Is Gorilla Trekking in Uganda difficult?
Gorilla trekking in Uganda requires an adequate level of physical fitness, but most healthy individuals should be more than up to the challenge.
You will be walking at an altitude of 2500-3000m, meaning that the air will be thinner and the demands on the lungs greater. In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the primary gorilla trekking destination in Uganda, the terrain is mountainous and the vegetation is thick, so hiking here requires some stamina.
It's impossible to say how long your trek will be. Some groups make contact within 45 minutes, others can take 6 hours or more before finding a habituated group. If you're interested in gorilla trekking, you should be prepared to work for it.
If you book sufficiently in advance it is possible to arrange porters, sedan chairs and hiking sticks, as well as to join groups that are doing easier and shorter treks. Having porters carry a sedan chair will add to the cost of the trek, but can be a really helpful aid for those who need it.
Those who are worried about the difficulty of the terrain should also opt to go trekking in the dry season, which runs from June to September and December to February, as the ground can become very muddy during the wet season. That said, keen photographers should note that rain clears away the dust in the air, which makes for better visibility and better photos of the gorillas.
Taking part in the gorilla habituation experience, where you can watch the gorillas for four hours instead of one, is often more physically demanding than the standard gorilla treks. Gorillas who are still being habituated can take longer to track down, as they are shyer and more wary of human contact.
The amount of time spent on the gorilla trek may also vary a lot from day to day, depending on where the gorillas have settled, as well as on how many clues they've left behind. The amount of time spent trekking could be anything from 30 minutes to several hours.
Even though this trek can be tiring, it is perhaps all the more rewarding for it: catching a glimpse of a wild gorilla deep in the forests of Bwindi feels particularly good when you have worked hard for it! The challenges of the trek are easier to manage if you come well-prepared. Good hiking boots, comfortable clothing, a rain jacket, a hat, gloves, insect repellents and sunglasses are all recommended, as is bringing plenty of water and some healthy, energising snacks.
It is also a good idea to prepare yourself by doing some trekking and other forms of cardio exercise before coming out to Uganda. If you build up your fitness, then the challenges of the gorilla trek will be much easier to handle.
All things considered, while gorilla trekking is no walk in the park, it is no Mount Kilimanjaro either.
Seeing these animals up close is an exhilarating and unforgettable experience: the somewhat challenging trekking through a beautiful, biodiverse landscape is one of the best parts of the experience.
Ready to meet the gorillas?
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