10 Gorilla Trekking Rules You Need to Know: There is no more soulful encounter in the natural world than getting close to a family of mountain gorillas. It really is the wildlife safari experience of a lifetime.
However, it is also important to know that mountain gorillas are highly endangered species. And, even on the responsible gorilla trekking safaris we always pose a threat to them, as we carry in bacteria and diseases. Gorillas can also be stressed if there are so many visitors or if visitors behave inappropriately.
Which is why the ‘Gorilla Trekking Rules’ were established by Uganda and Rwanda conservation authorities. Just because you have paid a lot of money for your gorilla trekking permit to see these gentle giants of the forests, doesn’t mean you have a right to do what you like.
Here are 10 essential gorilla trekking rules you need to Follow:
1. Are You Feeling Sick?
If you are feeling sick or show any sign of illness on your gorilla trekking day, kindly let your guide or the park staff know. They might decide to prevent you from trekking the gorillas on that day. Exposing gorillas to disease may be catastrophic for the entire population of these great apes which are highly endangered. Also, if you are near the gorillas and need to sneeze or coughplease look away and cover your face with a cloth.
2. Trekking Group Size and Frequency:
Each of the mountain gorilla family groups in Uganda and Rwanda is visited daily – only once. The trekking group size is limited to a maximum of 8 visitors. And your interaction with the mountain gorillas is limited to a maximum of one hour. If the gorillas become agitated, however, your guide may end the visit early.
3. Minimum Visitor Age for Gorilla trekking:
The minimum age for tourists who want to do mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda (Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park) is 15 years old. This is to prevent exposing the gorillas to childhood diseases such as chickenpox, mumps, measles, and others. There is no maximum age for mountain gorilla trekking.
Read our guide for gorilla trekking for the very old.
4. No Flash Photography:
Flash photography is not permitted when taking photos of mountain gorillas. The camera flash may frighten them or provoke an aggressive reaction from these gentle giants.
5. Maintain a Minimum Distance:
You must remain at least 7 metres (21 feet) from the mountain gorillas. Gorillas especially young ones may approach you, in which case you should retreat slowly to gain the recommended distance if possible. Never attempt to touch a gorilla. They are completely wild animals.
6. Remain in Your Trekking Group:
Try as much as you can to remain in your trekking group. This will make it easier for your guides to manage the situation and to prevent the mountain gorillas from feeling threatened.
7. Your Behaviour While with Gorillas:
Remain seated or crouching and keep your arms at your side when spending time with gorillas.
Keep quiet – even when filming a selfie. Shouting, standing or gesturing with your arms may be perceived as a threat by gorillas. Silverback gorillas (adult male gorillas) have been known to beat their chests, roar and even charge at visitors. If this happens, remain seated and avoid eye contact with the gorilla.
These threat displays look and sound scary but the gorillas soon calm down and go about their business without harming anybody.
8. Eating, Drinking and Smoking:
You are not allowed to eat, drink or smoke near gorillas. This may attract gorilla attention, leading to unwelcome close encounters. Your food may also be bad for the health of endangered mountain gorillas.
9. Toilet Activities On A gorilla Trek:
Please go to the bathroom before you set out on a gorilla trekking adventure. If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, you will need to dig a deep hole to bury your faeces for about 30cm and fill the hole up afterwards. Your guides will lend you a machete for this purpose but you will need to bring your own toilet paper.
10. Don’t Litter:
Please keep all of your rubbish or garbage in your backpack. You will deposit it back at your lodge after the gorilla trekking tour.
You May Also Be Interested in What to Pack for A Gorilla Trekking Tour?
Here is the list of items to pack for a successful gorilla trekking tour;
- Bring neutral coloured clothing which are lightweight and can dry quickly. High humidity in the gorilla parks coupled with uphill trekking can be sweaty business on a gorilla trekking safari.
- Carry a rain jacket or a waterproof poncho.
- Pack gaiters: These will help to keep sand, grass seeds, and insects away from your ankles and socks.
- Pack lightweight waterproof trousers and can tuck into socks or fit under gaiters for protection against stinging nettle.
- Do not forget a safari sun hat even if it is rainy season or not
- You will want good hiking boots or closed hiking shoes you have walked in before. Pack comfortable, non-slip, ankle support.
- Bring a camera and do not forget that carrying a long zoom lens will be heavy. Opt for a mid-size lens, and bring along a cloth as a fogged-up lens when capturing a gorilla’s portrait will not do!
- Don’t forget to carry a waterproof backpack as you will want to keep your valuables like cameras and binoculars dry.
- Yes, pack garden gloves because in dense parts of the rainforest; you’ll want protective gloves to push vegetation aside.
- Take a good walking stick which is lightweight to provide you a bit of support, and to move vegetation out of the way.
- Remember to pack your sunglasses and don’t forget that tinted fashion glasses may look good in your photos, but your eyes will thank you for polarised lenses or UV protection.
- You can come with some cash because after your incredible time with the gorillas, you may want to tip your guide.
- Take at least 2 litters of water and some energy giving snacks to keep you going throughout your gorilla trek.
Ideal Gorilla Trekking Safaris;
After understanding the rules for gorilla trekking, now it is time you consider booking one of our tailor-made gorilla trekking safari packages:
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