February 5

Gear Up For Gorilla Trekking: What to Pack


By Xinay De Vries on February 5, 2024

You've watched the movie "Tarzan" more times than you can count, and "Son of Man" by Phil Collins forms part of the soundtrack to your life. And now, it's finally going to happen... You're going gorilla trekking with precious primates! However, surely such a unique experience requires very specific items to pack? That's where we come in! We've compiled the ultimate list of what to pack to make the most of your gorilla trekking adventure. So, it's time to channel your inner Tarzan or Jane and start packing for the soul-stirring experience that's gorilla trekking.

Pack like a pro for your gorilla trekking adventure 

Gone Gorilla Trekking

But before we delve into what to pack for gorilla trekking, let's take a quick look at where you should be going to experience this bucket list experience. These are some of our Travel Experts' tried-and-tested trustworthy favourites. 

The Land Of A Thousand Hills, Rwanda 

Volcanoes National Park is one of the best places to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda. It's here in the Rwandan section of the Virunga Mountains where Dian Fossey began her research. Plus, it's the setting for the novel and film “Gorillas in the Mist.” 

Where to Stay in Rwanda 

Gorilla mom with baby on back

See mountain gorillas in Rwanda's Virunga Mountains, Image Credit: Singita

Africa’s Rainforest, Republic of Congo 

If you're looking for something that's off the beaten track, gorilla trekking in Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo is an excellent choice. What makes it great for gorilla trekking is that it's less well-known than other primate trekking destinations, offering more exclusivity and greater availability.

Another key difference is the gorillas, with the Republic of Congo being home to lowland gorillas instead of the mountain gorillas you find in Rwanda. Mountain gorillas tend to be larger, with longer hair and shorter arms and can only survive in high altitudes. Lowland gorillas, on the other hand, prefer to live in flatter, more heavily forested landscapes. 

Where to Stay in the Republic of Congo

The stunning landscapes of Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Image Credit: Odzala Discovery Camps

The Ultimate Gorilla Trekking Packing List

To make the best of gorilla trekking, there are a few essentials you should bring with you. Because you're going to be trekking across forested terrains, having the right gear is paramount so that nothing gets in the way of you meeting your gorilla cousins. Here's what you should pack for gorilla trekking in Africa.

Soak in the rainforest views during gorilla trekking

1. Long-Sleeved Shirts and Jerseys

Long-sleeved shirts and jerseys are a must to protect your arms from scrapes as you weave your way through lush rainforests. Go for breathable fabrics with a colour palette that leans towards light greens, browns and khaki. Avoid bright colours as well as camouflage and animal prints.

Who says you can't look good gorilla trekking?

Who says you can't look good while gorilla trekking?

2. Long, Waterproof Pants 

Much like your arms, your legs will thank you for the extra protection, especially if it's waterproof. The rainforests of Rwanda and the Republic of Congo have high-humidity climates, and wearing waterproof fabrics will help you stay dry and comfortable during the trek.

3. Good, Sturdy Hiking Boots 

As the song says, "These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do". A pair of good quality, waterproof hiking boots will go a long way towards keeping your feet happy as you trek. Remember to splurge on a pair with good ankle support. Also, get some gaiters – sleeves to protect your boots from dust, debris, moisture and insects going into interesting places.

A gaiter keeps your boots, and your feet, clean and dry  Image Credit: Wilderness

Gaiters will keep your socks clean and dry, Image Credit: Wilderness

4. Rain Jackets

You'll be in a rainforest, so it's important to be prepared for precipitation. A rain jacket will go a long way towards keeping your layers dry so that you're never soaked and shivering. If the jacket is lightweight, it will be even better as you can stash it in your backpack until needed without adding much weight to your back.

A lightweight rain jacket can easily be packed into a backpack, Image Credit: One&Only

5. Sun Protection

The sun can be very unforgiving in Africa, even when you think it's hiding behind the clouds. Therefore, you should protect yourself as soon as you step outside.

Don't forget to pack a wide-brimmed hat to keep you cool and shield your face, neck and ears from the sun. Sunglasses are not just a fashion accessory but prevent you from squinting and protect your eyes from the sun's glare. And finally, to make sure you don't spoil your time in Africa with painful sunburn, slather on some sunscreen and reapply frequently.

6. Backpack

You'll spend quite a bit of time out in the rainforest as you search for the gorillas, so invest in a comfortable backpack that you can carry with ease and keep your belongings like reusable water bottles, snacks, sunscreen and any other items you wish to bring along with you. Some luxury lodges will provide you with a backpack.

Felix Studios Gorilla trekking 2021

Keep the essentials close in a backpack 

7. Camera

To ensure you capture the big moment you meet the gorillas, bring along your camera. It will let you relive the memories long after the day has ended, and you will be the centre of attention at your next dinner party when you show your snaps to friends and family. However, to avoid disturbing the gorillas and other wildlife, flash photography is not allowed during gorilla trekking.

Gorillas nest lifestyle

Bring your camera to capture every moment, Image Credit: One&Only

8. Thick Gardening Gloves

Yes, you did read that correctly: gardening gloves! While our gorilla cousins have evolved appendages that allow them to grip surrounding slopes and branches, humans have not. So, to best protect your hands when you use them to go up and down steep forested slopes, a nice pair of thick gardening gloves will go a long way!

9. Insect Repellent

While your eau de parfum probably smells wonderful, we suggest swapping it out for some eau de bug spray. Spraying insect repellent before and during your gorilla trekking excursion will help keep those creepy crawlies and their friends who fly far away from you for a comfortable trek.

Guides are present throughout providing insights and ensuring the gorillas are protected.

Keep bugs at bay with insect repellent, Image Credit: Odzala Discovery Camps

10. Don't Forget Your Permit

While coming across various other animals, like golden monkeys, on your gorilla trekking expedition will undoubtedly be a welcome surprise, forgetting to complete some important admin will not. To go gorilla trekking, you need to obtain a permit, which, depending on your destination, can cost anywhere between USD 700 and 1500. But don't worry, that's where we come in! We'll worry about all the details so you don't have to.

Golden monkey playing peek-a-boo, Image Credit: Singita

Your Gorilla Trekking Adventure is Just a Click Away…

Our seasoned Travel Experts have travelled far and wide across our beautiful continent so that they can guide you to experience only the very best. So, what are you waiting for? Contact us today to turn your gorilla trekking dreams into a reality!

X Rhino Africa Consultants

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About the author 

Xinay De Vries

Born and raised in South Africa, Xinay is no stranger to all the amazing possibilities Africa has to offer. She's a self-proclaimed bookworm and coffee addict with a yen for bubbles and rosé, so you'll often find her exploring the streets of Cape Town looking for the best cup of coffee or glass of wine. With a passion for travel and her home country, she's determined to get others to love Africa as much as she does!

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