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The Gerudo are a desert-dwelling race in the Legend of Zelda series. They are predominantly female, and almost all of them are tall and fair-skinned with red hair. Gerudo are a proud people, and much of their culture is based on honor and strength.
Gerudo law forbids men from entering their territory, so the only males seen in their society are either born to Gerudo women or are outsiders who have managed to sneak past their defenses.
The Gerudo are experts in combat, and many of them wield swords or bows. They also have access to some of the most powerful magic in Hyrule. The Gerudo are often allied with the Royal Family of Hyrule and often serve as guards or warriors in the Royal Army.
But there’s much more to learn about this unique and closed-off race. Read our Gerudo guide to find out more!
Key Details Up Front
As the Legend of Zelda games continue to evolve and expand, so too does the role played by the Gerudo. But who are the Gerudo and what can you expect when you encounter them? Those are just a few of the questions we’re going to answer in our Gerudo guide.
Who are the Gerudo?
When playing Legend of Zelda games in which the Gerudo are included, you’ll almost always find them in the desert. This race is typically located in the Gerudo Valley or the Gerudo Desert. For example, in Ocarina of Time, you’ll find them gathered in the Gerudo Fortress.
They reside in the Desert of Doubt when you play Four Swords Adventures, and you’ll find them in Gerudo Town while playing Breath of the Wild. The lone exception is Majora’s Mask, where they’re living on the Great Bay, which is a coastal area.
One Man Each Century?
An interesting tidbit about the Gerudo is that they consist entirely of women, with the exception of one man, who is born once every century. This man becomes the King of the Gerudo. However, when there is no King, the Gerudo default to a chief as their leader. Typically this position is passed down through mother and daughter.
While this type of phenomenon is never actually explained in the Legend of Zelda canon, some insight is provided in Ocarina of Time.
A shortage of men within the Gerudo forces the women to take boyfriends from other races. Typically these boyfriends are human, which is the case in Breath of the Wild. Gerudo women will also marry the men they love, but won’t settle within the walls of Gerudo Town.
If you run into a Gerudo as you explore Hyrule and other lands, you’ll recognize them by the following characteristics: red hair, sharp noses, and dark skin.
Often they’ll have amber-colored eyes, but in Breath of the Wild, Gerudo eyes are green. The Gerudo use mushrooms they find in the wild to help keep their skin looking youthful.
You may also discover that some Gerudo have pointed ears while others may have rounded ears. For example, Gerudo in Majora’s Mask and Ocarina of Time have round ears while in the Breath of the Wild they are pointed.
The lone exception in Ocarina of Time is Ganondorf, whose ears are pointed when Link enters the adult timeline. However, the game implies that this could also be a result of Ganondorf getting his hands on the Power piece of the Triforce.
There are two explanations in Breath of the Wild as to why their ears evolved from round to pointed. The first one suggests that by marrying Hylian men – who have pointed ears – the Gerudo ears have slowly changed to having a point. The other reason says that due to their shame over Ganondorf, they were able to open up their ears in a manner that allowed them to hear the voices of their goddesses.
While witches Kotake and Koume from Ocarina of Time are roughly 400 years old, this is not typically how long a Gerudo would live.
It’s clear these two have extended their lives through the use of magic. However, Gerudo age at a must faster rate than Hylians. For example, Riju, the chief in Breath of the Wild is only 12 but appears much more mature than her age indicates.
For the most part, the Gerudo tend to keep to themselves. They don’t take kindly to non-Gerudo, which is why they’re typically found in the desert. However, they are typically the most resistant to Hlian visitors.
In Breath of the Wild, nearly every other race has a male representative, with the exception of Hylians. It’s such a point of contention for the Gerudo that merchants are not allowed to sell men’s clothes.
Despite this, Gerudo warriors will acknowledge talent when it’s evident. If an outsider has an exceptional talent or skill, the Gerudo will accept this person into their ranks. Since they’re a race of warriors, they are knowledgeable about the use of high-quality weapons like scimitars and glaives.
Because they worship different entities, Hylians suggest that the statue of the Desert Colossus is evil. The Gerudo no longer share the Hylian belief in the Goddess Hylia, which makes for challenging relationships.
However, the Gerudo do believe in an afterlife as evidenced by the mention of ancestors who watch from beyond the grave.
In Breath of the Wild, the Gerudo worship their divine protectors, the Seven Heroines. These seven goddesses embody the virtues of the Gerudo: gentleness, knowledge, endurance, flight, skill, spirit, and motion.
You’ll find the Gerudo in several Legend of Zelda games. Here are places where you’re likely to encounter this unique and reclusive race:
This is the first Legend of Zelda game in which you meet the Gerudo. They reside in the Gerudo Desert, which is located in the Gerudo Valley.
To access the valley, visitors must cross a bridge that crosses a gorge with a river flowing below it. Since most Hylians consider the Gerudo nothing more than thieves, they do not get many visitors.
When Link is young, the bridge to Gerudo Valley is guarded by many warriors stationed at the gate. However, when Link is older, those defenses are depleted. As a result, the Gerudo chose to remove the bridge altogether.
Within the Gerudo Fortress – which is a large building the Gerudo live in – are several cells in which they imprison those who attempt to gain access to their territory without permission. Near the fortress are a few training courses: the Gerudo Training Ground and the Horseback Archery Range.
