Before you go Gorilla tracking in Uganda, you want to make sure you train adequately before going. When we went gorilla tracking in Uganda, we had a rude, snarky, and unfit American woman hold up the entire group. I have nothing against people who need more time to do some hikes. I personally needed more time myself when I hiked up Mount Nyiragongo in Congo.
What I’m talking about is if you are out of breath after every 2 steps you take and we’re not in high altitude, there is definitely a problem with your health.
This woman was not only unfit (which is perfectly understandable for many people who don’t like to exercise or for the elderly), but was also extremely rude to our gorilla tracking guides and porters.
It’s one thing to be unfit, but what I cannot forgive is a rude and mean attitude towards people who are trying to help you.
Don’t be a jerk if you’re unfit
Our guides would constantly tell her to take her time. And she would snap back at them saying things like “don’t say that if you don’t mean it”. She’ll also repeatedly say things like “I don’t care! I don’t care! I don’t care!”. And this was just the tip of it. She clearly did not care about the rest of the group and was self-absorbed in her own world.
Truthfully, we got a bit lucky during my gorilla tracking experience and found them within 45 minutes.
However, because this woman was being a rude jerk to the Ugandan guides while struggling physically, it took us significantly longer to get back to our starting point.
What to do if you’re unfit before going gorilla tracking
Hire a porter
Besides not being a jerk, the first thing you should do before going gorilla tracking is to hire porters. This woman was not only rude and a jerk, she’s also a cheap ass. Porters only cost $15 USD to hire and they help the locals stay employed. Helping the locals stay employed means they won’t resort to poaching these gorillas. A cause that I’m sure everyone will find worthy.
Start an exercise training program before going gorilla tracking
When you go gorilla tracking, you can expect to be in the forest anywhere between 1-5 hours on average. If you run into bad luck, the worst case scenario is you’re stuck in the jungle for up to 11 hours. But that rarely happens.
This means you should start a fitness program where you’re training your cardio and leg strength. Here’s a simple work out program for you to follow to prepare you for gorilla tracking.
Gorilla tracking workout plan
You don’t need to go crazy on cardio. If you train your cardio once a week at home, that’s more than enough to successfully do gorilla tracking.
Run on the treadmill or jog outside for 20 minutes. Even riding your bicycle or taking a spin class also helps. You can also use a rowing machine for 20 minutes and that’s more than enough to adequately train your cardio for this awesome experience.
If you do some squats and lunges, you’re good to go to train for gorilla tracking.
Take some dumbbells and do some goblet squats. 3 sets of 12 once a week is enough. You can also add in some walking lunges and do 3 sets of 10 (per leg) and you’re good to go!
Stretching and foam rolling
I highly recommend you increase your hip flexor flexibility by doing hip flexor stretches 3 times a week prior to your trip. A tight hip flexor will cause your glutes to deactivate causing your quads to overcompensate. As a result, you’ll put excessive pressure on your knees when you hike in the steep hills of Bwindi’s forest.
You’ll also want to use a foam roller and foam roll your quads and inner thighs to loosen up those muscles and allow your glutes to take the brunt of the hike instead of your knees.
Go hiking ONCE at home before going to Uganda for gorilla tracking
That’s right, you don’t need to go hiking every week before you go to Uganda to hike in Bwindi National Park. Even hiking just once before you leave will make a huge difference.
The reason is because after you do your first hike, your body will be extremely sore. This is especially true for your calves, quads, knees, and lower back. However, it also trains your body to take in abuse from hiking.
When you go to Uganda, your soreness would have all healed already and you can now take more beating from hiking to find the famous mountain gorillas.
Before you go hiking in Bwindi National Park to see the famous mountain gorillas, make sure you take these important advice. First, don’t be a jerk and be nice to the Ugandan guides who are trying to help you.
Second, hire a porter, it’s only $15 USD and it makes the hike easier for you and you also help out the locals.
Third, train at home before going gorilla tracking. Do cardio once a week and some basic leg exercises like squats and lunges.
Fourth, improve your mobility by stretching your hip flexors and quads. Don’t forget to use a foam roller to loosen up your quads and inner thighs as well.
Fifth, go do a 3 hour hike just ONCE before you go gorilla tracking. You’ll be really sore afterwards but your body will be conditioned to take the abuse of trekking in Bwindi National Park.
Follow these simple advice and you’re good to go for gorilla tracking in Bwindi National Park in Uganda!