The Rules and Guidelines for Gorilla Trekkers, including COVID-19 Protocols
Gorilla Trekking- Rules – Guide Lines – The Do’s and Don’ts for Gorilla Trekkers
Includes Uganda Wildlife Authority COVID-19 Protective Measures-Standard Operating Procedures
Simple to follow Gorilla Trekking- Rules – Guide Lines help keep everyone safe, secure, and healthy. The same applies to the Gorilla Family Visitation. Many Human Illnesses such as respiratory diseases, including COVID-19, can be transmitted to them.
During these Post-Covid Pandemic Times, the Gorilla Trekking Rules and Guidelines have been updated by Uganda Wildlife Authority to protect the endangered Gorillas and Humans.
The DNA of Gorillas is 98.4% like Humans, and they are prone to the same diseases as we are, including COVID-19. At present, about 20% of Gorillas die of respiratory diseases.
Gorilla Tourism contributes to the Gorilla Conservation efforts. That is not related to the Coronavirus shutdown but due to the conservation efforts that tourism directly supports.
Gorilla Conservation is at the forefront, and the trekker is secondary, though critical in funding conservation efforts of the endangered Mountain Gorillas. As Gorilla Trekking has reopened, a COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedure has been put into place to protect the gentle giants of the forest and humans.
How Safe is Uganda during the COVID Pandemic in 2022?
The excellent news for Ugandans, Visitors to the country, Tourists, and Safari-Goers is that Uganda is a safer COVID Pandemic Travel Destination. On April 30, 2022, Uganda will be the safest Pandemic Safari Destination in East Africa. We suggest that you go to the regional newspaper, the East African, for more information about the status of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, South Sudan, Kenya, and Tanzania. Those are the present member states.
On April 27th, 2022, the Ugandan Ministry of Health announced that all COVID patients in hospitals had been discharged with a clean bill of health. On April 13th, there were only two patients hospitalized with COVID-19. New infections are all-time low, yet preventative measures must be continued.
Uganda reopened for Business earlier in the year. Kampala, the city before the pandemic, was a city that never slept, woke up, and partied all night. Schools, Churches, Mosques, Sports and Music Events, and public transport all came back to life.
The Uganda Ministry of Health , as of April 27, 2022, no longer requires incoming or outgoing passengers who are fully vaccinated to take a COVID PCR test. Mask requirements have also been eased.
Uganda has a long and successful record of accomplishment of fighting disease outbreaks, and it also fought a most successful fight against HIV-Aids. Crack medical teams are well trained in case of an Ebola outbreak, usually contained in a short period of time. With that background, Uganda implemented a containment strategy for the COVID Pandemic, receiving accolades from near and far.
Gorilla Trekking- Rules – Guide Lines – The Do’s and Don’ts for Gorilla Trekkers
The Rules have been updated to meet the COVID-19 Safety and Protection Standards. The Same Gorilla Trekking- Rules – Guide Lines apply to the 4-hour Gorilla Habituation Experience in The Rushaga Area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda, except for only four participants. The Minimum Age for Gorilla Trackers remains at fifteen years.
COVID-19-Protection: Wearing a Facemask is mandatory for Gorilla Trekking
The wearing of a face mask while in the presence of the gorillas is required during Pandemic Times.
A mask protects trekkers and gorillas alike. The Mask is the required gear on primate treks in Uganda. The masks protect primates from human respiratory diseases that humans can pass to them when in proximity—one reason for the now ten-meter distance Rule.
The Masks, if properly worn, will protect the endangered Primates as they help block the transmission of microorganisms such as droplets, sprays, splatters, and splashes. The mask also reduces the likelihood of hand-to-face contact.
All those visiting primates must wear masks to reduce the risk of transmission of respiratory diseases to Gorillas and other primates.
What you need to do before the Gorilla Trek:
- Proper Gorilla Trekking Wear and Gear: Long Trousers, a long-sleeved Shirt, and Waterproof Hiking Boots are well worn. A hat, a wide-brimmed hat, is the best. Thick socks that you can tuck your trousers into for added protection. You will need extra face masks.
- Have a comfortable waterproof Daypack: We suggest you have a light daypack to put your lunch from the lodge. We supply two liters of water, Photographic Equipment, and insect repellent, which repels the mosquitoes (keep in a Ziplock bag). Add a small bottle of sanitizer and keep it light since you will carry it in and out.
- Use the services of a Porter: We highly recommend that you use the services of a porter. We feel so strongly about porter services that we automatically include them for our clients. They carry your daypack which frees you on the trek, and they assist you on challenging portions of the trek.
