The gorilla trekking rules in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo don’t differ. This article lists some of the rules you should follow when going for gorilla trekking. Gorillas are endangered species of a primate that can only be found in 3 countries in the world and that is Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Virunga national park in Congo and Bwindi and Mgahinga national park in Uganda.
Gorillas share 98% DNA with humans making them close relatives with chimpanzees, there only about 900 mountain gorillas left in the wild and they move in groups of 5-30 individuals dominated by a male gorilla also known as “silverback” who dictates all the group’s activities daily.
Gorillas undergo habituation process for about 2 years maximum in order to get used to human presence and then be visited by tourists, never the less they are wild animals so there are certain rules that should be followed while trekking gorillas for the safety of this great apes and humans too.
Rules and Regulations for Gorilla Trekking
A maximum of only eight people is allowed to visit a habituated gorilla family in a day; this avoids the risk of behavioral disturbances to the gorillas.
You are not supposed to litter the park or forest; whatsoever you brought with you should be taken back with you.
While trekking mountain gorillas, your voices are supposed to be low, you’re not expected to shout or make noise during trekking.
A distance of 7 meters must be kept while observing gorillas, this makes the group more relaxed and not disrupted.
Tourists must stay close to each other while observing gorillas; you will not be allowed to be scattered all over.
Always wash your hands thoroughly when heading to trek mountain gorillas.
Do not smoke, eat or drink in the presence of mountain gorillas, this could increase their risk of diseases because of the falling droplets
In case of gorillas charge, you should endeavor to follow the guides instructions like not looking at gorillas straight in the eyes, crouch down slowly and never temper to run away.
When photographing gorillas, tourists should move slowly and carefully and flash cameras are not allowed.
Visitors are not allowed to touch gorillas. These are wild animals.
After finding and observing the gorilla group, you are supposed to keep your voices down until you are about 200 meters away from the group.
The maximum time you can spend with mountain gorillas is 1 hour but if gorillas feel disturbed the guide might tell you to end the visit early.
In case your carrying a contagious disease, you will not be allowed to visit mountain gorillas but the warden doesn’t realize please volunteer to stay behind to avoid transmitting diseases to gorillas
In case you get the urge to go to the toilet while in the forest, the guide will dig for you a hole at least 30cm deep and please fill it when you’re done
If you feel like sneezing or coughing while with mountain gorillas you need to turn your head away from their direction this also helps with the risk of disease transmission.
Children under the age of fifteen years will not be allowed to trek mountain gorillas.
Gorillas live at the slopes of mountains so you will need to come along with good hiking boots for steep muddy slopes. You will also need raincoats, warm clothing’s, socks and garden gloves because sometimes the weather is unpredictable so it can rain anytime.
Trekking gorillas will sometimes take long hours so you will need to carry packed lunch, energy snacks, and drinking water.
The best time of trekking mountain gorillas is in the drier months of June to September and December to February. During this time the roads to the parks are very accessible and the trekking trails are not muddy with any higher chances of rain.
In the wet season, it might get hard getting to the parks so you will need a four wheel drive vehicle and you must come with raincoats and warm clothing’s. The advantage of the wet season s that you can get a discount of the gorilla permits.
Gorilla permits cost $400 in Congo, $1500 in Rwanda and $600 in Uganda. The gorilla permits can be accessed through the countries governing bodies or you can acquire through a tour operator. Please note that permits must be obtained in advance if you are buying them for the peak season.