Is gorilla trekking difficult?

Gorilla tracking is physically demanding and you should be well prepared, physically and mentally. Having the right equipment will make a big difference to your enjoyment of the experience. Hiring a porter is highly recommended and you will be grateful for the support.

At a minimum, be prepared to be on your feet for five hours. If you are fit and are assigned to a remote gorilla family you may be hiking the entire day.

The day starts early and you may have been travelling the day before. Remember that you will be at altitude and will tire more easily.

If you suffer from any kind of breathing difficulty, consult your doctor before booking your trip and remember to bring your medication.

Age should not be a deterrent and it’s common for people in their 70s and above to enjoy gorilla tracking. The rangers and porters have many years' experience helping visitors move through the forest. In Uganda, enterprising locals offer sedan-type chairs for carrying elderly or disabled visitors through the forest. This comes at a steep price, so consider this for emergencies only.

With common sense and a reasonable level of fitness your day will be memorable for all the right reasons.

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Photography Tips

Your hour with the gorillas will fly by and you’ll certainly want some good photos as a memento.

If you get lucky you’ll find your gorilla family on a sunny day out in the open in perfect conditions. But depending on your location and season it is likely to be fairly dark and gloomy under low-lying mist and dense forest canopy.

As the name suggests, Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest can be dense and dark. In Rwanda, the less dense bamboo vegetation usually makes for better photographs.

You may be on the move with the gorillas, so it’s best to get organised and think about your photos in advance. Once you meet the gorillas, get your photos out of the way so you can spend plenty of time out from behind the camera lens.

Flash photography is strictly prohibited. You’ll need to disable the automatic flash and any focusing lights.

Make sure your batteries are charged the night before and that you’ve got plenty of space on your memory card — or bring spares. (Remote lodges may not have reliable power.)

If you have a film camera, take fast film (400-1600 ASA). Experienced photographers recommend shooting at ISO 1250 or above in the forest.

Serious photographers will probably bring more than one camera body as changing lenses while the gorillas (and you) are moving around can be difficult. Take a zoom lens, wide angle lens and a fixed focal length lens.

Professional filmmakers will need to apply for filming permits in advance from the Uganda Wildlife Authority or the Rwanda Development Board.

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