Whereas many travelers plan their trek excursions through various travel companies, you can plan for a trekking tour yourself. Mountain gorilla safaris offer lifetime experience no matter who makes the plan but preparing it yourself makes it feel extraordinary. However, though inspiring, private planning for the trek is quite irritating since it requires continuous follow ups which are not a case with tour companies. On the other hand, although tour companies make it easy, planning through them is expensive. These companies add up their commissions, which make the trip normally expensive for budget travelers. Therefore, to positively plan for the trekking tour yourself, the following tips are helpful:
Inquire about the available permits / book and pay the deposit in advance
Get to know whether there are available gorilla permits. The information about permit availability can be accessed from the websites of any government body responsible for issuing out these permits. For the case of Uganda, the Uganda wildlife authority (UWA) provides the information whereas the Rwanda Development Board provides permit information for Rwanda. After knowing the available permits, book through any of these bodies and then pay for the deposit in advance. Booking should be at least 6 months before the trekking date. This is due to the amplified demand for these permits and for the purposes of timely allocation of the gorilla families among trekkers.
Book for the lodge/hotel
After knowing which permits available and the location of the gorilla families, you then book for the hotel/lodge. This should be near the gorilla trekking starting point so as to ease the movement from the hotel/lodge to the starting point. You select any of your choice as you find them online and book with any. Just like with the permits, booking with these lodges require payment of the deposit for the reservation purposes. However, even after booking and payment of the deposit, you need to keep in contact with these lodges for the updates and any changes.
Look for the means of transport
Having booked for the permit and the lodge, you have to get the means of transport. There are several car hire companies whom you can book with for the airport pick-ups and transfers. Also, you can hire a car with any car hire company for the all the days you will be on a trip. Some lodges and hotels also have airport pickups; you can enquire about this with the hotel / lodge you book with. Also, there are public means of transport, the buses, Matatus, bodas that can take you to the final destination. These public means of travel are in most cases cheaper hence the best for budget travelers.
What to pack
You have to be well prepared for forest life. Mountain gorillas live in forested areas with unpredictable weather, slippery grounds and much undergrowth with thorny bushes. You must therefore pack hiking boots, long sleeved shirts and panties, hat, hand gloves and rain coats. These help in case of unpredictable weather changes. Since photographing is the only activity allowed while with the gorillas, you should not forget a non-flash light camera.
This is not compulsory but very helpful. You can choose to tip the guide and other service providers or any other service providers especially in the hotels and lodges. Tipping is a form of appreciation and motivation for the service providers.
Conclusively therefore, you can plan for the gorilla trekking tour yourself and the experience is real memorable.