Is altitude sickness a major challenge during gorilla trekking? Gorilla trekking is every visitor’s dream wildlife experience but what leaves many worried is altitude sickness. A trek to view mountain gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda or DRC takes trekkers through an elevation of about 2500m. Mountain gorillas thrive at elevation of 2200 to 3000 meters and trekking to see these unique apes is a bit a challenging experience.
Mountain gorillas are calm, adorable apes and a trek to see them offers a magical encounter. They exist only in 2 African regions; the Virunga Conservation Area (this covers Virunga National Park in the Eastern DR Congo, Volcanoes National Park in Northwestern Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern Uganda); and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Kabale, Southwestern Uganda.
The 2 regions shelter an estimate of the world’s only 1063 mountain gorillas, 459 of these are within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Uganda consists of 21 habituated gorilla groups, 10 habituated groups in Rwanda while DR Congo protects 8 habituated gorilla group families.
Even if the gorilla safari park isn’t elevated enough to cause altitude sickness, there is possibility for trekkers to encounter some challenge on their trek to see gorillas. This may require you to make so many breaks prior encountering a habituated gorilla group family in the wild. The length of gorilla treks varies and can last you about 2-6 hours, less or more depending on your speed of trekking, location of gorilla family and the nature of the gorilla habitat. These factors cut across all ages of trekkers-the young, old or even the more energetic.
A gorilla trek is more tiring than the usual game drives or nature walk in savanna parks given the nature of elevation in most gorilla safari parks. But for those who have adequate preparation, severe altitude sickness isn’t usually a big challenge. Interestingly, the park guides are well-trained, experienced and while on a trek, they make sure they take you within your pace. They make sure everyone succeeds in realizing their dreams in the African jungles on gorilla trek to see mountain gorillas.
Mountain gorillas live in a high elevation thus offering challenging treks but this may depend on the park. Some gorilla parks and gorilla groups are hard to trek compared to others while some are really easier. This requires you to get acclimatized to the nature of the rugged steep slopes in some of the gorilla safari parks. You can do some exercises, practices and most importantly, take advantage of the high elevation back in your home country to do practice such that you can overcome the steep slopes in Bwindi, Mgahinga or Volcanoes National Park on gorilla trek.
A normal gorilla trek adventure starts early with briefing on gorilla rules and regulations as well as allocation of habituated gorilla families. The park official then assigns each group of 8 trekkers to an experienced park guide. You then begin your actual trek at 8:00am and may last 2-6 hours.