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Fit or unfit?? - Rwanda or Uganda ??

Dagenham, United...
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Fit or unfit?? - Rwanda or Uganda ??

Myself and a female friend are hoping to add to our Bucket list of travel by completing a trek to see the majestic Gorillas. Firstly, we are not couch potatoes but I am 45 and my friend is nearing 60 years of age. I do a lot of walking. My friend has concerns that her fitness will not allow her to undertake the trek. Are there any older traveller's out there who can advise on this? I have read some reviews regarding the treks and there seems to be quite a huge range of different opinions. Very honest views on this please from OLDER people who have completed the treks?

Also, where would you recommend we go for the best trip - Rwanda or Uganda? It is all a little over whelming at the moment trying to decide.

Any advice appreciated

Thank you for reading

7 replies to this topic
Chicago, Illinois
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1. Re: Fit or unfit?? - Rwanda or Uganda ??

Hi -- I am 59 and I recently did two gorilla hikes; one was in Rwanda, and it proved to be straight uphill for 2 hours, and very hard on my old knees. This was despite asking for an easier hike. The gorillas just aren't always where they think they are, and our group headed to the top of the hill for an afternoon nap, which is where we finally found them, mostly sleeping. Though it was hard for me, the rangers always paused for a rest when I needed it, and they are very attentive to peoples' needs.

In Bwindi (Rushaga), we asked for an easier group and got one -- a lovely walk around the edges of a valley. It was still a challenging hike, but shorter and more varied. It involved more horizontal walking than relentless uphill climbing. To me, this is where age makes the difference, because what might have been easier when younger is harder now. So, I really appreciated that the Bwindi rangers helped me by putting me into an easier hike. And we found a great group of gorillas out in the open.

I think if you have a good guide, they can help you get a more suitable group assignment in either location. I think people think this is more likely in Rwanda, but I think it is getting much better in Uganda now (I did two hikes a few years back in Uganda where you were assigned to your group well in advance). So, my point is just that requests are now honored in Bwindi as well as in Rwanda, and I thought in our case that the Bwindi rangers were actually more responsive to our request. They came and switched us after receiving some additional information, and we really appreciated that after our difficult Rwanda hike.

Having done both, I would recommend Uganda, for the scenery and the birds and the people, but you can't go wrong with either..

And I do think it's doable at my age.. I can hike horizontally for a long time, but vertical climbing is very hard for me. I managed it in Rwanda, but it was hard. But I'd do it again. I'd just recommend trying to get in shape before going by doing some long hikes and stair climbs. And ask for an easier group if you need to!

South Riding VA
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2. Re: Fit or unfit?? - Rwanda or Uganda ??

Thanks for your response. You have helped more than the OP. Did you find the altitude problematic?


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3. Re: Fit or unfit?? - Rwanda or Uganda ??


Much of where to go, depends on anything else you might want to add to your Bucket :) Also, flights, and costs.

You can get to Rwandan gorillas from Kigali and back in a day (but always good to stay); but you definitely can't do that in Uganda, however Bwindi gorilla trekking is cheaper.

So proverbial swings and roundabouts.

Always pay for a porter to assist, it is definitely worth it. There are many tales in the Top Thread that report help this way; and I have heard of some people even being carried in a sedan-like chair, in order to achieve their dream.

Anything is possible really!

North Miami, Florida
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4. Re: Fit or unfit?? - Rwanda or Uganda ??

Being from sea level, I found the altitude very problematic. I work out 6 days a week at the gym, aerobics and weights and I must tell you, the gorilla trek in Uganda was the hardest thing I've ever done. It took us 2 hours to find them and this was straight down. My fault for wearing old gym shoes with no traction; I slid a lot of the way. And you know what that means for coming back- straight up. I would not do it again.

Kampala, Uganda
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5. Re: Fit or unfit?? - Rwanda or Uganda ??

Hello. Bwindi in Uganda is much more suitable because if you ask for an easy group, you can be assigned to something with a flat landscape where you wont have to climb steep altitudes. Also the people in Uganda are friendlier and more welcoming, the gorilla permits are cheaper, and it is a much more diverse scenery. You will enjoy it definitely.

Kampala, Uganda
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6. Re: Fit or unfit?? - Rwanda or Uganda ??

I rushaga we have about 6 habituated families and you can request for at the briefing point and this can be done by your driver guide and they normally group the trackers depending on the physical look and age so that everyone can enjoy the trekking. I would recommend the Uganda side.

Stanwood, Washington
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7. Re: Fit or unfit?? - Rwanda or Uganda ??

I did the hike in Uganda. It was amazing!! They send scouts out very early to find the gorillas so we didnt have to hike for long. Our hike was maybe about 1 hour and thats only because we stopped often for those of us in not so good of shape, to catch our breath before continuing. Do be sure to take good hiking shoes or boots! those are a must. Our hike was not that hard but we were in the mountians and there are still steep areas that need to be covered. I found it awesome that for some little money, you can hire a porter before you start your hike. They will carry your backpack with your water, lunch and camera and they will also lend you a helping hand. We hired 2 porters and they were so wonderful with helping us up the rough areas. I wouldnt let age be a factor for you or your friend, as long as you dont have bad knees, I would highly reccomend not missing the Gorillas. The guides in Bwindi are wonderful and dont rush you.

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