Uganda- Rwanda

18 days,  june- july  2005


Kind of travel: alone in a wholly independent travel

When: 24th june- 12th july 2005

How I moved: autobus, minibus (matatu), moped (boda- boda) and hitch hiking

Where I slept: cheap guesthouse and dormitory

What I liked: the peacefullness of the country despite its past, the fresh weather, the absolute lack of cars on the roads and travelling around on the mopeds (boda- boda).

What I disliked: being addressed as white man (mzungu), being packed like hell in the minibus (matatu), waiting at the bus station and the price for the Gorrila tracking (375$)

How much daily: Rwanda defenitely is not a cheap country! For eating, accomodation, pubblic means of transport  30$/day for a low budget travel + visa fees (60$ for every entry) + Gorilla tracking (375$)+ park fees (from 50$).

Freezing or baking?: fantastic weather (do u know the lowest point in the country is 970m?): warm and fresh!! It can be even chilly, bring a good sweter! 

Dangers: watch out bathing on the lakes (risk: Bilharzia) and protect yourself again mosquitos (risk: malaria). Obviously keep away from the off-limits areas like the Congolese and Burundian border and keep informed on the lastest news.

What you do need: if travelling by pubblic means of transport a lot of patience and don't forget a good flash lamp!!


I flew to Entebbe, a small nice town on the bank of lake Victoria that is a good welcome for those arriving in Uganda. It was midnight, hence I slept in a simple but convenient guest house very near the airport (Farba hotel, 9$). The following day by my first lift of boda boda, (on the back of a moped) and of matatu (crowded minibus) I reached Kampala. Hanging around here I spent one day and the next morning I was sitting on a comfortable private bus heading to Kigali. It took 9 hours (10$, breakdown included) and it has been an easy travel despite the long distance.
In Kigali I slept in the Muslim quarter (very typical) and the day after I arranged the Gorilla tracking. It was the 28th June and there was almost no more availability, since the whole July was overbooked (I'm sure about it)!! Luckily there was a place for the day after, so I didn't hesitate to book it and jump over a matatu (minibus) to Ruhengeri. It cost a fortune: 375$!!!!!!! (tips for the gorrilas tracking) In 2 hours I reached this "big village" that is the base for the Gorilla tracking in Rwanda. Here I met some other mzungu (whites) with whom I arranged the jeep to reach the head quarters of the park, one hour away from the town (try to share the cost since the round trip is 50$). I saw the Amahoro B family: it took from 8.00 to 16.00 by jeep, walking in the park tracking the Gorillas, spending one hour with them and coming back.
The next day I headed to Gisenyi by matatu (minibus, 2h) where I spent one very relaxing day on the clean and desert sandy beach. Gisenyi is the last place you wouldn't think to find in a country like Rwanda.
The leg Gisenyi- Kibuye has been the toughest of the travel: it took 9h to do less than 100km on a supercrowded rusty bus (read the story!! XXXXXX). However it was worthwhile, since Kibuye turned out to be located in a very nice area of lake Kivu.
The next day I reached Butare by matatu, via Gitarama (7h). Butare is definitely the nicest town I visited in Rwanda: very fresh climate, very nice people and more lively then Kibuye and Gisenyi, but calmer then Kigali. Here I spent 3 days visiting also the shocking memorial of Murambi, where hundreds of dead bodies are kept in 24 former classrooms.
Then by bus, matatu, taxi and finally boda- boda (moped) in 9h I did from Butare to the wonderful lake Bunyonyi in Uganda, where I rented a tent with the mattress (5$) and stayed for two days in a camping on the lake bank. My days here have been the best of the whole travel: here I met a Slovenian volunteer (Brigita) who took me to the local school where she was working for the last six months. This school is supported by Miha, a Slovenian guy who found out that lake Bunyonyi is his place and moved definitely here. Drop by their site: www.edirisa.org and have a look to the great job they're doing there!
After few days I set off again to the Queen Elisabeth National Park: thank to www.absoluteafrica.com had a lift from the lake to Kabale, then it took the whole day by bus, matatu, bus again, on foot, and finally private car to Mweya village. Here I found a cheap accommodation but I quickly realised it's not a good place to be without your own vehicle. I had the typical launch trip visiting the hippos and the elephant but then I was just looking forward to be again on the road. I had to beg a little bit some Germans for a lift from Mweya through the park till the main road where I hitch hiked till Kasese. The funny thing is that during the lift they diverted to chase the lions hence I even had my unplanned safari for free!! From Kasese I did by matatu just half way to Fort Portal then because of a breakdown they dropped me off on the road. By miracle after a while a bus passed by and let me to the town.
My money were running out so the day after I was in Kampala (6h, 10$) to withdraw some cash by the only one working visa ATM in Uganda. At end of the travel I spent two days at Bujagali falls (Speke campsite 5$) where I rafted (95$ full day) and it turned out really cool even if easily harmful.



