The Rules and Guidelines for Gorilla Trekkers
Gorilla Trekking- Rules – Guide Lines – The Do’s and Don’ts for Gorilla Trekkers
Simple Gorilla Trekking- Rules – Guide Lines help to keep everyone safe, secure, and healthy. The same applies to the Gorilla Family you are visiting. They can catch a cold, the flu, intestinal problems, and more. The Rules and Guidelines are there for the protection and well-being of the endangered Mountain Gorillas.
Simple Do’s and don’ts are quickly followed and are strictly enforced. Gorilla Conservation is at the forefront. The trekker is secondary though important in the funding of conservation efforts of the endangered Mountain Gorillas that are found in the Virunga Volcanoes and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Your permit Dollars pay for the conservation of the Gentle Giants in the Forest. They also help the local community to see that Gorilla Trekking by receiving a portion of the Gorilla Permit, which is used to pay for the infrastructure of nearby villages.
The Gorilla Trek begins with The right Trekking Gear, wearing the proper footwear and clothing on the day of your safari and enjoying your time with a Gorilla Family.
Gorilla Trekking Gear and Wear
- Hiking Boots
- Thick Socks – tuck trousers into socks
- Long Trousers
- Long-Sleeved Shirt
- Light Rain Jacket
- Tough Gardening Gloves
- Protective Face Mask-This is to protect Gorillas from respiratory diseases.
The Gorilla Gear and Wear is for your protection. Do not trek wearing a tank-top unless you are immune to nettles.
The Gorilla Trek is not about making a Fashion Statement but your comfort. Having the right stuff will make a difference. Your comfort and protection should be your concern as it is ours.
Gorilla Trekking- Rules – Guide Lines – The Do’s and Don’ts for Gorilla Trekkers
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 4 participants.
Daily, before the actual hike commences, Trekkers meet at the briefing point to go through a short briefing procedure in which some of the gorilla tracking rules and guidelines below will be reiterated.
Before gorilla tracking starts:
- A maximum of 8 tourists or visitors is allowed to track a particular mountain gorilla family or group daily. It is in line with guidelines from promoters of ecotourism and protectors of these iconic species – the gorillas. This limitation reduces the behavioral disturbance that humans would cause to the mountain gorillas and minimizes the chances of transferring diseases from humans to the gorillas.
- Ensure to have your hands washed before you head out for the gorilla trek. A hand sanitizer that is 60% alcohol will work.
During the hike:
- You are requested to keep your voices at a low volume as you head to track the mountain gorillas and even to be quieter when you finally meet them. It is so that you do not disrupt their peace but also to allow you the opportunity to enjoy other wildlife species along the trail, especially the birds, golden monkeys, and butterflies.
- Follow your tour guide through the gorilla tracking trails and stick to the group for both your safety, but also so that you can listen to him explain the attractions seen along the way to the mountain gorillas.
- DO NOT LITTER! Like in any national park or protected area, you are advised to keep any form of rubbish or garbage on you. If you have a backpack, please put all trash into it, and you can always empty it at a designated point when you return to the briefing point — this a fragile ecotourism site that needs to be kept free of any form of litter.
- Should you want to use the toilet, please speak to your guide to advise you accordingly on how to do it ecologically.
- As you approach the point where the rangers observed the mountain gorillas the day before, you will get the final briefing before your next few steps to where the family is. You are often requested to leave your walking sticks and baggage at this point.
When you are with the Mountain Gorilla Family
- You are required to keep a distance of about 7-meters from where the mountain gorilla family is. Though habituated, mountain gorillas are still wild animals. If they feel threatened, the silverback (alpha male mountain gorilla) will usually lead the family away or even charge at you in the form of retaliation. This distance is also maintained to reduce the chance of transmission of diseases. Diseases can spread to the gorillas or from gorillas to humans.
- Eating or smoking while in the presence of mountain gorillas is prohibited.
- Before you reach the family, you are requested to switch off your camera’s flash. Flash photography is also prohibited while 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.
- Don your Face Mask. At present, it is not required, however, in the light of coronavirus pandemic it is strongly recommended by us.
- Do not pick flowers, plants, any wildlife during the trek.
Interaction with Mountain Gorillas:
Often, a person will write and tell us that that they want to interact with the Mountain Gorillas. The answer is a straightforward no. You are an observer during the Gorilla Trekking Encounter. On the Gorilla Habituation Experience, you are also a participant in the actual habituation process.
There are instances where Gorillas have initiated interaction with humans. Some of them were recorded and are found on YouTube. Such are out-of-the-ordinary times and should not be expected as the norm.
