In Uganda, Rwanda or DR Congo, their respective wildlife authorities set up Gorilla Trekking Rules, Tips and Guidelines to help tourists on the best tracking encounters. When heading for the tracking exercise to see Gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda, one should observe strict rules, regulations and procedures that govern trekking for maximum enjoyment and safety on the part of 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 observe 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 out 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 inform 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 whey you are near the gorillas.
c) Keep your voices down at all times. 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 minimize the risk your visit might poses to them:
b) Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with 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 alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded 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 in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
e) Always stay 5 metres (15 feet) away form 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 in when you are finished.
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 disallowed as it scares the gorillas.
- Keep you came in waterproof bags
What to Pack
- Light raincoats
- 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