If you are intending to travel to Rwanda for mountain gorilla tracking, it is very crucial to make sure that you have the right clothing to wear on the day of tracking these exceptionally beautiful Giant Apes. One of the common mistakes intending gorilla trackers do is to dress in whatever way they please, which in the end leads to disappointment when their expectations are not met and yet it was partly their mistake. When you get injured during gorilla trekking, you will even curse the country and regret traveling to Volcanoes for Gorilla trekking, but that is not what you wish for. Imagine someone wearing shorts, a sleeveless top (for women), or a short sleeved shirt (for men), or a T-shirt and sandals, and expect to have a memorable experience. Before you even travel to Rwanda for gorilla tracking, keep it in mind that you are not going for a casual walk or picnic, but rather an expedition into the jungles, with uneven terrains, where there are no clear paths, where you hike through slippery paths and rocks, full of thick vegetation (thick vines and tree branches) and in a very cold environment due to the fact that the National Park is located within a high elevation. This therefore requires advance planning and dressing ‘right” but also “light”. This list helps you to choose what to wear for gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park.
You are advised to wear sturdy rainproof hiking boots with ample ankle support. This will help you to hike with ease. During the rainy seasons, the hiking trails tend to be slippery and muddy, and the terrain is rugged hence tourists need hiking boots that will provide enough grip. Never will you see trekkers or the Park rangers wearing sandals or flip-flops while trekking but instead they wear rubber boots.
Also wear long thick socks, and tuck your pants into the socks before entering the Jungle to track the mountain gorillas. This prevents safari ants and other unpleasant insects from running up your legs or entering your pants, and biting you.
The recommended clothing for gorilla trekking includes;
Long sleeved shirts preferably Denim shirts that will protect your arms from stinging nettles, safari ants and tree branches or grasses. The areas where the mountain gorillas live have no clear paths but have dense vegetation that is likely to scratch you during gorilla trekking. Also avoid wearing T-shirts or shirts made of stretch material which can snag on thorns, tree branches or other unpleasant plants/trees.
Long trousers/pants preferable Khaki zip-up trousers or cargo pants to protect your legs from stinging nettles, grass, tree branches or anything that is capable of scratching your legs during trekking. Much as jean trousers can also be worn, they can become heavy and uncomfortable due to the dew on the grass. This makes it difficult to move faster and unbearable during trekking/hiking.
Lightweight rain jacket/poncho with hoods is a must whether in rainy or dry season. Volcanoes National Park is located in a mountainous area (within a high elevation), hence the chances of it rainy during the dry season is also high. Alight rain jacket is preferred because you can easily fold or furled and packed in a backpack.
Hats with a wide brim and sunglasses.
These are handy for protecting your head and eyes respectively from the strong sunshine. Alternatively you can wear a Bandana to protect your hair against the leaves or twigs that may get twisted in your hair.
Sweaters. This will be necessary for the cold nights and chilly mornings where temperatures drop up to 10 celcius degrees. The coldness is even worse during the rainy seasons where the sweater, blanket and bed sheets may not even be enough and it is for this reason that hot water bottles are provided within some of the Safari Lodges.
You will also need to wear an insect repellent preferably “RID” because in the process of tracking the mountain gorillas, you will encounter some safari ants, tsetse flies and other pesky flies but of course no mosquitoes because of the high altitude of the area.
Wear tough gardening gloves and you will not regret your decision because during hiking, you will need to support yourself using tree branches which may have thorns, hence these gloves serve to protect your hands from the effect of the thorns. Imagine what can happen to your unprotected hands when you touch tree branches with thorns or the stinging nettles. If you know what might happen, then just wear them to avoid the unpleasant from happening.
Other extra things to carry on a gorilla safari include a backpack for carrying your camera, binoculars, insect repellant, packed lunch and drinking water that you will also need during trekking. A walking stick is also handy and hiring a porter to carry your backpack and support you during hiking will be of great help to you and the porter too because Porters are ex-poachers trying to make a decent living (so as to pay school fees for their children, pay for medical care, improve on nutrition and build permanent houses).
Mountain gorilla trekking is a once in a lifetime opportunity that can be enjoyed by wearing/dressing the right way which involves wearing long sleeved shirts, long trousers, a hat with a wide brim, rainproof hiking boots, rain jacket, gardening gloves and long socks among others.