How far is Gorilla Trekking?
My Girl friend and I will be going to Bwindi next year to see the gorillas. Everything I have read says this is a challenging hike. We are hikers but would still like to do some training for this adventure. Can someone give me an approximate idea what the distance is in miles? I know the gorillas move around so there is no exact distance but we would like some type of ball park figure in mileage. Thanks.
Answer ( 1 )
The answer totally depends on where you are staying and on where the gorillas are when you begin your trek that morning (as you noted). To be honest, on every chimp and gorilla trek I have done, the elevation change is much more of a factor. Therefore, for training, I would WALK hills.
Your hands don’t usually need to touch the ground on treks as the climbs are not technical. So, just practice walking up the steepest hills you can find. With that said, I have never gone on a private gorilla trek and I have had several septuagenarians or octogenarians randomly assigned to my group on treks. These people did not appear particular fit or unfit and did just fine.
I have trekked the north side of Bwindi from Buhoma, the south side from Nkuringo. I have also trekked in Rwanda and at Mgahinga Gorilla Park in Uganda (the north face of the Rwanda gorilla park). If you are in Buhoma, your trek will start at around 5,000 feet and go up.
If you start at Nkuringo, your trek will start at 7,500 feet (or lower) and walk down. At Nkuringo, you walk up after you spend the time with the gorillas. If you start at Nkuringo and walk from park HQ, you will go down and back up 1,800 feet on your trek (each way).
I have never gotten back from a chimp or gorilla trek after 1pm. You usually start around 9am and spend 1 hour with the gorillas. So, the other 3 hours are spent walking at a leisurely pace. Therefore, I would guess you cover 4-5 miles in total. If the trek goes past 1pm it will be more.
Where are you staying? What group of gorillas do you have permits for? Whether you know it or not, if you have paid deposit you should have already had a permit purchased for you for a specific group.