To most of the people Rwanda sounds just as a dangerous place but a lot changed since the '94, when the genocide happened. In fact now it's a safe country where to be backpacked and meanwhile still a kind of virgin area for a traveller; if you want to do an "off-of-the-beaten-track" travel, Rwanda is your destination! Of course this has pro and cons: people are friendly, I didn't meet any dodges and overcharging was not common. However you are a mzungu (white) and this is how you will be often addressed. Personally I was quite bothered for this, and it was one of the main reasons why I felt more at ease in Uganda where I didn't feel an alien every minute I was among the people. I found a strange attitude of the locals towards me in Rwanda. A sort of respect (they wanted me to sit on the bus or everybody will greet you on the streets) mixed to a strong curiosity of interacting and observing me to such extent that often seemed like there were teasing me. For instance people commenting about me on the bus and laughing at me everything I did calling me loudly mzungu. I'm sure everybody wanted to be friendly, but after ten days I was a little tired of all this explicit attention.
One thing that won't help your travel is the irregular presence of electricity and fresh water, even in the main towns, but being a little bit organised it hasn't been a great deal.
On the other hand one of the best surprises for me has been the sunny and fresh weather: forget sweating and baking, in fact most of the time I was wearing a light sweater.
Another nice characteristic has been the frequent means of transports and the complete lack of traffic: you travel around the country on the white matatus (minibus) horning and rocketing over the desert roads, even if without enjoying the way since you will be suffering being packed like hell. The uncomfortably travels definitely were my main concern.
From the budget point of view Rwanda is not south east Asia, hence travelling is not peanuts, especially for the park fees (50$), the gorilla tracking (375$) and the visa (60$). Consider at least 30$/day for a single traveller.
One thing you've really to keep in mind: you are in Africa, you need to have patience; things will work out, but they need their time, in particular dealing with the public means of transport.
Obviously there are some off-limit areas are like the Congolese and Burundian borders from which it's better to keep the distance and keep informed on the insta



Funny stories






Although not being the reason of my travel to Rwanda, being there the Gorilla tracking was a must. Hence I booked it in Kigali, I painfully paid the 375$ and two days later I was trekking looking for them together with other five foreigners, a guide and an armed escort. Around the 2500 m the temperature is pleasant but once left the main track it started the fight against the green dense forest to open our way. No way to see more than few meters beyond the thick green wall and we could just guess about all the sounds we heard around.
The guide doesn’t know exactly where to spot the gorillas, since they move everyday, but he searches them by the binoculars taking into account their location the day before. It’s likely you’ll hear their rustle through the vegetation before seeing them, and this didn’t make me feel at ease. They were playing around us popping up and then suddenly disappearing, or stopping and observing us to such extent I wondered who at the end was the real visitor.
I was the last one of the group when one "juvenile" began to skirt the group settling down in the back. I didn’t dare to turn to see him and the rules were clear: it’s not allowed to get nearer than 5 meters to the animals, just to avoid transmission of disease. Hence the guide nervously urged us to move further but slowly. While everybody one by one was proceeding on the steep slope I felt somebody pulling my long pants: it was the gorilla. I wasn’t scared but a little bit nervous since I didn’t know how to behave.
The guide yelled me not to touch him, but he was the one touching me!!!!!!!!!
All the others guys moved out while I remained hold by the gorilla: he began to pull my pants as he wanted to climb me over, and I started to feel his weight. Then as the guide said me I sat down and the gorilla, always staying in my back, hugged me. He was touching me smoothly before on my chest then on my face. His big black hands were very soft and his touch on my eyes was like the one of a curious baby.
Then he aimed to my blond hairs, fortunately without pulling them too much :-)
The other guys tried to take some pictures but the guide halted them to avoid showing the gorilla we appreciated his behaviour.
Finally the guide pulled me out while the gorilla was trying to pull me back, then the guide pushed him away spanking him softly with a big leaf.
"Being a male juvenile he is quite curious, but it’s the first time he gets to such extent", he said, quite upset due to the long contact between me and the animal
Frankly at the end having known he was a male I completely re-evaluated the situation and I found it slightly less charming ;-)


