Rain jacket, double socks, boots, and lots of water – here is the ultimate guide on what you need to pack and wear for gorilla trekking tours in East and Central Africa.
Going on a gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda, or the Democratic Republic of Congo is not a walk in the park. The climate is humid and hot, as well half of the plants and small animals around can bite, scratch, or poison your skin.
It is an adventure of a lifetime. Still, it is an adventure that involves going deep into the rainforest and getting ready for everything ahead. From scrambling over trees and rocks to cutting through vines with a machete, this is an experience to remember and be better prepared before.
Packing light and efficient
I have to confess. It took me several tours to master my packing list for a gorilla trekking in Africa. I took too many unnecessary things on my first trip and left a couple of essential items. On the second trek, I took way less than what I needed, and for the third and final trip, I was finally comfortable at all times.
Additionally, I was surprised to see several couples wearing designer clothes and fancy hats on the trip. They looked like actors in one Indiana Jones or The Mummy, which could look nice on your Instagram Stories. However, after a four-hour hike into the jungle, I can tell you that leather vests and suspenders are two of the few accessories you will need.
What to wear during a gorilla trekking
Like any other medium-hard trek around the world, keep it light and simple. Wear only what is essential for the trip and carry anything you might need for an emergency.
Waterproof hiking boots are a must, and being fully covered is key to surviving in these tropical conditions. Yes, it seems obvious to wear a t-shirt and shorts with the hot temperature. Unfortunately, everything in the forest will scratch you, and the less your skin is exposed, the more comfortable you will feel.
Additionally, wearing two pairs of long thick socks can save you from time to time. Fire ants roam everywhere in the jungle, and once you step in the wrong place, they will crawl into your foot and enter your shoes.
I met a guy wearing short socks and tight pants during the gorilla trekking. Multiple times he was extremely uncomfortable because of the fire ants or poison ivy touching his skin.
Do not wear glasses during the gorilla trekking. Your glasses will be foggy half of the walk and while spending time with the gorillas (because of the mask you have to wear). I made that mistake during my first trek, and it was the most uncomfortable part of the whole experience. Wear contact lenses at all times, and bring your sunglasses if you need them.
Clothing packing list for gorilla trekking
- Long-sleeve shirt or a regular shirt
- An extra-long-sleeve shirt in case of heavy rain
- Long trousers (hiking trousers are a plus)
- Waterproof hiking boots
- Two pairs of socks that you wear at the same time
- A light rain jacket
- Headband or hair ties (in case you have long hair)
Other optional accessories are:
- A hat (however, the jungles of Uganda and Rwanda are pretty deep, and you will be barely under the sun)
- A sweater in case it’s cold
- Gloves for protecting your hands against thorns or poison ivy
NOTE: It is also recommended to wear khaki or dark clothing colors. You will be able to blend better with the natural environment and won’t scare the gorillas.
What to carry during a gorilla trekking
Now that you have the proper clothing, it is essential to know what you need to carry.
Lasting anything between two hours to seven hours, enough water and food are essentials for your gorilla trekking. But don’t worry. Your guide will remind you at all times.
What your guide will probably forget to tell you is to bring some mosquito repellent, sun cream, a handkerchief to clean your sweat, and a first aid kit.
Here is a complete list of everything that you need in your backpack during a gorilla trekking:
- At least 2 liters of water
- A light lunch box (you will be only able to eat once at a designated site)
- A basic first aid kit (painkillers, diarrhea tablets, band-aids)
- One handkerchief
- Sun cream and mosquito repellent
- Power bank
Read more: Which are the best national parks in Uganda
In case you are bringing a professional camera to take photographs of the gorillas, this is my recommendation as a professional photographer.
- One medium-range lens (50-80 mm)
- One ultra-telephoto lens (150-600 mm) – this was my most used lens during the trek
- 2-3 additional batteries
- Power bank with an adapter to charge batteries in case they run out of energy
Additional accessories like tripods, timers, filters, and raining coats won’t be necessary.
Drones are forbidden in most national parks in Africa, and flying a drone without proper authorization can lead to very hefty fines.
Read more: How to plan a gorilla trekking in Uganda