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How Fit Should You Be for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda


To have a successful gorilla tracking safari in Uganda, you need to be fit enough because the activity involves hiking through dense forests, slippery hills and valleys before locating your assigned gorilla family. That doesn’t mean that less fit tourists cannot track the gorillas.

Most people have average fitness levels.

Here’s a breakdown of how fit you should be for gorilla trekking in Uganda. Hint: it’s not as fit as you might think…

Check out our Complete Guide to Experiencing a Mountain Gorilla-Tracking Safari in Uganda

How Fit Should You Be for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Gorilla trekking in Uganda, particularly in places like Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, is an extraordinary adventure that brings you face-to-face with the majestic mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

However, it is a physically demanding activity that requires a reasonable level of fitness due to the following reasons:

1. Terrain

The parks are located in mountainous areas with uneven, steep, and often slippery terrain. Trekking can involve navigating through dense vegetation, climbing hills, and walking on muddy paths, especially during the rainy season.

2. Duration

The duration of the trek can vary significantly, from as short as 2 hours to as long as 8 hours or more, depending on where the gorillas are on any given day. You’ll need the stamina to walk for several hours, sometimes under challenging conditions.

3. Altitude

These national parks are at a high elevation, with Bwindi Impenetrable National Park ranging from 1,160 to 2,607 meters (3,806 to 8,553 feet) above sea level. The high altitude can make physical activity more strenuous than at lower elevations, especially for those not accustomed to it.

4. Preparation

To enjoy the experience fully and not find the trek overly taxing, it’s advisable to engage in some form of physical preparation before your trip. Regular cardiovascular exercises such as walking, jogging, hiking, or cycling can help build the stamina needed for gorilla trekking. Strength training, especially for your legs and core, can also make navigating the rugged terrain easier.

5. Flexibility

Some level of flexibility is also beneficial, as you might need to bend, stretch, and maneuver through dense underbrush or climb over fallen trees.

6. Health Considerations

Beyond physical fitness, you should be in good health. High-altitude hiking can be risky for individuals with certain health conditions, such as heart problems or severe asthma. Consult with a healthcare provider before planning your trekking adventure.

In summary, while you don’t need to be an elite athlete to go gorilla trekking in Uganda, a moderate level of physical fitness is important to ensure you can handle the physical demands of trekking in rough terrain and at high altitude. Being well-prepared will enhance your experience and ensure you have the energy to fully enjoy the magical moments with the gorillas.

Related read: A Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Uganda & Rwanda

Mountain Gorilla-Tracking Safari in Uganda
Mountain Gorilla-Tracking Safari in Uganda

What About Travelers Who Need Additional Support?

There is a possibility for senior citizens, the elderly and tourists who are physically challenged to do gorilla tracking with the aid of hiking sticks, porters and sedan chairs. We recommend this category of visitors book their trip in advance with a trusted tour operator to help them arrange necessary support in time, like assigning them an easier trek and also booking a sedan chair in advance. These Sedan chairs are designed to cater for the aged or disabled tourists. The cost of hiring a Sedan chair and the support team is around $300 to $500 to and from the forest.

Regardless, every traveler planning to gorilla track is advised to hire a porter in case they feel unfit or have heavy luggage. Hiking through the dense forest and muddy landscape for long distances may even make a small bag appear heavy. The porters also help trackers climb difficult sections by pulling them up or lending a hand when the hike gets challenging, especially on slippery steep terrain.

Most lodges offer hiking sticks to their guests before heading to the park headquarters for briefing and starting their trek. Please look after them like gold even if you feel that you are fit enough; you will thank us later. Also, make sure you listen to the Rangers’ advice right from the briefing session, while hiking and when you encounter the mountain gorillas so that you have a great experience.

By now, you have stopped worrying about your fitness level, and you can successfully take up a challenge to look for mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

Related read: Why Responsible Tourism is Key to Saving the Mountain Gorillas

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda
How Fit Should You Be for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

How To Improve Your Fitness if You Are Planning To Do Gorilla Tracking in Uganda

Irrespective of how fit you may consider yourself, we highly recommend travelers be prepared mentally and physically before a gorilla-tracking safari in Uganda. And if you are not sure you can hike for a long distance but you are fairly in good shape, we advise you do the following to improve your fitness ahead of the gorilla tracking experience.

  • Stretching: This makes your body more flexible and reduces the chances of hurting your muscles or joints. It also helps to prevent muscle soreness when you wake up.
  • Take morning or evening walks and hike: Always keep walking and hiking outside your home whenever possible before going to Uganda for gorilla tracking. This will make your body get used to it and prepare for long hikes and walking. If you have a forest near your home area, it would be great to use to boost your fitness levels. If you live in a forested mountainous area, it can be a perfect training ground before real action begins. We advise you to always begin with a shorter distance walk or hike and keep increasing steadily until you feel fit for the activity. Don’t forget to put on the hiking gear that you will use during the gorilla tracking experience so that your body gets used to their weight. You may also walk from your office to your home if possible.  The focus is preparing your body to deal with long hikes and walks.

Generally, the ease or difficulty of gorilla tracking safari depends on the travelers’ overall fitness, the location of the assigned gorilla family and weather conditions for that day. However much you are tracking twice the same gorilla family on different days, the experience and difficulty level can never be the same.

It should be noted that the park rangers will always move at your pace and not let anyone member in the group to stay back. The park management will always know the location of the assigned gorilla family by sending an advance team to track the actual location of the family and later inform your rangers accordingly. This is the reason why chances of seeing mountain gorillas stand at 99.9%.

Related read: Tips to Prevent Injuries on Active Holidays

A female mountain gorilla with baby in Uganda
A female mountain gorilla with baby in Uganda

To enjoy gorilla trekking in Uganda, it’s good to be reasonably fit. The trek can be tough with steep, slippery paths and long walks. Being prepared means you can handle the hike and really enjoy seeing the gorillas up close.

A bit of exercise before you go can make the whole experience much more fun and less tiring. So, getting ready not only helps you keep up but also ensures you have an amazing time watching these incredible animals in their natural home.

  • Africa Adventure Vacations

    Africa Adventure Vacations is a one-stop center for the best and most memorable African safaris. We are a renowned safari operator based in Uganda, offering exceptional tours throughout the East African region, ranging from wildlife adventures, culture, birding, luxury gorilla safaris to Kilimanjaro trekking tours. All our tours can be customized to best suit your travel needs, budget and time.


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