Till Gisenyi travelling in Rwanda hadn’t been too hard: left out being really packed in the matatu (minibus), thanks to the short distances and the empty roads moving around had been quite fast. However I still had to face the hardest travel of the whole trip: the "wonderful and awful" 92-km between Gisenyi and Kibuye.
Around the 6.00 am I was already hanging around the bus station, namely an unpaved dusty area where a lot of people were lying waiting to wake up. I didn’t know the exact schedule of the bus, or better, it didn’t exist, but the day before somebody told me the bus was supposed to leave in the morning.  I had the feeling it would had been a long waiting so I sat down patiently; I felt like being an attraction at the circus, because people were staring at me and I could hear people chatting about the "mzungu" (white men). Everything I did was carefully observed and commented, but nobody really bothered me.
There was a frequent flow of matatus and buses, so several times I asked which was the right one, but either they didn’t know or they just said me to wait. I waited and in fact after 3 hours a big rusty yellow bus arrived. Then I saw a crowd rushing against it. There were mainly women and old men, but I got impressed by how they could fight to enter the small door. However nobody managed because of the severe conductor who kept them out, and let them to pass one by one selling the ticket.
A long queue of about 150 people formed and obviously I was the last one, almost without hope to get on. While I was standing there hopeless I heard the word "mzungu" echoing. It was the bus driver who was ordering the crowd to let me pass as first since I was the white! When I realised it I felt embarrassed and with my lousy french I tried to explain that it was nonsense since I was like them. However while I was standing trying to understand I felt a hand in my pocket: I turned the glance down and I saw a guy aside me getting my money. I caught them back and got on the bus without hesitation.
On the bus I was upset to hear the word mzungu shouted loudly in every speech among the entire crowd stuffed in the bus. It was boring to hear all my movements commented and even taking and drinking some water became a kind of show for them. Anyway I always smiled and being extremely kind to everybody.
It took 40 minutes to pack everybody inside the bus and start the long journey to Kibuye. I was sitting and wondering how the hell it was possible that the people could stayed so pressed without choking then the bus stopped again to load a bunch of other passengers.
"No way" I though, but somehow they managed.
The cruise speed was about 15 km/h on a small dirty road snaking on wonderful mountains along the Kivu lake. Green bananas trees and tea crops were everywhere.
After 15 min the bus stopped. It was a military checkpoint. Everybody got off, and I was already cursing thinking about the mess it would have been to keep my place busy, then the conductor said me:" Kids and whites stay on the bus!". I was so happy about it. Militaries came on the bus, checked around but didn’t even pay attention to me. Then the journey proceeded.
It took few hours when the usual breakdowns stranded everybody. I got off and I found out to be in the middle of a small village with something like 100 of people having nothing to do but looking at the white alien. At the end people are curious and they just want to be kind, but I was quite embarrassed to feel so much attention on me. A girl came to me offering a bamboo; I removed the thick bark biting it and I ate the soft white flesh. People were staring at me like waiting for something. I didn’t know what, but then I realised I was supposed to spit it after having chewed. So I did, and everybody wowed. I spent one hour in the village enjoying the company of the locals and trying to communicate, they turned out very helpful.
Then a new SMALLER bus came. As before there was a violent rush to get in, and I was the last one of the queue, but this time any conductor let me to pass. I found myself in the situation half an hour before I would have trembled just thinking to be, namely standing pressed like the hell.
The bus was already started up when once again the word mzungu was echoing around, it seems some people were arguing about something regarding me, and immediately after I realised that they didn’t want the bus to leave if the white man wasn’t sitting. Somebody tried to stand up to let me to sit, but I insisted he stayed in his place. People were looking at me surprised, without understanding why I refused. Finally I stood, but it didn’t take that much to regret about it. The journey continued in a wonderful landscape and people offered me fruits and snacks, but it took 8 endless hours.


.Giugno 2004, Kampala

...Africa, Africa, Africa, ma perche' e' sempre cosi' dura scoprirti???

E' un po' che oramai sono in viaggio: atterrato in Uganda ho proseguito via terra verso il confine Rwandese.
Lo so che il termine Rwanda suona come sinonimo di guerra e disperazione, e che un viaggiatore che procede in sola compagnia della sua inseparabile zanzariera e' dato per spacciato molto in fretta.
Ma non e' cosi',.... almeno non completamente :-)
E' vero che questo paese ha recentemente vissuto dei drammi, ma la gente e' riuscita a reagire con un ottimismo e un sorriso che non passa inosservato. Anche le centinaia e centinaia di prigionieri che sono ovunque a lavorare, indossano dei completini rosa con relativi shorts che fanno dimenticare chi li guarda che sono ai lavori forzati.

La prima parte del viaggio e' stata stranamente tranquilla ed ero anche abbastanza sorpreso, tra l'altro di aver incontrato pure un bianco (Australiano) diventato velocemente un ottimo compagno di viaggio, anche se altrettanto in fretta ci siamo dovuti separare. Infatti io mi sono diretto la parte piu' selvaggia del paese, quella orientale al confine con il Congo. Ed e' allora che le cose non sono andate piu' cosi tanto lisce.
Una mattina mi alzo molto presto, devo raggiungere una cittadina a una 90ina di km da dove mi trovo. Dovrebbe esserci un mezzo; qualcuno mi ha detto alle 6.00 qualcuno alle 7.00, qualcuno alle 14.00. Giusto per non sbagliare sono alla stazione (gare routiere) alle 6.00. Un' enorme area sterrata usata anche come dormitorio; mentre arrivano i primi furgoncini la gente si sveglia fino per diventare in poco il posto piu' frenetico di tutta la citta'.
Gia' a 100 m di distanza inizio a sentire risuonare la parola "mzumgu" e non saranno state molte le persone nei dintorni che non fossero venute a sapere che "un bianco stava gironzolando da quelle parti".
Mi siedo per terra nella grande sterrata e aspetto arrivi il mezzo, mentre come al solito c'e' la passerella di persone che passa a guardami piu' o meno con la stessa curiosita' con cui poco tempo prima io guardavo i gorilla nella foresta.
Gia' verso le 7.00 decine di mezzi di ogni tipo arrivano e partono e io ogni tanto chiedo se ci sia quello per la mia destinazione, ma nessuno sembra saperlo. Dopo 2.30h invece ecco arrivare un enorme bus giallo donato 20 anni prima da Giapponesi al Rwanda (almeno cosi' era scritto sulla fiancata). Un'altrettanto enorme folla (150 persone(?)) si getta contro la portiera e tenta di salire. E' un inferno, gente che si tira di quelle gomitate da staccare la mascella. io decido di starne lontano. Le mamme con i bebe' avvolti in un lenzuolo dietro la schiena sono le piu' pericolose: picchiano a manate chi gli sta di fianco senza pieta' piuttosto di passare . Io mi ritrovo tipo ultimo di un grande imbuto che finisce schiacciato contro la lamiera del bus. Proprio mentre pensavo che questa volta non sarei davvero mai riuscito a salire, sento a mo' di eco un passaparola lungo tutta la coda."mzumgu, mzungu,…".
E' il grassissimo conduttore che a calci tiene tutti giu' dal bus per farli entrare uno ad uno riscuotendo il biglietto. Lui ha visto una macchia bianca in fondo e vuole che mi sia data la precedenza. Si apre un canale tra la folla e io mi sento un po' Mose', mi faccio avanti chiedendo il perche' e tutti mi invitano a passare (pure le temibili mamme con bebe').
Mentre sono davanti alla porta preso dallo sconcerto, sento un qualcosa toccarmi i pantaloni. Abbasso lo sguardo, mica becco uno che mi sta fregando i soldi? Ha un po' di mie banconote, io gli afferro la mano, lui lascia i soldi e io mi ritrovo a non sapere se preoccuparmi di quel giovanotto ben vestito o pensare al bus.
Senza dire nulla gli lascio la mano, mi prendo i soldi e salgo.
Ci e' voluto un ora per impacchettare tutti nell'autobus, quando vedendo la gente letteralmente soffrire ringrazio dio di avere un posto seduto. Il bus parte, fa una decina di km in una strada sterrata e si ferma. una decina di altre persone devono salire. Io penso che sia impossibile e invece ce la fanno. Sull'autobus non si sente altro che la gente che parla del mzungu e ogni movimento che faccio tutti si girano a guardarmi. Quando ho bevuto, devono aver scoperto con grande stupore che anche i bianchi bevono. Onestamente ero un po' irritato...
Ad un certo punto l'autobus si ferma. Si e' fuso il motore non si puo' piu' proseguire. Siamo in un desolatissimo villaggio di montagna e scesi tutti sono rimasto da solo sul bus. Decido di scendere anch'io. Appena metto piede per terra sento lo stupore generale delle persone del villaggio riunite tutte intorno stile anfiteatro.
Sono molto imbarazzato e non so cosa fare. Una ragazza ridendo corre verso di me e mi da in mano una specie di bambu'. Mi fa cenni di spelarlo con i denti, io ci provo, non mi riesce, tutti ridacchiano divertiti dalla scena. Lei lo prende e lo spela a furia di ganasciate facendo emergere la polpa bianca e me lo restituisce.
Si forma un circolo intorno a me con un ragazzo che fa da traduttore. Io spiego che vorrei comunicare con le persone ma mi e' difficile.
Un signore si fa avanti con la prima domanda e cosi' inizia una conversazione con il villaggio e passeggeri del bus.
Ma quando dopo un bel po' arriva un bus sostitutivo (piu' piccolo) io mi ritrovo ancora ultimo e questa volta il conduttore a far da domatore non c'e'.
Questa volta mi ritrovo in piedi schiacciato come una sardina. L'autobus sta per partire e ho tutti gli sguardi verso di me. Sguardi di compassione come se fossi l'unico a soffrire. La parole mzungu rinizia a circolare. Sento un po' di trambusto intorno a me. Capisco che c'e' un problema. Le gente non vuole che il mzungu stia in piedi.
Inizia una discussione intorno a me, fanno alzare di forza uno per trovarmi il posto.
Io rifiuto.
La gente non capisce e insiste e io ancora rifiuto. Con il mio francese stentato spiego che non c'e' ragione perche' tra me e loro non c'e' differenza. Un signore schiacciato da soffocare insieme agli altri mi risponde:
" Noi siamo Africani, tu no".
Io rifiuto ancora e ho l'impressione che proprio nessuno abbia capito.
Il viaggio durera' in tutto 9 sofferenti e interminabili ore...

Prima di partire avevo letto un report di un tipo circa una specie di memoriale sul genocidio. decido di andarci. Con i mezzi arrivo nei pressi del confine con il Burundi a 30 km da questo luogo. Contratto con un ragazzo in motorino. Lui mi dice di sapere dove' e mi ci porta.
Siamo in mezzo a delle verdissime colline coltivate a banani e corriamo per un po' lungo una strada prima asfaltata poi sterrata, fino alla sommita' di una collina dove si trova una ex scuola. Mi viene incontro un signore evidentemente zoppo. Non e' di molte parole e mi accompagna fino ad una porta di ferro. Capisco che si tratta di una ex aula.
Gli Hutu hanno fatto una strage, mi dice.
Lui apre la porta ma non entra, io faccio un passo dentro quando subito sento un odore fortissimo. Roba da far venire da vomitare, metto a fuoco e vedo una moltitudine di cadaveri su assi di legno, che riempiono tutta la stanza.
Sono cosparsi di polvere di gesso, ma molti hanno ancora i capelli. Sono impressionanti, perche' si possono riconoscere gli adulti dai bambini e vedere le loro espressioni, le posizioni delle mani, la postura nel momento in cui erano morti. Certi rannicchiati, altri abbracciati.
La maggior parte sono stati uccisi a colpi di macete e infatti si vede il cranio fracassato. Non ce la faccio a rimanere troppo dentro: dopo qualche minuto esco.
"Sono stati uccisi in un giorno e mezzo 27.000 Tutsi, ne abbiamo tenuti 1.800, in tutto sono 24 stanze piene", mi dice sottovoce.
Tra di loro c'e' tutta la sua famiglia, lui invece e' scappato nelle montagne. Mi apre altre stanze, in una c'erano solo bambini, alcuni piccolissimi....
Dopo una decina di stanze mi sento nauseato, e non mi viene neppure in mente di tirare fuori la macchina fotografica. E quando lui mi chiede perche' non faccio foto, sorpreso io gli rispondo che non sapevo se fosse il caso.
Lui reagisce con una rabbia che sembrava sepolta:
" Devi fotografare e soprattutto devi raccontare perche' tutti devono sapere!!"


