How to be fit for Gorilla trekking
Trekking to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda can be a physically demanding activity. Therefore, being in good physical condition and adequately prepared for what’s involved will significantly improve your chances of success. If you are planning a gorilla safari then knowing How to be fit for gorilla trekking is important before you embark on your adventure. Although it’s often easy to find the gorilla group you’re tracking, you may sometimes have to hike for several hours. During the hike, you’ll be walking across uneven and sometimes slippery terrain, with frequent steep ups and downs, in a climate that you may not be familiar with. Better preparation and knowing How to be fit for gorilla trekking will guarantee you a success full gorilla safari.
How to be fit for gorilla trekking? If you’re someone who regularly hikes or hill walks, you should be okay. You only need to ensure that you have the right clothing and equipment to make your trek as easy as possible. For our elderly and senior clients, we recommend hiring porters to carry your equipment and sometimes yourself during a gorilla trekking safari. When booking a gorilla trek, porter fees will either be included in the trip price or you will be encouraged to pay a supplement for them. It’s worthwhile to hire porters as it’s a fraction of the cost of flights or gorilla trekking permits, and it directly benefits the local communities from which the porters are hired.
Porters are helpful as they ensure that you can trek unencumbered, which is particularly useful if you’re carrying photography gear. They’ll also assist you up and down slopes and share stories on the trail. In many cases, they are former poachers who now earn a living from wildlife tourism.
If you have limited or no mobility, you can still go gorilla trekking in Rwanda or Uganda on one of our accessible gorilla trekking vacations. Chairs can be hired, which will be carried by teams of porters. Although it makes the trek more expensive, it’s worth it.
Best tips for fitness before gorilla trekking safaris – How to be fit for gorilla trekking
To prepare for gorilla trekking, it’s important to focus on exercises that will help you build the necessary endurance, strength, and flexibility required for hiking through challenging terrain.
1. Cardiovascular exercise: Engage in activities such as hiking, running, or using the stair climber to build endurance and stamina. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous cardiovascular activity on most days of the week.
2. Strength training: Focus on exercises that target the legs, core, and upper body to build strength for navigating uneven and sometimes steep terrain. Incorporate exercises such as lunges, squats, step-ups, and push-ups into your routine.
3. Flexibility and balance: Practice yoga or stretching exercises to improve flexibility and balance, which will be beneficial when navigating through the forest and over obstacles. Include stretches for the hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors to improve your range of motion.
4. Uphill training: If possible, incorporate uphill hiking or incline treadmill walking into your routine to simulate the uphill climbs you may encounter during the trek.
5. Pack training: As part of your preparation, consider practicing hiking with a daypack to simulate the weight you’ll be carrying during the trek. This can help condition your body for the physical demands of carrying gear and water.
How Hard is gorilla trekking?
Gorilla trekking is not as difficult as trekking in the Himalayas, but it is not an easy task either. Stamina is more important than speed when it comes to this activity. It is not a race, as
you only get an hour with the gorillas, regardless of how early you arrive. Therefore, there is no need to rush. The reason behind this is that research shows that exposure to humans for more than an hour can cause distress to the gorillas, and it also increases the risk of spreading transmittable illnesses.
How hard is gorilla trekking in Rwanda?
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is done in Volcanoes National Park which is located within the Virunga Area. The Virunga Area in Rwanda is made up of volcanoes, some of which are active and some are extinct, covered in bamboo and evergreen forests. These mountains provide an ideal habitat for gorillas, but trekking to see them is not an easy task. According to our partners, it’s best to assume that the trek could take anywhere between one to five hours.
However, gorilla treks in Rwanda are comparatively easier than in Uganda. This is because most of the habituated groups of gorillas are located about two hours of the trailhead, and the trails are more open and gentle in comparison to those in Uganda. Trekking gorillas in Rwanda is much easier and more accessible compared to Uganda.
How hard is gorilla trekking in Uganda?
Uganda’s major gorilla trekking destinations are impenetrable and also located far away from the country’s capital. To see the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park gorillas, you need to trek through dense rainforests, which can be arduous to trek through. The trails can also be rugged and steep, and when it’s been raining, it becomes very challenging. At this point, the sight of a porter’s arm reaching to help you up difficult bits can be very welcome during your gorilla safari.
It is possible to manage a gorilla trek in Uganda, similar to how it can be done in Rwanda, if you are in reasonable physical condition. There are very few cases where people have been
unable to complete the trek. A few weekends of hillwalking before the trip and a few hours on the treadmill at the gym should be sufficient. You should not underestimate the effort required, but it is not necessary to be in peak physical condition.
How long is a gorilla trek?
The Gorilla treks can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours or more depending on the location of the particular gorilla family that you are trekking. Usually, it is not easy to predict the exact amount of time you may take to allocate the gorilla family and thus making it impossible to provide a more specific estimate because gorillas move around independently and cannot be directed to be in a certain place at a certain time.
However, this should not create worries as your park rangers and guides track the gorillas every morning and report their location to the trekking groups. This makes the whole experience lest difficult although you will have to navigate the challenging terrain and thick vegetation. Each trekking group is assigned a gorilla family based on their fitness level, with the more physically fit individuals assigned to more challenging routes. If you’re concerned about your stamina, then you will be allocated to more near and easy to trek gorilla groups. You can also opt for a Rwanda gorilla safari, as it typically requires less trekking
What clothes should I pack for a gorilla trekking safari?
We recommend you consider a gorilla trek as a serious hike, so you’ll need good walking shoes or boots that are properly broken in beforehand. You should also wear lightweight but thick long trousers and shirts. Gloves are useful for grabbing branches to support yourself. We’d also recommend a set of collapsible walking poles.