What you saw on YouTube is not to be expected on your Gorilla Safari. Gorilla Trekking is an up-close encounter (7 meters distance) with the Gentle Giants of the Forest. There is no comparison to the exploitive Wildlife Encounters that you can find in various parts of the world, including Africa.
Before you set off on your Mountain Gorilla Trek
Be in reasonable shape and have the level of fitness for the group you will be tracking, depending on the terrain you will be covering. There are easier treks, and you can ask for one. Remember, the average trek is 5 hours plus in both countries with various levels of difficulty. People with Disabilities can be carried in and out on Sedan Chairs by porters.
Minimum Age is 15 for Gorilla Trekking in both Uganda and Rwanda. If you have younger than 15-year-old children, we will provide an activity for them. Ig
Have no communicable diseases, cold or flu, TB, diarrhea, and any other infectious diseases, Having any contagious disease means canceling the trek, this is for the protection of the gorillas who can catch such things from humans.
To ease the burden of the Trek, engage the services of a porter.
Obtain a tall walking stick locally. Your driver-guide will assist you. Walking Sticks steady you on the Trek.
Rules for Gorilla Trek:
Up to 8 visitors are allowed on a tracking (trekking) team since more would disturb and or emotionally upset the Mountain Gorilla group you are visiting. This limit of 8 visitors also reduces the Mountain Gorillas exposure to illnesses that humans may have.
The Gorilla Habituation Experience, which is four hours with a gorilla family, can also be taken in the forest, and here, only four visitors are allowed to a group.
As you hike through the forest, keep your conversations low. Silence might be the best since otherwise, you might miss other wildlife or the abundance of birds found at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla Park in Uganda, and or Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
Pack it in and pack it out. Do not leave anything behind, such as rubbish, since it would spoil it for the next visitors and pollute the park.
Your Mountain Gorilla Tracking experience will begin where the guides found your Gorilla group the day before and track them to their new location since they move daily. Pre-trackers go out ahead of you to locate your gorilla group.
Mountain Gorilla Etiquette Guidelines:
Keep a distance of about 6 to 7 meters, which is about 15 feet from the Mountain Gorillas. This way you protect the mountain gorillas from diseases and illnesses humans may be carrying and not seem threatening to gorillas since you
Stay together as a group when you are in the presence of the Gorillas. That reduces the potential confusion of the gorillas.
Voices need to be kept low, and it is best to stay silent and treasure the moment with the Mountain Gorillas. Keep your views down until you are well out of range of the Mountain Gorillas.
Do not take food or drinks and no smoking in the presence of the Mountain Gorillas.
Don’t stare straight into gorillas’ eyes – this can be seen to be aggressive. Don’t ever run from a gorilla – if one approaches you to act submissive and crouch down. If you sneeze or a cough, turn your head away from the gorillas. Do this in order not to spread your germs. Cough into a tissue or your elbow. No flash photography is permitted. Do not make a lot of movement when taking pictures-keep it calm. There is no touching or attempting to touch the Gorillas.
Gorilla Trek Health Guide Lines:
Since Mountain Gorillas are closely related to us, they are susceptible to diseases carried by humans. You, in turn, can catch bugs from them.
If you need to cough, sneeze, blow your nose, move your head away from the gorilla to keep the risk of infection to a minimum.
No smoking, eating food, or drinking of beverages is allowed in the presence of the Mountain Gorillas.
If you are ill- cancel your Gorilla Trek – this is best for all concerned, especially the Gorillas.
Before the Trek – eat right, drink right, take medications that you might need. Avoid getting a cold, a runny stomach as they say here, and anything else that could hinder your time of trekking.
Keep the 7-Meter Distance from Gorillas – Every gorilla trekker wants that incredible-up-close encounter with the Mountain Gorillas. You can – 7 meters is an up-close encounter. For the protection of the endangered, keep the 7-meter rule. Yes, you want a gorilla selfie. However, you are in the wild. You are in the living quarters of the Gorillas. You are a guest. Keep the 7-meter distance.
It is not required that you wear a face mask gorilla trekking. We, however, strongly suggest it since it makes common sense and protects the endangered mountain gorillas from respiratory ailments that trekkers may have. It is especially true as the dreaded coronavirus has spread across the globe.
Protective Face Masks may not be the best garment for selfies, but the well-being of the mountain gorillas is more important than a selfie. It is not only about their health but yours. A mask protects you from ailments that they might be carrying.
In 2020 wearing a face mask is the right thing to do. At present, it is still voluntary. That, however, might soon change and again because of the coronavirus spread.
We strongly urge you to purchase at least one mask for each gorilla Trek, also for Chimpanzee trek. The masks should be worn during the actual primate encounter. Be proactive in protecting the mountain gorillas. We also suggest sanitizer towels (60% alcohol) or wipes for hand cleaning.