Fitness for Gorilla Trekking Tours
Once you’ve booked your ticket for a gorilla trekking tour, the real planning begins. Some things are easy enough, like finding the passport, organizing a packing list and planning your trip to the airport. But how fit do you need to be to do a gorilla trekking tour? This is a physically active trip that requires a moderate level of fitness, and the more prepared you are, the more fun you’ll have on the trek.
Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda
Going into unknown territory like Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park can be intimidating, especially when the terrain is unpredictable. The habituated mountain gorilla families live in high altitudes on the Virunga Mountains, which is covered in exotic flora and fauna. Treks are led by professional trackers and a Gondwana guide who lead guests to the gorilla families. Guests may also hire a porter to help with the trek. Porters carry items like water, snacks and cameras for guests and can help them navigate the terrain. The porters work for tips and are not park employees, so it is important to tip porters if one uses them. Hiring a porter is great for two reasons. First, they can help make the trek easier and more enjoyable. Second, it helps more locals benefit from ecotourism. Some of the porters are ex-poachers, so it is a great program to incentivize care and concern for the mountain gorillas and the local community. This strong support system helps guests feel safe as they trek through the rainforest.
The Trekking Experience
To prepare for the trek, it helps to familiarize yourself with the landscape and altitude that you’ll encounter. Be aware that the rainforest terrain can be muddy and steep, and the hike may take from 1 to 3 hours before the group reaches a gorilla family. In addition to hiking to reach the gorillas, guests also spend a full hour with them, essentially following the family wherever they are inclined to go. This hour may include hiking through untamed greenery, since the gorillas obviously don’t use trails. After the hour has ended, the walk back begins. Guests may also choose to join considerably longer hikes. Being prepared for the best and worst case scenarios is the best way to be covered in unexpected situations.
Trekking Exercise Tips
No matter what your physical fitness goals are, being prepared for a gorilla trekking tour will help you enjoy the experience even more. Though the hike can be strenuous, travellers report that the overall experience is easy to tackle. Ultimately, endurance training will help trekkers be physically capable. Practicing these training exercises will help travellers prepare for a gorilla trek:
- Walk… A Lot!: A large portion of the Rwanda trip is on foot, whether in the city or in the rainforest. However, the gorilla trek is the most physically demanding part of the trip. Get prepared by establishing a long distance walking routine.
- Practice Hiking: Is there a school with bleachers near your home? Perhaps you live in a mountainous area? Take advantage of this resource by wearing your trekking gear and hiking around the area several times, increasing the distance each time you train. This will help you gain the muscles and endurance necessary for the uphill climb.
- Don’t Forget to Stretch: It is crucial to stretch before and after cardio training. Beyond flexibility, stretching helps promote mobility and prevent injury. Skipping stretching means risking waking up with sore, tight muscles. These simple hiking stretches are applicable to gorilla treks.
Gorilla Trekking Tours with Gondwana Ecotours
Gorilla trekking tours are a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Though the hike can be strenuous, most people can complete the trip easily if they are prepared. Keep in mind that that conditions may vary; the terrain could be wet or dry, and the hike may take 1 hour or 3. Though this description is a bit vague, the point is to be prepared for all possible conditions. When you feel ready to tackle the hike, Gondwana’s advice is to relax and enjoy the trip!
Contact us to learn more about gorilla trekking tours in Rwanda.