When planning for the great African safari plan for the gorilla trekking experience. This is an expensive activity and may cause someone to think “should I do it”. Yes, absolutely. Two treks if possible. Both of our treks were very different, but also amazing. We did intermediate treks…about 2 hours of steady walking, and a good deal of uphill. They don’t traverse much. Having the porter carry your pack is a huge help, but remember to tip at the end…it typically isn’t part of their fee.
We booked an 8 day Uganda safari package with 2 gorilla treks and other activities like wildlife viewing, chimpanzee tracking, boat cruise, community tours, and mountain gorilla trekking was outstanding. You arrive at 7 am and wait to be assigned the group you are to go gorilla trekking with. It’s all very efficient and informative. You meet the two rangers who will escort you and they tell you about the gorilla group you will see, what to expect and to do. Then you drive to the spot you will be hiking from.
The lengths of hikes vary and we asked for and got two of the shorter ones. The hiking is very leisurely and you can also hire porters to carry your stuff. Do this. It’s only $10 dollars and it’s worth it. You will also get a gorilla carved stick to hike with. Our hike was through potatoes fields, over the volcanic rock wall, and through some jungle.
The next minute you are told to stop and leave everything behind but your camera. And then you are in the bushes with the gorillas!!! They are sometimes as close as a meter and they don’t seem bothered at all with us. They eat and play and sleep. It’s unbelievable. You do not need to drag a massive zoom with because they are right next to you. In fact, even our cellphones got great videos. You have an hour to observe and take pictures. The time speeds past and even though this is an expensive experience you will not be disappointed.
We were back at park headquarters the following day to meet our guide for our trek to Dian Fossey’s grave. This is a steep hike through jungle (about 100 minutes) to 3,200 meters but well worth it and completed the whole gorilla experience. It was wonderful to walk in the footsteps of this amazing lady and contemplate her invaluable work for 18 years living with the mountain gorillas.