The Rules and Guidelines for Gorilla Trekkers with COVID-19 S.O.P.
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. They are prone to the same diseases as we are, and that includes 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. The trekker is secondary, though important in the funding of conservation efforts of the endangered Mountain Gorillas. As Gorilla Trekking has reopened, a COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedure has been put into place that protects both the gentle giants of the forest and humans.
COVID-19-Protection: Wearing a Facemask is mandatory for Gorilla Trekking
The wearing of a face mask while gorilla trekking is required during Post-COVID-19 Times. It protects you and others. The Mask is the mandatory 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. It is required that all those visiting primates wear masks to reduce the risk of transmission of respiratory diseases to Gorillas and other primates.
We supply those who are on Safari with us Face Masks and Sanitizer. Including small sanitizer bottles for your Gorilla Trek.
We suggest that you read more about wearing masks while on a safari in Uganda. We have detailed information and including how to don and take off a mask.
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 there are only four participants. The Minimum Age for Gorilla Trackers remains at fifteen years.
COVID-19 Gorilla Trekking Standard Operating Procedures
What you need to do before the Gorilla Trek:
- Proper Gorilla Trekking Wear and Gear: Long Trousers, a long-sleeved Shirt, Waterproof Hiking Boots are well worn in. A hat, a wide-brimmed hat is the best. Thick socks that you can tuck your socks into for protection. You will need extra face masks. We will provide you with a Walking Stick for the trek.
- Have a comfortable waterproof Daypack: We suggest that you have a light daypack to put your lunch that you obtain from the lodge. We supply two liters of water, Photographic Equipment, 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.
- No Porter unless necessary: Uganda wildlife wants to minimize the number of participants during post-COVID-19 Times on treks in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla Park. This can only be done by reducing the number of porters on a hike. If you have a disability or physical condition, then a porter can be arranged. A sedan chair for the impaired can also still be arranged. Since there are no porters to assist you in most cases, we suggest that you pack it light.
- Cancel the Trek if you are ill: If you are sick with flu, cough, cold, 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, for the sake of the gorillas, that you cancel the day.
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 right 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 given instructions on conducting yourself on and trek and during the actual 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 fresh masks on the trek. Two masks are required for the trek.
- Before heading out on the Trail: Wash or sanitize your hands once more.
During theTrek in and out:
- Follow the instructions of the Rangers: The rangers know what is best in the wild. They also want you to have a memorable experience. Follow the leading along tracking trails and stick to the group for both 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 voices 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 a distance of two meters or six feet from others.
- Breaks on the Trail: Wearing a mask on a longer hike at a higher altitude can be exhausting for some. Fresh it will be taken on the way in and out of the forest. Social distancing will be enforced during breaks on the trail.
- Do not pick flowers, plants: Leave everything as you find it. Do not pick flowers, plants, roots. Only leave your footprints behind. The only to take with you are pictures.
- Final Instructions before the Gorilla Encounter: Just before you come near the gorillas, you will be given some last-minute instructions. 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: In the case, a Trekker or accompanying members of the team 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.
When you are with the Mountain Gorilla Family
- Keep a ten-meter Distance: You are required to 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.
- No Eating or Smoking: Eating or smoking while in the presence of mountain gorillas is prohibited.
- No Flash Photography: Flash photography is also prohibited while with the gorillas. 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.