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Questions re Gorillas in Rwanda and money in both Rwanda and Tanzania

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Apr 4th, 2013, 03:18 AM
  #21
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Leslie, I would not have thought to have my passport with me, usually leave it in the hotel/lodge safe. Will have to check that little detail, and then will need a ziploc (or our equivalent ) for that!

My camera/lense is fairly expensive but will be taking it anyhow as I need to take good photos, or as good as I can, one of the reasons I am going 3 times! I am certainly going to invest in a good waterproof backpack, and while I won't be happy if it gets damaged, better than the camera and also the last leg of the trip. If that is the only thing to get damaged, i will be laughing! OK maybe not, but nearly laughing!

Yes Cateyes555, I am hoping by having some raingear with me, it will mean a nice dry walk as well!

Kind regards

Kaye

ps i know we are to take snacks and share with rangers, porters and trackers, was this chocolate, or is there other things we should be buying as well? I would certainly like to have things that the guys like to eat!
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Apr 4th, 2013, 05:31 AM
  #22
 
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In Uganda they really scrutinized our passports. I thought after the fact that maybe just a photocopy would've been okay - I didn't like having to have my passport with me, especially in the rain. The other thing is that at the point where you reach the gorillas you leave your backpack with the porters and go on without them. The ranger made a point to say take your money and passports with you, don't leave them in the pack. So that was a little awkward. Rwanda's set-up could be completely different. My solution for that was I wore a small waistpack which was under my jacket and had my 'essentials' so the backpack just had lunch, water, other snacks, some bandaids, etc. So I didn't need to retrieve my valuables. Honestly I wouldn't have anyway but I guess they want to reduce temptation or any possibility of accusations any wrong-doing. Like I said, that was awkward.

As far as food - we took our packed lunch from the lodge and gave that to our porters and just ate power bars we'd brought for ourselves. It was a lot of food and our porters then shared with the other porters who didn't get anything from their 'clients.' I think ours were very happy to have the lunches and probably would be happy with anything else like chocolates or biscuits. None of them seemed to carry anything of their own beyond a bottle of water in a pocket.

It would be good to invest in a waterproof backpack if you have expensive camera equipment. I found one from Outdoor Research for around $50 that I used on another trip and should've brought to UG. For example:
http://strayoutdoors.com/waterproof-...ing-wet-places

Seriously after all this you will have nothing but sunny skies!
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Apr 4th, 2013, 06:57 AM
  #23
 
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Cateyes555 - we too were assuming we would experience little or no rain in August, and are now also reconsidering. Patrissimo's post was a wee bit of an eye-opener! Of course, if you and I are well prepared, Rwanda may experience its first drought ever!

Leslie - you mention Ziploc bags in your backpack - I thought plastic bags were illegal in Rwanda? How did you get them into the country? Is it just the cheap plastic grocery bags that not allowed? Good quality ziplocs are OK? My jacket is supposed to be waterproof - time to get in the shower with it and see what happens!

Femi - it is obviously time for me to investigate rubber boots - mine are big and sloppy but, with a good supportive boot, I can see the advantages. We will not have to worry about snakes. I love snakes, but I seem to be a natural snake repellant - wherever we go, we rarely see them! So frustrating!

Kaye - we too are doing two hikes - I like the idea of a more difficult hike on the first day and an easier hike on the second. In response to your original questions: my DH and I spent 4 weeks self-driving through Tanzania in August 2012. The only time we used Tanzanian shillings was to pay for petrol - we used USD (tips, in markets) or credit cards (MasterCard for the lodges, park fees) for everything else.
CR
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Apr 5th, 2013, 05:41 AM
  #24
 
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Sorry to mislead CR, I was in Uganda not Rwanda. I forgot about that no-plastic-bag rule in Rwanda! I guess some other non-disposable waterproof pouch would be in order for passports and cameras.
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Apr 5th, 2013, 05:49 AM
  #25
 
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Leslie - no worries! I should have remembered that you were in Uganda! CR
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Apr 5th, 2013, 08:22 AM
  #26
 
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Rwanda is concerned about plastic grocery bags and didn't say a thing about our ziplock bags for personal use. I don't think you'll have any problems especially if your ziplocks are inside your packs.

Last March (2012) the Hirawa group was wonderful with a newborn baby and 1 year old twins. We also trekked the Ugenda group which was also very good. Both were about an hour of actual walking and no rain at all. It was warm hiking with long sleeves rolled up and thin convertible pants with gaitors. The ants got me but it only hurt for a few minutes and it felt like mild stinging nettles. I wore 1 glove to grab with and the other free to run my camera. Have fun.
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Apr 5th, 2013, 10:32 AM
  #27
 
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Agree with wildlifepainter: ziplocs for your camera won't be a problem.

