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What to Pack for Uganda & Rwanda

The following packing list contains general recommendations for a Uganda & Rwanda safari. If you are currently booked on a safari with Nat Hab, please consult your pre-departure materials for the most up-to-date packing list specific to your trip, as packing recommendations vary based on the season. You will receive these pre-departure materials 60-90 days before your departure.

Simplify your packing—shop at Nat Hab’s online Gear Store for some of the key items recommended for your adventure. Look for this icon in the list below, then go to the Nat Hab Gear Store to start shopping.

ADVENTURE-SPECIFIC GUIDELINES

  • Due to the tropical climate, it can rain at any time of the year on our gorilla safaris; however, on most days there are also periods where the skies clear and the sun comes out. The mountainous areas are much cooler than lower elevations and nighttime temperatures can be chilly.
  • January and February specifically tend to be the warmest and driest months of the year (although there is always a chance of rain) with temperatures reaching 90°F or above. This is especially true in the lower-lying areas where wildlife drives and boat trips take place. Despite hot daytime temperatures in lower-lying areas, it will be much cooler at night as well as during time spent at higher altitudes where gorilla treks take place.
  • Because conditions on this adventure can range from hot, dry and dusty to cool, overcast rain showers, we recommend dressing in layers with a fleece pullover and a jacket/windbreaker and lightweight clothing underneath. This way, you can shed clothing as the sun warms throughout the day. We suggest lightweight, quick-drying clothing and a waterproof rain jacket for gorilla trekking throughout the year as it can rain and/or drizzle at any time.
  • While on safari, it is suggested (although not required) that you do not wear bright or white-colored clothing, as it can sometimes spook the animals. You may also want to avoid clothing in shades of blue or black, as these colors attract tsetse flies. Additionally, army camouflage uniforms and hats are forbidden (although khaki is fine).
  • A water-resistant daypack/backpack to carry cameras and other items is very handy while on wildlife drives.
  • We ask you to refrain from bringing hair dryers, irons, radios, excess clothing or toiletries, etc. All points of this adventure are quite casual, and we recommend keeping your luggage down to the basics.
  • From a cultural perspective, tank tops/sleeveless shirts are acceptable for women to wear while on safari, so please feel free to bring them.
  • Plastic grocery bags are banned in Rwanda, and you will not be allowed to bring them into the country. If your itinerary includes a stop in Rwanda, please keep this in mind as you are packing.

CLOTHING

  • Waterproof rain jacket (with hood) and rain pants
    — Waterproof (not just water-resistant) rain gear is essential as showers are unpredictable. You will be tracking gorillas in a rain forest where it can drizzle all day or, at times, rain down in buckets!
  • Gardening or work gloves
    — Important for protection from stinging nettles while on treks.
  • Sturdy, high-top, waterproof hiking boots
    — Make sure your boots have good tread and ankle support and remember to break them in before your adventure so you do not get blisters!
  • Low-top hiking gaiters
    — Highly recommended—useful to keep your boots clean and dry on treks.
    — Complementary gaiters are provided for gorilla trekking if staying at Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel and Bisate Lodge in Rwanda.
  • Extra pair of walking shoes
    — Running/tennis shoes or comfortable sport sandals are fine.
  • 2 or 3 T-shirts or polo-style shirts
  • 2 to 4 long-sleeved shirts
  • Sweater or fleece pullover
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 pairs of long pants
    — Nylon, zip-off pants are perfect for cool mornings and warmer afternoons. Blue jeans are not recommended for treks.
  • Wool or moisture-resistant socks
    — For treks, Smartwool is a comfortable brand, which helps to prevent blisters. Cotton socks are not recommended. Socks should be long enough for pants to be tucked into if necessary.
  • Undergarments
  • Sleepwear
  • Hat with brim (for sun protection)
  • Swimsuit (optional)
    — Please check the Facilities & Amenities list on your daily itinerary to see which have plunge pools/swimming pools.
  • Bandana or neck buff
    — Optional—conditions may be dusty while driving.
  • Instant cooling scarf (such as EnduraCool)
    — Can be soaked in water and used to stay cool on hot days.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

  • Cash
    — For discretionary gratuities (you may want to bring envelopes for discreet presentation)
    — For personal spending (souvenirs, Internet use, or food and beverages not included in your trip fee)
  • Binoculars
    — Binoculars are definitely a must! We strongly suggest each client bring his or her own pair of binoculars as you will be using them continuously while on wildlife drives. If possible, we highly recommend investing in a good quality pair. Initially, the cost may be higher, but it will enhance your wildlife viewing experience. You will get the most out of them if you practice using them at home and make a habit of having them with you regularly on the adventure. Waterproof binoculars work well but are not required.
  • Insect repellent and anti-itch ointment
    — Repellents containing DEET are the most effective against mosquitoes, but please be aware that DEET is a very strong ingredient that can damage plastics, clothing and equipment.
  • Water bottle
    — You might prefer the convenience of a Camelback-type hydration system that allows you to drink without stopping while trekking.
  • Outlet adapter and/or power converter
  • Sunglasses (with U.V. filter and secure strap)
    — In addition to being helpful for sun protection, sunglasses can also be useful eye protection for treks or drives in the bush.
  • Headlamp or small flashlight
    — A small, bright flashlight or headlamp may come in handy as some of the accommodations we use may not have the high-quality reading light you are used to. Also, on rare occasions our gorilla treks have taken us into the nighttime hours. You should bring spare batteries and a spare bulb, as these are hard to obtain in East Africa.
  • Earplugs
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Soap
    — Optional—provided at all of our accommodations.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Brush or comb
  • Sunscreen and lip balm (at least SPF15)
  • Hand sanitizer and/or hand wipes
  • Prescription medications and favorite remedies
    — For headaches, colds, upset stomach, skin irritations, diarrhea, etc.
    — If you are prone to motion sickness we HIGHLY RECOMMEND bringing your favorite remedy for long drives.
  • Small medical kit
    — Only the basics or special medicines. All of the camps and vehicles have kits for use should it be necessary.
  • Prescription glasses/contact lenses
  • Battery-operated alarm clock/wristwatch
  • Reusable waterproof bags
    — Several sizes for wet or dirty clothing and to protect camera equipment. Again, plastic grocery bags are banned in Rwanda.
  • Sewing kit
  • Hiking poles (optional)
    — Walking sticks (one per person, carved out of wood) will be available for use while in Bwindi and/or Volcanoes National Park.
    — If you are bringing hiking poles, they must be able to fit in your check-in luggage, as you will not be allowed to carry them on the plane.
  • Electrolyte/flavor crystal packets (optional)
    — Can be added to water to replace fluids in case of intestinal illness and/or enhance the taste to encourage hydration.
  • Energy bars (optional)
    — Good to have for your treks to the gorillas, especially if your treks take longer than expected.
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