Ahead of our trip, one of our greatest concerns was having the appropriate clothing. Those of you that have read my earlier posts, know that as we arrived in Uganda, we lost one of our pieces of luggage. Through this experience though I feel I have learnt a valuable lesson about what clothes are needed for this type of trip, especially if you have limited baggage.
While it is nice to be bright, neutral colours are recommended for trekking and safaris in Africa. Khaki is the colour-du-jour in countries such as Rwanda and Uganda. It is important to remember that blue and black can attract insects, including the dreaded tsete fly and should be avoided. We didn’t actually find this out until after we left.
We read a lot on the subject of clothing for gorilla and chimp trekking before we went, and most advised collared shirts as an essential. This isn’t something that I had for hiking before so I went out and bought a few. These were obviously in the case that didn’t arrive and I have to say I didn’t miss them one bit! Layering is one of the most important things while trekking. It is hot at the bottom, and you get hot when you are walking but as you get higher and for the hour you are with the gorillas it can get cold so layers are essential. I personally find that collars and layering while hiking, is not the most comfortable thing. Therefore I would recommend long sleeve, high neck cotton tops. This provides adequate coverage of areas that are at risk of getting scratched etc, the cotton is both cool and warming and it is easy to put extra layers over. Lightweight fleeces are the best layer, they are light to carry and comfortable to wear. We were very lucky when we were there and never had the need for a waterproof, but it was essential to have one just in case. It also works well as an extra layer if you are cold.
This is something of a personal choice. My husband wore his hat for every trek we did. Personally I found hats bothersome and only used on a bird watching swamp walk, which was far more out in the open.
HIKING BOOTS AND SOCKS
Hiking boots and socks are an essential. However one thing to stress is make sure you get long enough socks. The terrain can be exceptionally muddy and at one point both my husband and I ended up in a river so make sure your socks can tuck in your trousers before you go!
These were the only type of trousers we used and were essential for the same reasons given above. I would personally recommend the zippable version as you can then take the dirty bottoms off when you are back in the car at the end of your trek.
Not really necessary to have your own– most lodges carry these. Check before you go but I wouldn’t bother carrying your own with you
These are perhaps the most important thing to carry with you depending on how far up the mountain the gorillas are. At the top, you will be going through thicket and may need to move prickly plants aside as you continue your trek. The best type of gloves for this are gardening gloves but I would say a good second option would be goalkeeping gloves. Anything thinner and woolen wouldn’t really do the job if the terrain gets tough.
Before our trip we were told that laundry wouldn’t be available. This actually wasn’t true but I imagine you are told as not to rely on it. We had no choice but to rely on it because of our lost luggage but I would say to anyone going, double check whether this is an option for you. If it is, it means you need to pack far less. The laundry for us worked well and dried very quickly but consider the time of year you are going. The lodges we stayed at hand washed our clothes and were dried naturally. At certain times of the year, the climate can be very humid and therefore drying can take a long time. Make sure you pack enough to cope with the drying times but really we found no need to over pack or have a different set of clothes for each day.
What I ended up using:
- Hiking boots
- 5 pairs of hiking socks
- 2 pairs of waterproof trousers
- 3 long sleeve high neck cotton tops
- 1 lightweight fleece
- 1 waterproof jacket
Have you been gorilla or chimp trekking? What are your tips on what to wear?