I trekked in June. One drizzly day, one non-rainy day (Golden Monkeys), and one 50/50. I wore low-hikers from Merrell that had some ventilation. Wore some heavy cotton pants, tucked them into my hiking socks. No problems. The stinging nettles really weren't that bad. I think they annoyed me when I used my hands to catch myself at one point (I had taken my gloves off because I was hot; it can get rather humid).

http://www.rei.com/product/747732/me...9-001b2166c2c0

The ladies at Kinigi Guest House cleaned my hikers each afternoon and they were dry by end of day. I brought two pairs of the heavy khakis and two pairs of hiking socks, so I always had something clean & dry for the next day's trek.

Anyway, everyone has different tolerance levels and of course weather is always a question mark, but I felt perfectly comfortable and adequately prepared.

Have a great trip, those of you who are off soon!
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Apr 6th, 2013, 02:27 AM
  #28
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Hi Leslie

This has taken me hours as in the middle started to look at camera bags!
Don't really get the looking at passports on a gorilla trek but I am sure the lodge will know if we need to take them with us or not. I would think very awkward and can only think that it is against us, not the porters, as pretty obvious who had taken something from a backbag in your care, if something was actually taken!
Ok that sounds a good idea if our lodge does give us a lunch to take and I am sure they are generous serves. Think we shall get additional items as well like chocolate, biscuits etc as sure that the guys would be happy with those treats for themselves and hopefully a few to take home to their families but we shall have to ration our supplies for our 3 days of walking.
Yes will get a waterproof pack, not the range that you guys have in the States, but will find something I am sure, and then after all this trouble, am bound to have great weather, which is a good thing!

Hi Canadian Robin
Thanks, think we shall also just get some US$ and yes I also like the idea of doing the hardest walk first up and then each day is hopefully easier as I get more decrepit!

Hi WildLifePainter
will have to try and find out about which group has babies. Not sure about ziploc bag sizes, but will need a large one for my camera and lens so do think i will get a waterproof backpack to carry my camera in, for the planes as well as this portion of the trip.

Hi Leely

Think we have also decided to use socks as added protection for our lower legs, we are even discussing wearing 2 pairs of thick socks, one with the feet cut out as neither of us think we could fit our boots on with 2 pairs of thick socks!

Thanks, we will be having a great trip!

Kind regards

Kaye
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Apr 6th, 2013, 09:53 AM
  #29
 
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Hi,
I wanted to expand on my response as I haven't been on the boards in days. I am a very active 63 year old, to put things in perspective. I do have arthritis in my hip and will be needing hip replacement. Only a matter of when. We found the first hike really hard and actually suggest that you do your easier hike first . An easy hike can turn out to be a hard hike. if you do the easiest first, you won't be worn out for your next hike. We were so sore and wiped out that we didn't go on the golden monkeys hike on our second day, which I really wanted to do, but my body couldn't. I wore a pair of leggings under my pants and rain pants on top. No gaiters, only wool hiking socks over my pants. Also, from the waist up I dressed in layers and put things in our backpack which was not waterproof, but we had all in plastic bags. We never stopped for snacks and no one ate lunch either! I think that everyone was too focused on the trek. We actually, never stopped on our second time either. I guess that it depends on the group. We were told that the porters would be 10 dollars. I believe that we gave each 30 as they were fabulous. Oh, and we didn't get stung by nettles and yes, garden gloves are a must!
Also, I would not wear Wellies. would wear a hiking boot for the traction. Ankle support is great. And, we spent 3 weeks in Tanzania, rwanda and Zanzibar and never had to change our money. I am totally envious that you are going. Have a terrific time.
Patti
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Apr 6th, 2013, 01:33 PM
  #30
 
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You've gotten a lot of great advice from all of the others, Kaye - fodorites are awesome. Have a wonderful trip! Hopefully you'll get a chance to write a few words about it when you get home. Nudge nudge
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Apr 6th, 2013, 01:38 PM
  #31
 
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Oops, I said nudge nudge like "you get it?" but that really wasn't what i meant and i hate not being able to edit posts! I meant, of course, I'm really nudging you to write a little bit of a report. I know I'm making myself sound even crazier trying to explain. Oh well.
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Apr 7th, 2013, 03:37 AM
  #32
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Hi Patti

Oh no don't do this to me! Had already made up my mind to do the hard one first! Now a rethink is in order. Of course the decision may not be mine to make if I think others are worse off than me, but I do have rheumatoid arthritis and I also need a replacement, but my knee although I am fairly good on even ground not so great on hills and probably worse on mountains! Although it is amazing what I can do when animals and photography are involved, so may have to decide at the time. I cannot imagine not going on a walk and will have some strong drugs to take if I need to, always have them but have not had to take additional medication for nearly 10 years.
Good, no change in the sock over gaitor!
Interesting that you had no stops, maybe that was part of your problem. Will try and remember that, plus I am travelling with my sister who no doubt will be watching me as well. No I am not wearing wellies so that is another decision that can stay as is. Cannot imagine wearing them on such a trip, though clearly some have loved them.
When you say you never had to change money, does that mean you had US$? I will have to as I only have Aust$ and sadly they don't seem to be accepted quite as widely as the good old US$!
Thank-you I am fully planning on having an awesome trip!

Yes Leslie, they are! Thank-you again, I shall be doing just that! I will write a few words on my return and will happily post my photos, but that will be later as that always takes me a while. Leave home 19 May and return 23 June.
Just as well you explained that Leslie, as not sure I would have got that! No you are not sounding crazier explaining!

Thanks all!

Kind regards

Kaye
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Apr 7th, 2013, 07:13 AM
  #33
 
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I am curious to know if anyone has tried trekking to the gorillas in runners with an additional tracking advice attached to their shoes. See link below! Would these "traction systems" help if it was raining and the conditions are muddy/slippery?

http://answers.mec.ca/answers/9421-e.../questions.htm

Patti - I was surprised to read that you never stopped. What time were you back at your lodge? I assumed that we would stop after the trek for lunch. I had planned to pack extra sandwiches for the guides. CR
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Apr 7th, 2013, 01:31 PM
  #34
 
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Robin, what helped me best with slipping, sliding and slogging? My porter!

We stopped pn the way back down the mountain on my more difficult trek. I had forgotten to bring food but some others in my group gave me a banana.
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Apr 7th, 2013, 05:30 PM
  #35
 
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Have an incredible time and we'll all be watching for your trip report and photos!
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Apr 8th, 2013, 04:59 AM
  #36
 
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Hi, I am doing 2 treks in mid June and really enjoyed reading all the posts. I actually created a gorilla guide a few months ago based on information and tips from various sites so if anyone wants a copy let me know. It is a lot of the same advise that people have so generously posted here, but I also have information on the various gorilla groups - size, leader, camera gear, groups by easy, medium and difficult hikes.

I have a reconstructed ankle after a serious fall about 6 years ago and was planning on trying to do the easier hike day 1 and then I am up for whatever on day 2 since it is a travel day the next day so if I am limping it is ok.

I was going to use a raincover for my backpack, but love the idea of ziplocs or dry sacks for the camera gear. I will stick a few 2 gallon ziplocs in my backpack. Outdoor Research had a line of ultralight dry sacks - I think they have been discountinued, but you still may be able to find some online somewhere. I have them in several sizes to fit a dslr with smaller/medium lens up to my 600mm.

Question for you guys - how muddy do you get? Since we are trekking 2 days I was going to bring a set of cloths for the hike and reuse them the next day since why dirty a fresh set - does that make sense, or will they be so disgusting that I will want 2 sets?
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Apr 8th, 2013, 07:55 AM
  #37
 
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If you don't get rained on the first day you can re-wear the first day's pants. That's what we did - ours weren't very muddy. Or maybe even if you get rain they possibly could dry overnight. But after the second day in pouring rain our pants were so wet & muddy we left them folded by the bathroom waste can in our room. I did put a note that hopefully they could be of use to someone - I assumed they would be taken and appreciated - they weren't fancy but not old and torn either. I took them on the trip intending to leave them behind. It did feel a little weird leaving DIRTY clothes as hand-me-downs but they were just too wet to take in our bags and hopefully our housekeeper wasn't offended. Bigger ziplocs like the 2 gallon size you mention would be good for packing wet clothes if you do happen to get very muddy.

CR - those might help but also might be overkill and get you tangled up in the roots and vines you could be walking over. Sometimes we were walking a good distance on matted down vines that had us suspended in air - maybe a foot off the actual ground or more (if that description makes sense).

Also I was glad for ankle support from hiking boots. I had considered just taking trail runners but ended up happy to have boots.
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Apr 8th, 2013, 08:26 AM
  #38
 
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Leslie_S - Good to know! I picked up a couple $15 pair of khaki at Target and I think they are destined to be a donation after trekking.
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Apr 8th, 2013, 09:55 AM
  #39
 
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Mine were from Target too!
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Apr 8th, 2013, 10:42 AM
  #40
 
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Good point Leslie! The last thing I will need is to be dragging a bunch of vegetation up the mountain with me!
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