The Ultimate Packing List For Gorilla Trekking Safari in Uganda & Rwanda
Pack light! Save yourself travel luggage stress and only carry the essentials. Your packing list for gorilla trekking should have things you absolutely need, especially if you’re taking domestic flights, which have a limit of up to 32 kg per bag and charge for extra weight.
Mountain gorillas live in the remotest regions with minimal access to modern services and at mountainous altitudes. You’ll be trekking uneven, steep terrain at 7000 ft 13,000 above sea level, under a thick humid tropical mountain forest.
It gets chilly at night, with morning temperatures between 7 to 15 °C (45 to 59 °F). Carry some comfortable and warm clothing, plus waterproof shoes. Avoid clothing that makes you stand out like a sore thumb and draw unnecessary attention.
The mountain gorilla jungle is an impenetrable thicket of tangled green with marked walking trails. You must get up early to join the gorilla trekking excursion group that sets out at 08:00 am. The trek goes irrespective of whether it rains or not. Therefore, you should pack for any eventualities.
The recent deadly pandemic has changed the way people travel; we now have to protect ourselves and animals from dangerous transmittable diseases. Your packing list for gorilla trekking will include standard hygiene items for protecting you, the gorillas, and everyone else.
Look out for the ever-changing entry restrictions like visas and vaccines. You want to have all documents packed in your handbag.
Remember to check with your local tour operator about your gorilla permit; it’s a vital pass to see the mountain gorillas. They must have sent you a copy; make sure you pack your verified copy with the correct names, date, gorilla trekking park, and maybe, the trailhead or sector.
Also, your lodge will allow you to leave your luggage and check out after the trek to have a safe place to leave your luggage and freshen up after the hike. In retrospect, bring a carry-on bag to carry your lunchbox, camera, and other items you’ll need during gorilla trekking in the jungle.
What you should pack in your luggage
Health & Hygiene
- Facemasks – by law, you must wear a facemask when with gorillas.
- Hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and hard-surface cleaning spray; only if you want to be extra precautious. Use items that the CDC approves
- Pack your prescription glasses and bring a floating strap if you’ll use them while trekking the gorillas.
- Carry sunscreen to protect you from the tropical heat. Please, choose one that is water-resistant and reef-friendly. But always remember that nothing can protect you against the sun better than clothing.
- Essential prescriptions, meds, and vitamins
- Insect repellent will help you keep the bugs away during the hike in the woods.
- A tiny traveler’s first aid kit
Clothes to pack
- Long-sleeved shirts for forest trekking and sunburn protection. A couple of regular T-shirts, blouses, or dress shirts
- Two pairs of long pants—something dressy and something for the forest hiking
- A pair of hiking gloves—you need them to protect your hands when you touch thorny branches and vines in the woods.
- Underwear and comfortable socks, of course
- A lightweight waterproof jacket or raincoat that will keep you dry or warm when the temperatures drop
- Sunglasses and hat or baseball cap
- A pair of getters and outside cloves
- Lightweight hiking or walking shoes, preferably waterproof
- Closed sandals or crocs and a pair of long, warm socks
- Retractable trekking poles or hiking staff—usually, you can get a free wooden walking stick at the park office; it could turn out to be heavier than your foot.
Books and documents
- A good travel book about Uganda or Rwanda—perfect for learning about the basics of the destination you’re visiting
- Pack some reading materials like ebooks, magazines, novels, or a travel blog with great content about Uganda experiences like destinationuganda.com.
- A passport that has at least more than three months before expiry and three empty pages. Have photocopies (paper and digital)
- Identification cards (driver’s license) and insurance cards with emergency contacts. Make paper and digital copies.
- Most international debit cards and credit cards are accepted in Uganda, and there are Banks/ATMs in major towns en route to the gorillas. Only carry small amounts of cash for souvenirs, street food, bus/taxi fare, and tipping. Most people and lodges in Uganda and Rwanda accept US Dollar bills not older than 2006.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste, you may not find any at your gorilla lodge
- Pack small bottles of shampoo and body soap if you don’t want to use your lodge’s complimentary toiletries
- Brush or comb
- Deodorant and antiperspirant
- Cosmetics and other beauty items such as body lotion, antibacterial wipes, etc.
- Sanitary pads, which you can also buy in Kampala or Kigali when you land.
Miscellaneous things to pack for the gorilla trekking safari
- Ziplock bags
- Your favorite long-lasting energy snack for hiking; A mix of dried fruit and nuts is a great, energizing snack. You can also request the chef at the lodge to pack your favorite in your ziplock.
- A small flashlight for late-night walks to your cottage
- A pair of binoculars for birdwatching
- A tablet or light laptop
- Camera or Cell phone for photography. You may find wifi at the lodge to connect with your social buddies.
- A waterproof daypack or backpack for daily activities is handy.
- Your electronics chargers with a socket adopter.
- Headphones for those quiet me-time
- Emergency, friends, and family contacts
Essentials Items For The Gorilla Trekking Day
- 2 facemasks & hand sanitizer
- Reusable drinking water can/bottle – you’ll need a lot of drinking water
- Long sleeve shirt or T-shirt
- Long pants
- Walking/hiking boots
- Long socks
- Raincoat or poncho
- Drinking Water
- Lunch pack & snack
Luggage packing tips and tricks
Fit more into your luggage: The best way to gain space in your bag is by rolling your clothes, and you will make less luggage and likely not have to pay extra luggage fees on your flight.
Buy stuff at your destination: Entebbe, Kampala, and Kigali have travel stores where you can buy things you will need on your gorilla trekking safari. Please pack only the essentials and then ask your tour manager to help you make a list of the things you can get when you come.
We have two seasons: June to August and December to February are dry seasons in Uganda and Rwanda. The heat makes for an excellent gorilla trekking experience under the humid jungle canopy. But you should pack light clothing for the trek and something to protect yourself against the sun outside the rainforest (bring sunglasses and tropical-friendly sunscreen). March to May and September to November is the rainy season. There may be unexpected rain outbursts for a couple of hours a day, and a cloak can come in handy.
Recommended for you: Best time to go trekking the mountain gorillas—month by month.
Layer up: Avoid the bulky, heavy clothing that takes up space. Bring lighter clothes that can layer up to stay warm. For example, instead of that bulky sweater, why not wear a Merino wool tank or tee with a lighter long-sleeved top?
Carry heavy clothing on you: You can wear heavy clothing during transit, to free up some parking space to carry snacks or something to give away like “Pack For A Purpose” items. You’ll have that space available when flying back home. It’s common to see someone in transit wearing a jacket (or holding it), a thick pair of jeans, and sturdy boots.
Overpack vs Underpack: What’s worst, to overpack or underpack? People that prefer overpacking say that even though you don’t end up using some things, the security of having it is reassuring — people who are against overpacking say large bags are too much of a burden. Why bother when you can just buy stuff at your destination if you ever need it?