If you can prove yourself a master at either of these tasks, the Gerudo will accept you as one of their own. It’s not going to be easy, though.
Chain of Command
Since he is the only Gerudo male, Ganondorf is the king of the Gerudo by default. When he is away, Nabooru is in charge. She is very respected within the Gerudo community. However, when Ganondorf begins to use methods with which she doesn’t agree, she rebels against him.
In addition to Ganondorf and Nabooru, the previously mentioned witches, Kotake and Koume are also viewed as controlling the Gerudo tribe from their perch in the Spirit Temple. Upon Nabooru’s rebellion, she is abducted by the witches and taken to the temple. She is freed when Link defeats Kotake and Koume, revealing her to be the Sage of Spirit.
While the Gerudo take a break from the desert in Majora’s Mask, the pirate/thief theme persists. The tribe is located in the Great Bay of Termina and is referred to as the Gerudo Pirates.
Townspeople consider the Gerudo as both frightening and fierce. However, they do not have a king in Majora’s Mask. They are instead led by Aveil, Gerudo Chief.
Before Link arrived in Termina, the tribe stole eggs from the Zoras. They did this in an effort to obtain information on how to access the Great Bay Temple.
Legend says that it holds a great treasure, which the Gerudo want to get their hands on. Unfortunately, the Gerudo lost three of the eggs they stole, which they must attempt to recover before someone else does.
Retrieving the Eggs
When a Zora comes to take the eggs back to their rightful owner, the Gerudo attack him. Link finds him suffering from his injuries and agrees to return the eggs to where they belong: the Marine Research Lab.
Link is tasked with infiltrating the Pirate’s Fortress, getting past their guards, and retrieving the eggs. He does so by shooting a huge beehive, which scares off the boss, Aveil, and her followers.
With the eggs safely in his possession, Link returns the stolen goods to the Marine Research Lab. The Gerudo attempt to follow Link but can never quite seem to catch him. When he heads to the Great Bay Temple, they try to follow on their boat but are soon overtaken by an enormous cyclone circling the temple.
After the events of Twilight Princess, the Gerudo find a home in the Desert of Doubt, located in the southwest of Hyrule.
There they begin to work on making amends with the Hylians by denouncing Ganondorf and welcoming outsiders into their territory. In Four Swords, the Gerudo appear to be nomadic as they are found living in tents.
Located within the desert is the Desert Pyramid. The pyramid is a holy and sacred place among the Gerudo and is home to the Trident. No Gerudo is allowed to enter into the Desert Pyramid.
To the shock of his followers, Ganondorf enters the pyramid due to his lust for power. However, many believed he would eventually be overwhelmed by his hunger for more power and perish.
Unfortunately, this was not the case and the Gerudo chose to close the path to the desert to keep others from entering and gaining access to the Desert Pyramid. As a result of his disobedience, when Ganondorf grabs the Trident, he is changed into Ganon, the game’s protagonist and the King of Darkness.
Because of Ganondor’s trespasses, when the Links first attempt to enter the Gerudo village, they are rebuffed. However, once the Gerudo learn that the Links are attempting to locate the Purple Maiden, the way is opened so they can pass through unimpeded.
In Breath of the Wild, the Gerudo people mostly live within the walls of Gerudo Town, which is located in the Gerudo Desert.
Riju, their chief, leads them in all things and is the one to whom Link must speak to gain access to Divine Beast Vah Naboris. Riju is a young chief since she was thrust into the throne at the untimely death of her mother.
While the Gerudo are mostly a peaceful tribe, men are still not allowed into their homes or into Gerudo Town. Link must sneak in dressed as a woman, although he is easily identified as a man by some within the town. To get aboard Vah Naboris, Link must retrieve the Thunder Helm, which is heavily guarded by the Yiga Clan.
Once he has the helm, he must return it to Riju, who will then take Link into the desert and aid him in his attempt to quell the Divine Beast and defeat the Blight within.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Gerudo and the role they play in The Legend of Zelda, here are some of the more frequently asked questions.
Question: Who are the Gerudo?
Answer: The Gerudo are a race of mostly human women who live in the desert. They are known for being thieves and for their dislike of men.
Question: Do the Gerudo Have Any Male Members?
Answer: Yes, there are a few male Gerudo who are born to the tribe every hundred years.
Question: What is the Gerudo’s Relationship with Ganondorf?
Answer: The Gerudo are not loyal to Ganondorf and have often tried to distance themselves from him. However, they do recognize him as their king.
Question: What is the Gerudo’s Relationship With the Hylians?
Answer: The Gerudo are not loyal to the Hylians, but they are not enemies. They often work together, most notably in Four Swords.
Question: What is the Thunder Helm?
Answer: The Thunder Helm is a sacred item among the Gerudo. It is a helmet that allows the wearer to control thunderstorms. It was originally stolen from them by the Yiga Clan.
In the Desert
If you play a Legend of Zelda game that came out in the last 20 years, there’s a good chance you’ll run into a Gerudo. Whether they’re wandering around Hyrule in search of a boyfriend or husband or hanging out in the desert, this tribe is known for its fierce warriors.
Keep your composure and show them what you’re capable of and before you know it, you’ll be accepted as one of them.
Continue reading more about Zelda’s races: