In June, I had the chance to talk to El Nault about her amazing safari to Rwanda and Tanzania with Ujuzi Travel and Jodi Carrigan of Zoo Atlanta. She was a delight to speak to, and had lots of wonderful insights about wildlife, culture and having a truly memorable safari. I posted most of the interview a couple weeks ago, but there wasn’t room to include all her travel tips.
At Ujuzi, I work hard to make sure that your safari is as awe-inspiring and worry-free as possible. But little decisions you make before and on your trip can also affect your experience. So this week, I’m going to share some of El’s ideas for making the most of a gorilla trek. In a future post, I’d like to share other safari tips, so please comment with your own below or on Ujuzi’s Facebook page.
El Nault’s tips for a successful gorilla trek
- Get into a regular exercise routine well before you leave on your trip. Your body will thank you if your hike turns out longer than expected.
- Before leaving on your trip, buy a pair of the heaviest jeans you can find. Second-hand works just fine. It will protect you from brambles and twigs if you go through denser patches of rainforest on your hike.
- Wearing hiking boots that you’re used to makes the walk easier, but you can also rent boots once you get there.
- Bring gaiters to cover the tops of your boots and openings of your pants legs. This keeps ant from getting into your pants if you accidentally step on a nest.
- Hire at least one porter on the trek, even if you don’t think you need any help. The porter can carry your daypack and help you up and down steep climbs. Even if you’re fit as a fiddle, it’s nice to have the assistance of someone who is more familiar with the terrain. Plus, porter jobs are an important source of employment in natural areas. By supporting the economy, you help reduce poverty and dependence on illegal poaching for food. So hire two if you can!
- Don’t forget your camera, but don’t spend all your time looking through the lens.
- Be respectful of the people and animals that welcome you to their space.
- Ask questions! The guides and trackers have incredible amounts of knowledge from the years they have spent working with the mountain gorillas.
- If your trek is at the beginning of your trip and you won’t need your hiking jeans or backpack the rest of your time on safari, ask your porter, guide, or staff at your lodge if they could use them or know someone who can. You’ll have lighter luggage and help someone out. But don’t simply leave items behind in your room expecting that housecleaning will know it’s OK to take them for themselves. They won’t keep them unless the items are directly offered as a gift.