Gorilla Trekking Rules & Regulations
Gorilla Trekking Rules & Regulations are the guidelines set by the park authorities that a traveler must follow in order to have a successful Uganda Gorilla Tour. Planning to have a gorilla trekking Safari? Or just want to know about Gorilla trekking safaris?
Whatever your state, you should know that gorilla trekking safaris are some of the most thrilling adventurous and memorable safaris in Africa. These safaris are done in either one of these 3 African countries Uganda (Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, & Mgahinga Gorilla National Park), DRC (Virunga National Park, & Kahuzi Biega National Park), and Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park) with each country having different gorilla permit prices and packages. However, there are general rules that govern gorilla trekking that you should keep in mind when on a gorilla trekking Safari.
Most of these rules and regulations are normally communicated to you at the briefing session that happens 30 mins or an hour before the gorilla trekking starts and if you are not sure of anything that has been communicated, your trekking ranger can always re-echo these rules.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t hurt to know these rules and regulations beforehand.
You should know though trekking these gorillas is a great tourism activity and brings in a lot of revenue to these different countries, gorilla conservation comes before your trekking experience meaning at any one point your safari, decisions may be made to favor the wellbeing of the gorillas and this may or may not affect your trekking experience.
The Gorilla Trekking Rules & Regulations include:
- Washing hands: Before you start the trekking activity you will need to wash your hands and a disinfectant strategy to reduce the germs on your hands, however, you can also wear gloves, gloves are more practical and efficient.
- Distance between you and the gorillas: It is advised to always keep a 7-meter distance between you and the gorillas; this distance helps reduce the chances of you spreading any disease to the gorillas because gorillas share almost 90% DNA with humans, they are susceptible to any disease humans suffer. Also, the gorillas are not aware of this so in some cases they may tend to get close to you, in these cases it’s upon you to walk away from them gently in a way that doesn’t frighten them
- Voice tones and volumes: When in the company of gorillas please keep your voices low, high voices frighten the gorillas and they can easily run from you and you don’t get to see them, worse still they make get irritated and charge at you. Trust me you don’t want a gorilla to charging at you. So it’s in your interest to restrain from high tones and volumes
- Excitement: To finally be in close proxy with these endangered species, is exciting and we all express our excitement differently, however for the gorillas’ sake and your own sake, keep your excitement controlled and moderate, too much excitement or uncontrolled excitement will agitate the gorillas and cause them to become defensive hence charging at you.
- Photos and videos: We all want to take pictures and videos of gorillas, to document our moments with them. This is totally fine, however when taking photos and videos of gorillas; don’t use flashes. That flickering light easily irritates the gorillas and they can charge at you to stop the flickering light.
- Staying in a group: when going for a trekking activity you will be grouped with other people 7 other people to be precise and you will all be assigned one ranger who will take you through the forest to the gorillas and back to the park. The forests are thick and you can easily and quickly get lost in it, so it’s wise for you to stay close with your trekking group, not to wander off or be left behind by your ranger. This is because you alone you are susceptible to attacks from wild animals in the forest and also you can be lost in that forest for a long time before you are found, which is something you wouldn’t want to happen to you on your safari.
- Sickness: If you are sick or feel sick, weak or not healthy at all that day, please restrain from trekking, one for the gorillas’ sake to not spread diseases to the gorillas and for your sake, you may get worse on the trekking experience with no medical help and if it gets out of hand you may actually die in the forest. Because of the different dynamics of the forest and the trekking and activity you may not get proper medical attention in time.
- Coughing and sneezing: Don’t cough and sneeze while facing the gorillas, this increases the chances of you spreading infections to the gorillas because gorillas share almost 90% DNA with humans, and they are susceptible to any disease humans suffer.
- Littering: please restrain from littering the forest, with food wrappers, water bottles, leftovers, etc, littering the gorillas’ habitat can be harmful to them and in some cases fatal; hence all efforts to keep it as natural and organic as possible. So everything you bring in the forest should return back to the park with you.