- Obtain a Walking Stick: Use a Walking Stick to steady yourself on the gorilla Trek. We automatically furnish our clients with walking sticks.
- Cancel the Trek if you are ill: If you are sick with flu, cough, cold, or stomach ailment, be a Hero, and for the sake of the primates, do not trek. We have had two clients that have done so. Surveys have shown that most continue with the trek even if they are ill. We suggest that you cancel the day for the sake of the gorillas.
Gorilla Trekking Briefing and Orientation:
Your Gorilla Trek begins with a Briefing and Orientation at the trailhead where your Trek begins and ends. Besides wearing the proper clothing, masks are required. Handwashing Stations are there, and you are required to wash your hands or sanitize them upon arrival. Please the distancing rule of two meters or six feet.
- Temperature Screening: The mandatory temperature screening using non-contact infra-red thermometers at the critical tourism
- Gorilla Family Assignment: You are assigned to a Gorilla Family based on your input, your physical stamina, your level of fitness, and your age. A maximum of eight participants will track the assigned Gorilla Family.
- The Trekking Briefing: The Ranger that will lead on the Trek is the one that will brief before heading out. You will be instructed to conduct yourself on and trek during the Gorilla Encounter.
- If you are ill: Tourists, staff, and porters who, during the briefing, are observed to be sick shall not be allowed to track the Gorilla. These include anyone with signs of flu and those who report having diarrhea, stomach upsets, and malaria, among others.
- Face Masks must be worn: Tourists, Ranger, and Porter all must wear a fresh mask during the orientation.
- Before heading out on the Trail: Wash or sanitize your hands once more.
During the Trek to and from your Gorilla Group:
- Follow the instructions of the Rangers: The rangers know what is best in the wild, and they also want you to have a memorable experience. Follow the leader along tracking trails and stick to the group for your safety, but even so that you can listen to him explain the attractions seen along the way to the mountain gorillas.
- Keep your Voice low: You are requested to keep your voice at a low volume as you head to track the mountain gorillas and even be quieter when you finally meet them. It is so that you do not disrupt their peace and allow you to enjoy other wildlife species along the trail, especially the birds, golden monkeys, and butterflies.
- Keep a two-meter distance from others on the Trail: This is one of those enforced rules. Please allow a span of two meters or six feet from other trekkers.
- Breaks on the Trail: Breaks maybe taken depending on the fitness level of the group.
- Do not pick flowers or plants: Leave everything as you find it. Do not pick flowers, plants, or roots. Only leave your footprints behind, and the only to take with you are pictures.
- Final Instructions before the Gorilla Encounter: You will be given some last-minute instructions before you come near the gorillas. You will be asked to sanitize your hands once more.
- Medical Issues: If a tourist or accompanying team members experience a health-related problem, UWA staff shall apply the established evacuation and first aid guidelines to move the affected individual from the field.
- Medical Emergency: If a Trekker or accompanying team members experiences a health-related problem, UWA staff shall apply the established evacuation and first aid guidelines to move the affected individual from the field to the nearest hospital or clinic.
- DO NOT LITTER! Pack it in and pack it out: Like in any national park or protected area, you are advised to keep any form of garbage with you. If you have a backpack, please put all trash into it, and you can always empty it at a designated disposal point when you return to the briefing area. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park are fragile ecotourism sites that need to be kept free from litter.
- Using the Toilet on the trail: Should you need to use the toilet, please speak to a ranger to advise you accordingly on how to do it ecologically.
In the presence of the Gorilla Family
- Keep a ten-meter Distance: You must keep a distance of ten meters from where the mountain gorilla family is. This distance is maintained to reduce the chance of transmission of diseases such as COVID-19. Infections can spread to the gorillas or from gorillas to humans.
- Wearing a face mask is mandatory during the Gorilla Encounter:
- No Eating or Smoking: Eating or smoking while in the presence of mountain gorillas is prohibited.
- No Flash Photography: Flash photography is also prohibited with the gorillas, and it frightens them unnecessarily.
- Time with the Gorillas: You will be allowed a total of 60 minutes with the mountain gorillas to watch them foraging, playing, and going about their usual business of the day, after which you will be required to leave the family.
After the Gorilla Trek:
- Debriefing: Time for the Gorilla Trekking Certificate of completion. There is also time for feedback with the tracking team.
- Return to Lodge: Your Driver-Guide will meet you and return to the lodge.
For further Gorilla Trekking Information, please take a look at our Gorilla Trekking Information Page. You will be glad that you did.