Getting to experience a Gorilla Trek in Uganda or Rwanda is truly an unforgettable and inspiring experience. Hiring and using a porter during your trek can make your journey more comfortable and enjoyable. In fact, if there is one thing that could actually make your Gorilla Trek better – it is hiring a porter. While they will be helping you during your trek, you will be helping them and their local community.

So what is a porter?

The porters are local members of the community, men and women, who accompany you during your trek. They will carry your gear, your snacks, and water, freeing up your hands. They are experienced in the terrain and can help you maneuver through the terrain, and even give you a pull or push if needed. Many of them can provide insights into the experience and share their knowledge about the animals and the country, their families, and their traditions.

Each morning, they arrive at the meeting stations where they wait to see if they will be given a chance to accompany guests during the trek. Some of the porters are ex-poachers who have realized the value in gorilla and wildlife conservation to their communities. Being a porter (and guide) has allowed them to provide an income for their family that does not include the illegal activities of poaching. This small fee of $20 for a porter directly benefits the porter, the family, and the economy. It’s worth every penny spent, and more.

In my recent adventure to Uganda and Rwanda, it was very interesting to meet and learn about the porters with us. One was a student who had learned English by watching movies who shared with us his plans for his future to become a ranger. I had one porter who said I was the same age of his daughter. He held my hand and at times, pulled me up the steep mountain climbs. He would randomly hand me my water bottle to make sure I stayed hydrated. During one of the treks, I didn’t need the assistance of my porter near as much for walking on the terrain, but it was nice to not have to carry my camera bag, and listening to him laugh during the guide’s presentation was well worth any money spent. On of one of our treks, there was an elderly lady who had saved and waited her entire life to meet the gorillas. She hired two porters who accompanied her on either side to help her walk during some of the rougher areas. She was a trooper and managed to walk most of it, but without the porters, I don’t think she would have made it. When she saw the gorillas for the first time, she burst into tears and hugged her porters and the guide. It was a moment I will always remember – watching her face light up and knowing how grateful she was to be experiencing this.

Hiring a porter isn’t just merely a convenience, but it is a meaningful decision to provide a better experience for yourself as well as contributing to the community and conservation efforts. It’s a win-win!

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