- Feeding the gorillas: Don’t feed the gorillas with your snack or even any food even if its forest food, one the gorillas have their own feeding habits and time that contribute to their wellbeing so you feeding them will disrupt that. Two of your food or snack or your hands and fingers may carry germs that may cause harm to the gorilla. Three in the moment of feeding the gorilla can harm you with its teeth or nails.
- Eating and Drinking: Please don’t eat or drink in front of the gorillas, this attracts them to you and when they are close to you, you never know what can happen, plus the chances of spreading the disease to them is high.
- Smoking: Avoid smoking around the gorillas, the smoke can be irritating to the gorillas and they may move away from you if not come at you.
- Clothing: Wearing the right outfits and footwear are very important for your trekking experience, avoid unsuitable outfits because they will make you very susceptible to forest accidents and insect bites.
- Time with the gorillas: Don’t exceed your time with the gorillas, you always trek with a ranger who will time you from the moment you find the gorillas until the one hour elapses, so when he/she tells you your time is up please cooperate and leave the gorillas because exceeding your time with the gorillas increases their chances of catching human diseases that may be fatal to them. Plus your presence may agitate them and cause them to charge at you.
- Observing the gorillas: Observe the gorillas but be careful not to over stare at them or look directly in their eyes, this can easily upset them off and cause them to charge at you.
- Unnecessary movements: Avoid unnecessary movements when you are with the gorillas, these unnecessary movements agitate them so to keep them relaxed, and your movements should be minimized.
- Gorilla pathways: On your trek, if you meet Gorillas on the move, please allow them to pass, don’t get in their way and if you are in their path please step aside and allow them to pass. Trust me if you don’t get out of their way, they will make you get out of their way by force and this may be fatal. Note that even if they are using a designated footpath, for as long as they are passing let them pass; your ranger will be there to direct you on how to give the gorillas way if this happens on your trek.
- Gorilla getting close to you: When a gorilla gets close to you, don’t be alarmed, stay calm, walk away slowly, please don’t run away and if you feel unsafe, signal your ranger he/she will guide you on how to walk away safely. You should know because humans have similarities with gorillas, gorillas’ getting close to you is relational. Please don’t run away from them, they will become defensive and can harm you in the process. Just move away slowly and gently to keep the 7 meters distance.
- Gorilla conservation: As stated above, conserving the mountain gorillas is primary though you are supposed to spend an hour with the gorillas, if before the one hour the gorillas, show signs of agitation and nervousness; your ranger will be forced to end your time with the gorillas prematurely. Kindly follow the rangers instructions don’t cause a commotion, just follow the instructions. So that the gorillas can keep their peace and calm with is extremely beneficial to their livelihood.
- Commotion in front of the gorillas: please avoid any disagreements or commotion in front of the gorillas, they may perceive it as a danger to them and charge at you.
- Things that can annoy the gorillas: Please restrain from anything that can annoy the gorillas or get them agitated, the ranger will have examples of these things and also if you are doing that thing the ranger will duly inform you so that you stop it. But in all you do, don’t annoy the gorillas they will turn on you bad, you won’t like it for your safari.
- Touching the gorillas: This is one of the most important Gorilla Trekking Rules & Regulations. Please restrain from the desire to touch and rub the gorillas, this will agitate them and cause them to charge at you; also you may get diseases from the gorilla.
- Bathroom: At any one point if you need to use the bathroom and cannot hold it till you get out of the forest, inform you ranger and he/she will have to find you a spot in the forest, dig a hole 30 cms deep, where you will ease yourself. After you will have to cover that hole up with soil to allow decomposing to occur naturally.
These gorilla trekking rules & regulations are key to having a smooth trekking experience but above all for preserving the gorillas, so always plan to follow them and if you are not sure of anything; ask your ranger.
With those Gorilla Trekking Rules & Regulations, We wish you the very best on your trekking experience.