So you’ve made the decision to conquer unchartered jungle territory in the hopes of finding the giant silverback while going on a gorilla trekking safari. Packing your clothes for the trip requires some foresight and planning – it’s tricky to know what to wear when you’re traversing new territory! We’ve little doubt that you’re wondering “what should I wear for gorilla trekking?“.
Gorilla trekking is no walk in the park and it’s imperative you select the right gear for your trek. There are fire ants, pesky bugs, gnarled vegetation and prickly plants smothering the floor of the jungle. There a few regions within Rwanda and Uganda that are the go-to destinations for gorilla trekking, so climates might differ slightly. The jungle is not the same as the savannah and doesn’t suffer from extreme heat. The temperatures are quite moderate, but it does get rather wet. You don’t know how long you will be out in the rugged terrain in search of primates – it could be 2 hours or 6 hours, so it’s best you come prepared. Bringing a backpack is recommended – you have the option of having your own porter to carry your gear.
The main thing is to bring what you’re comfortable wearing – and if you don’t have anything you will need to invest in a bunch of technical gear to make your journey on foot into the tropics comfortable.
Don’t make the mistake of wearing a t-shirt or short sleeve shirt. Branches protrude from the lush vegetation and are often covered in small thorns, which will catch on your arms. You will follow your guides off the path to get closer to the gorilla families, which means plenty of pushing past montane vegetation carpeting the floor of the jungle forests. Wear a shirt that’s breathable and dries easily. Even if it’s not raining, the forest is moist and plenty of water is captured on the leaves.
You should wear light material trousers for the same reasons you should wear a long sleeve shirt. Protect your legs from scratches, nettles and bites by wearing long trousers/pants. You can wear jeans but they do get heavy and if it rains, it will be uncomfortable. Quick dry material is always best and zip offs are always great for hiking. Fire ants litter the forest floor and leave nasty bites, so it is advised that you tuck your long trousers into your socks.
One thing is for certain – you should NOT wear shorts !
Waterproof Hiking Shoes
Waterproof hiking shoes with a grip are recommended. The mesh of leaves and twigs covering the ground are often soaked in water and create a muddy sludge. The last thing you want is heavy, mud-caked shoes. Both shoes and hiking boots will do the trick. The better the grip, the easier your hike! Your porters and guides will wear wellington boots with a hardy grip on the base, so you could attempt to hike in wellingtons. Just bear in mind that the guides grew up in the area and have years experience of walking in wellingtons.
Long Comfortable Socks and Gators
The socks will protect you against attack from stinging fire ants. They really are unpleasant critters and cling onto your skin with their pincers, leaving a nasty bite. Gators are basically ankle guards that protect your lower extremities from pests and plants. They can be purchased at any outdoor store.
Light Rain Jacket
You’re in the tropics which means bursts of rain and wet weather. A packable rain jacket should make your trekking experience somewhat more pleasant if it rains.
A backpack is necessary to store your camera, water and insect repellent. You will be provided with a packed lunch which you might want to carry in your day pack. Your porter will quite happily lug your day pack around and help you access your much needed items.
Warm Top, Hats and Gardening Gloves
The warm top is mainly for around the lodge, so it doesn’t really need to be lightweight. We do suggest taking a hat with you on the trek to guard against the sun when it eventually penetrates through the jungle terrain. The jungle is covered by canopies of trees, and it’s not quite as open as the savannah bushveld; but there’s a still a chance that you could get sunburnt.
Gardening gloves are an optional extra and they do come in handy when you’re grabbing gnarled branches.