   Travel tips


      It's not a very cheap country!!
      People calling you MZUNGU!!
      Use local guides
     Private matatu (minibus)
     Off limits areas
      Unrealible powers

      Booking in Kigali
      Getting there


Visa: single entry visas are issued at the border (Gatuna) for 60$.

Yellow fever vaccination is compulsory. Besides I got vaccinations for:
-hepatitis A/B 

Besides I got Lariam pills to prevent malaria, I didn't have any particular side effect due to Lariam as it's said, left out some depression after the last pill back from the travel...I didn't figure out if the depression was for Lariam or for the end of the travel or just a psychological influence. Anyway I didn't commit suicide ;-)
My suggestion is to prevent from mosquitos to bite using repellents, a mosquito net and a burning spiral
Watch out from bathing in every charming lake you will find; unfortunately Bihlarzia is quite spread. Ask to the locals.
Motion sickness: I’m not prone to suffer for motion sickness, but it turned out useful to have something for it; the roads are empty and the minibuses rocket.

I changed Dollars, but even euros are commonly accepted.
ATM: there’s no VISA ATM in Rwanda and it seems the only way to get some money by VISA card was in Kigali but paying 14$. On the opposite it’s plenty of Western Union money transfer counters.

I'll list just the main stuffs:
-mosquito repellent spray
-mosquito repellent burning stuff
-a flash lamp with batteries change
-a good knife... to eat bananas ;-)
-I do not reccomend trekking shoes. I had sport shoes
-long linen pants and short ones
-s sweater


It's not a very cheap country!!
.Forget travelling with less than 30 euro/day, unless you don't travel walking, sleeping on the side of the road and eating bread ;-),... Accomodation are the main expense.

People calling you MZUNGU!!
You'll hear a lot of people calling you MZUNGU, it means white man. To me it doesn't sound so friendly, depite  their aim is not to offend you.

Use local guides
Getting a local guide is often the best way to avoid bothering people but the risk then, is that to be stuck in a turistic root.

Private Matatu (minibus)
For most of the connection between the main towns there’re the public minibus and the private ones. I suggest you the formers, since, even if slightly more expensive, faster and relatively more comfortable.

Off limits areas
Keep away from the off-limit areas like the Congolese and Burudian borders. Ask about the latest news.

Unreliable power
If you have a digital camera bring more batteries since the power in the city is really unreliable.


Booking in Kigali
The gorilla tracking in Rwanda cost 375$ to be paid in hard currency in Kigali.
I cannot say you if it’s 100% worthwhile the money: I’m happy I did it, but it's a lot of money, especially for a low budget traveller like me.
Take into consideration that one of the nicest aspects of the tracking was to trek through the wildlife in the Vulcanoes National Park and you can climb the Vulcanoes crossing it for one third of the price staying even two days instead of few hours. If you have a tight budget, this is a good alternative.
Anyway remember that gorilla tracking in July and August can easily be overbooked; don’t expect to do it when you want during this peak season..

Getting there
On top of the 375$ fee, you have to provide your own mean of transport from Kigali till the starting point of the track (that depends on the group of gorillas you’ll visit).
First of all from the capital reach Ruhengeri (2h, matatu). Here you have to sleep one night and leave in the early morning (5.30 am) to the park headquarters Of course there’re no matatu around there, so the best it’s to arrange a pick up with other travellers (2h from Ruhengeri, 50$).
The meeting point is at the park head quarters at 7.00 am in the morning, where the groups of max 7 people for each of the 5 families of gorillas are formed. Theoretically you can gather for the group you want, but it seemed some people had already booked in advance for a particular group (for the Susa one, for instance).
Then you get on your vehicle again till the starting point that depends on the group you’ll visit.
It’s also possible to sleep near the headquarters and ask for a lift from here to the starting point of the track to the rangers (your guides), but it’s not the most popular choice.

You don’t need any particular equipment, just use long pant and long sleeve shirt. I brought a pair of gloves (the one you use in the garden) and they turned out very useful against the sting needles. We spot the gorillas at 2700 m so it can be chilly, bring a sweater!