    What size is the right size?

    6ebd4168-b01e-4f6c-9bd0-2ee7e964f485Strictly enforced luggage restrictions on light air transfers (between safari camps) can be confusing and frustrating for travelers. So many rules! We always recommend packing light, layering your clothes, and bringing carry on only. You don’t need much. Remember, most camps will do your laundry daily!

    Here is the bag that takes us to the most remote corners of Southern and East Africa: the Eagle Creek “No Matter What” duffel.

    Order here from REI. There are various styles and colors to choose from – just make sure it’s no bigger than 22″!

    Platypus Platy Bottle

     

    Platypus Platy Bottle

    The taste-free Platypus Platy™ bottle is a great option for your world adventures.
    • Perfect for long flights and transfers
    • Fill up before boarding and stay hydrated for your entire trip
    • Holds 70 fl. oz
    • 100% BPA free
    • Compact and flexible design can be flattened when empty and rolled up
    • Stands upright when full
    • Polypropylene screw cap allows quick and easy drinking
    • Best part is it costs less than $13!
    • Order online from  REI