Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations, Guidelines and Tips
There are Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations plus Guidelines to help visitors get the best out of the tracking encounters. These rules are targeting human and gorilla safety, apply similarly in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo in their respective national parks. When heading for the tracking exercise to see Gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda, one should look out for the rules and regulations that govern trekking. This will bring maximum enjoyment and safety for humans and the endangered primates.
Before Departing for Gorilla Trekking
Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.
On the way to the Gorillas
a) Please always keep your voices low. You will then also be able to see the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
b) You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way
c) Do not leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back with you
d) A maximum number of 6 visitors (8 in DR Congo and if trekking one of the larger groups in Rwanda) may visit a group of habituated gorillas in a day. This minimises behavioural disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
e) When you approach the Gorillas, the guides will tell you to get ready.
When you are near the Gorillas:-
a) A 5-meter distance should try to be observed at all times (15 feet) from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
b) You must stay in tight group when you are near the gorillas.
c) Keep your voices down. However, it is OK to ask the guide questions.
d) Do not eat or drink while you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases
e) Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides directives (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes as you wait for them to pass). Do not try to take picture and do not attempt to run away as it would increase the risk.
f) Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
g) Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals. They might look cuddly but!
h) The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
i) After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 metres from the gorillas.
General Health Rules:-
a) Remember gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following are ways to decrease the risk your visit might pose to them:
b) Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors granted to track the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
c) If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternative visit would be arranged for you, or be given back your money.
d) If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth to reduce the spread of bacteria or viruses.
e) Always stay 5 metres (15 feet) away from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
f) Do not attempt to touch the gorillas.
g) Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are with the gorillas.
h) Do not leave any rubbish (e.g. food wrappers) in the Park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
i) If you need to defecate, whilst in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 centimetres deep and fill it when you are done.
Gorilla Trekking Procedures
- Before setting out wash your hands
- You should not eat or drink near the gorillas
- Keep away at least 7 metres from the gorillas and make a retreat if they come closer
- Feel free to ask your guide some questions but in low voices
- In case you have cold or flu, do not trek as gorillas have no immunity
- Assess your physical fitness as some degree of strength is necessary. In some instance you always lobby for shorter treks to nearby gorilla groups
- Flash photography is not allowed as it scares the gorillas.
- Keep you came in waterproof bags
What to Pack
- Light rain coats
- Light-weight trekking trousers plus long-sleeved tops
- Strong hiking boots or shoes with ankle support
- Gardening kind of gloves to handle nettles on the trek
- Binoculars for clear visibility