Rwanda gorilla trekking

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May 5th, 2012, 05:37 PM
  #1
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Rwanda gorilla trekking

We are going on 2 gorilla treks in late August. We are staying at the Virunga Lodge. My husband and I had a trip planned 30 years ago and then I got pregnant and we had to cancel it. I can finally see our way to go this summer. I am worried because i have arthritis in my hip-years of tennis and high impact activity. I have pain even without a strenuous climb but it is manageable. I am working on strengthening my body for this trip and feel that if I don't go now then when??? I have always loved physical challenge but this is making me nervous. Any thoughts based on your experiences?
Thank you.
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May 5th, 2012, 05:59 PM
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Tell your agent, tell your guide/driver, tell the Virunga mgmt when you arrive, and tell your porter of your situation. Maybe you'd like to hire two porters (very inexpensive--$10 when I last went a few years back, maybe double that now) to offer extra assistance to you. They are incredibly strong, surefooted, and helpful.

Most people doing the hikes are not athletes and some are quite elderly. Lots probably have similar concerns to yours.

You can decide on which group to visit the morning of your hike. The rangers and trackers usually have a good idea of which groups are easier and which are harder to reach and they can give you the easier group. Their projections are not 100% accurate, though.

You do not have to go fast on the hike up.

Also tell your doc about the trip and practice in advance with a higher dose of pain med, if you can get something prescribed. That should help during the hike and after.

This is good advice for everyone, but especially for you--have footware that is comfortable and broken in. Make sure it works with your orthotics, if you ware them. Maybe consider being fitted for orthotics now and get used to them, if you don't have them. Orthotics halted my hip pain years ago, though it was not arthritis related.

Virunga has a masseuse I believe. Plan on some post-trek massage sessions.

Good luck and have fun. Late Aug is a perfect time to go.
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May 5th, 2012, 06:36 PM
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Oh, one more thing to consider. Do you get cortisone shots or something similar? If so, time the shot so that you have it shortly before you leave for max effect. The schedule for receiving cortisone shots is usually no more than every 3 months. If you've never had one, you could try to arrange your first shot very soon and see how you react. If fine, then 3 months later would be about mid-August, just right.
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May 6th, 2012, 05:21 AM
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Another useful hint for anyone: Be sure to say yes when asked if you want a walking stick. They are always offered. Tell your driver/guide you want one and he can assist in choosing one that is the right height for you. You can even buy a hand carved stick that also serves as a souvenir, either at the ranger station or just before the walk. But there are always frees ones for your use that you return when done.
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May 6th, 2012, 06:28 AM
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Thank you so much for your response. Will make sure that I have some meds. great idea. Can i wear sneakers or so I need hiking boots?
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May 6th, 2012, 08:55 AM
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... and don't forget to purchase Trip Insurance within 10/days of making initial deposit to cover for 'pre-existing' conditions. Just in case!
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May 6th, 2012, 11:35 AM
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Wear something with good ankle support, something more substantial than sneakers.
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May 7th, 2012, 07:57 PM
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Get two porters--or even three if you think you'll need them. There's certainly no shame in it, it's easy to arrange, it's inexpensive, and those guys (really appreciate/need the work.

On my feet, I wore these and they worked very well for me:

http://www.merrell.com/US/en-US/Prod...oab-Ventilator

I stayed at Kinigi Guest House, which would probably make you faint , but did visit Virunga Lodge. It's beautiful and looks very, very comfortable. You'll have a great trip. Enjoy!
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May 10th, 2012, 09:05 PM
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I did the hike in 2008 when I was 62, with arthritis in knees and have never been in shape. They put me first so everyone had to climb at my rate so as not to leave me behind. The guide stopped a few times when he felt I was too short of breath, but everyone was very kind and understanding, no one seemed annoyed that I held them up. In fact, my husband was glad I was first so no one realized he was as much out of shape as I was. It was raining, the climb was steep and fairly long but we made it. I had reserved 2 days but no one ( me, husband and 2 adult sons)wanted to go the second day as it was still raining and we hadn't recovered from the day before. Went to see the golden monkeys instead. I think you'll do OK, take your pain meds and hope it doesn't rain.


Karen
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May 11th, 2012, 06:36 PM
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Thank you everyone for your help. We also have 2 days booked. I think that the weather should be good at the end of August? I will request an easy hike and get good shoes and pray!!!
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May 11th, 2012, 06:49 PM
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There is a really wide variety of hikes; stress to your guide or to the rangers when you turn in your permit that you want an easier hike, and they can accommodate you. If I remember correctly, the Kwitonda group is a relatively short hike and they tend to live down the foothills so its less of a climb. It's also one of the larger clans, as an added bonus.
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May 12th, 2012, 05:21 AM
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Having just returned from trekking in Rwanda I can tell you that nearly 90% of the people trekking now ask their guide and at the ranger station for the "easiest and shortest treks." The variety of reasons (medical and other) was astounding. The fact is that the rangers can only accomodate very few people on the shortest or easiest treks.

We also requested a short trek due to medical reasons, we ended up trekking 2 1/2 hours each way. That being said it was an incredible experience and would do it again in a minute.

In our group, both days, they put the slowest person at the END of the group, not at the front as we have heard in the past.

Also just a note on the altitude. We really didnt have a heads up on this one. Yes, I understand that mountain gorillas live in the mountains, but did not realize we would be trekking at 9,000 ft , nearly 2 miles above sea level. We live at sea level so it was quite a shock to us. In fact almost everyone in our group had problems with the altitude.

Overall it is a great experience, just passing along some info to help you be prepared.
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May 12th, 2012, 09:45 AM
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I agree about the altitude. I run six days a week but was tired on those hikes--because of the altitude.

I suspect the number of people requesting easy treks varies each day. When I was there two years ago most people wanted the longest, most challenging hike (I think it was to see the Sabinyo group, if my memory is correct).

A great experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat!
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May 12th, 2012, 10:18 AM
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Patrissimo, I strongy recommend taking a collapsible walking stick so that you have two for the trek. Another fodorite had recommended this. I had injured a knee and so I packed a lightweight aluminum, collapsible walking stick and it was absolutely invaluable. On our two treks we didn't just walk an upwards slope, we spent a great deal of time climbing up onto steep muddy footholds, and jumping down from others. Having two sticks to lever myself and take my weight evenly made it so much easier! and I had no knee pain or problems whatsoever. Having a porter to help was a plus.

According to our guide, the Sabyinyo group is the "easiest" group as sometimes they are right beside the wall. I believe it is the Susa group that requires a much more demanding trek.
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May 12th, 2012, 11:21 AM
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Right, it was Susa that everyone wanted to see. I saw Agashya and Amahoro.
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May 12th, 2012, 03:11 PM
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Hi Patrissimo

I am going to do the Rwanda Gorillas in May next year with my sister who is an excellent hill walker. I like walking but only do flats. I have rheumatoid arthritis in too many joints to mention, and also will need a knee replacement sooner rather than later. Also had severe pain with both neck and back injuries. Started pilates around 4 years ago and have really improved out of sight.
I am definitely going to do two days as not sure when I will get the chance to return and I am also open to the harder walks. I know I will probably be in some pain but have decided it is now or never and will take suitable pain killers with me, though I always do though have not have to take them for many years. This is an opportunity that has taken a long time to come around, though not 30 years as in your case, so am not going to miss such a golden opportunity.
If I think I am the worst walker, then I am going first as otherwise I will push myself to keep up and in the long run that is going to be bad for the group and worse for me. Be a bit pushy and say you will go first and as others say, break when you need to and use whatever help you can get! Definitely wear good footwear for mountain walking in rough conditions.
I have decided it will be worth the pain to sit for 2 hours with gorillas! Besides which I always feel in perfect health when I am gameviewing in Africa - my passion for the animals way exceeds the pain and I can recover on the plane trip home and when I get home get additional treatment!
Have a fantastic trip and tell us about it when you return!

Kind regards

Kaye
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May 12th, 2012, 04:01 PM
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Hi KayeN,

I too have RA and am making the trek (before it is too late) to see the gorillas, if only for the allotted hour.

Humira (and running) has been the miracle cure for me--I hope it lasts, but if not I hope to say, I have been to Africa.

Best wishes to you!

PD
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May 12th, 2012, 07:44 PM
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My porter, Innocent, from the day I trekked the Amahoro group. He was wonderful, kept me from slipping the mud quite a few times!

http://www.pbase.com/leelygoes/image/127478582
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May 13th, 2012, 05:25 AM
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Hi Pollydill

That is interesting as I was also on Humira, which was a fortnightly injection for me. Now on Simponi which is a monthly injection - very expensive here as $1900 per injection which I get through Medicare, our australian health system. Hate the needle but along with the pilates has made a huge difference as now only on two other drugs with the needle. And yes I do not want to use this as an excuse for not doing stuff. Good luck!

Kind regards

Kaye
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May 27th, 2012, 07:23 PM
  #20
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Thank you everybody for your continuing advice. I feel a bit relieved that others with arthritis have done the treks. I am not on any medication, but will bring lots of advil and am strengthening my body for the experience. I am very excited!!!!!
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