Gorilla Trekking Guidelines & Rules

Responsible travelers are always interested in how to behave in every place they go. Some visitors may even ask about the dress code of certain communities where they would be visiting. In the same breath, any person planning to have a gorilla safari should consider certain things to ensure that they enjoy their experience without hurting the eco system he or she is visiting.

At Big Apes we will give you the relevant information to note when you are planning your gorilla adventure be it Uganda or Rwanda.

Whereas the list of guidelines may be endless, we have chosen guidelines set by Uganda Wildlife Authority a body that is responsible for the conservation of wildlife and management of all National parks. Please take time to read them carefully and be a responsible tourist. Should you be interested in learning more about gorilla trekkers’ conduct, do not hesitate to contact us!

Before departing on your gorilla tracking:
  • A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
  • Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.
On the way to the gorillas:
  • Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
  • Do not leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should carried back out with you
  • You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorillas trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way.
  • When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will  inform you to get ready.
When you are with the gorillas:
  • A 7 meter (21feet) distance should be tried to be observed at all timesfrom the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
  • You must stay in tight groups when you are near gorillas
  • Keep your voices down at all times. However it is ok to ask the guide questions
  • Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.
  • Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animal to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
  • Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures, move slowly and carefully.
  • Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
  • The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
  • After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.

General Gorilla Health Rules:

Remember that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following rules are ways to minimize the risk your visit might pose to them:

  • Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
  • If you are feeling ill or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you or you will be refunded your money.
  • If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
  • Always stay 7meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
  • Do not leave any rubbish e.g. (food wrappers) in the park, foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
  • If you need to go to the toilet, while in the forest please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you finished.

What to bring on your Gorilla Safari:

  • Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
  • Put on earplugs for those who feel uncomfortable with the jungle sounds.
  • Carry a packed lunch and enough drinking water
  • Carry a rain gear, sunscreen and a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellant.
  • Bring a photo film Camera. Using a flashlight is not permitted. So we recommend using films of 400-800 AS
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