Guidelines while tracking Gorillas

Guidelines while tracking Gorillas have been carefully developed to try to protect the mountain gorillas’ health and safety. As mentioned Gorillas are extremely susceptible to human diseases and infections and become stressed if too many visitors arrive or approach too closely. Remember that they are wild individuals, and very protective of their young. To remain healthy and survive these apes need to be undisturbed by visitors and allowed to eat, rest and socialize with their own species.

RULE 1: If a tourist is ill, the park Staff has the right to refuse a visit to gorillas.

REASON: To protect the great Apes from contracting an illness or disease.

RULE 2: Only one visit is allowed per day and the number of tourists is limited to eight per group.

REASON: To minimize behavioral disturbance, stress and possible risk of infection.

RULE 3: Visitors must be at least fifteen years old.

REASON: To minimize risk of exposing Gorillas to childhood diseases (e.g. Mumps, Chickenpox Measles) and cold or Flu viruses.

RULE 4: The time spent with great Apes is limited to one hour.

REASON: To minimize behavioural disturbance, stress and possible risk of infection.

RULE 5: Flash photographic is not permitted.

REASON: It can upset or frighten Gorillas and may provoke an aggressive reaction or charge.

RULE 6: All visitors must remain at least seven meters away from Gorillas at times. If the great apes approach to two or three meters (as curious juveniles sometimes do), then visitors should slowly retreat back to five meters. If this is not possible, then the visitors will be asked to remain where they are. The guide’s instructions should be followed at all times. Keep your backpack and other items in places where young Gorillas can’t approach and investigate them.

REASON: To minimize disease transmission, stress and behavioural disturbance, to reduce the chance of possible future aggression towards tourists; and to prevent the Gorillas becoming too habituated to humans.

RULE 7: Tourists should remain in a tight group, without spreading out or surrounding the great apes.

REASON: This allows the apes plenty of room to move where they want to, without felling threatened (which may provoke a charge).

RULE 8: Where possible, visitors should sit or crouch whilst watching the Gorillas.

REASON: It can be very intimidating or threatening to Gorillas if you stand taller than they are, and stare. Standing biped ally is part of the great apes’ threat or aggressive displays.

RULE 9: Body language is important, and visitors should not raise hands or arms, or point, nor stare at them.

REASON: To gorillas there behaviours are signs of threat or aggression.

RULE 10: Visitors should not clear vegetation close to Gorillas so that they get a better view.

REASON: This can disturb or frighten the Gorillas. The guides will clear away vegetation, if it is possible and necessary

RULE 11: If a silverback gorilla beat his chest, displays or charges at you, do not run away. Tourist guides are asked to stop tourists from moving or running.

REASON: Although a charge may be frightening, the safest thing to do is remain quietly where you are.

RULE 12: eating, drinking and smoking are not permitted near the Gorillas, or within 200 meters of them.

REASON: The behaviours could distract them and cause problems if they approach out of curiosity. Food and other remains can be a source of infection.

RULE 13: should be as quiet as possible, and whisper. If bitten by Safari ants or struck by stinging nettle, do not scream.

REASON: To minimize behavioural disturbance and avoid frightening and avoid frightening gorillas. Newly habituated gorillas may be afraid to come anywhere near noisy tourists, and if gorillas are already present, they may leave.

RULE 14: If you, the tourist, need to sneeze or cough, turn away from the great apes and try to cover your nose and mouth.

REASON: To minimize the spread of airborne bacteria or viruses that you might unknowingly be carrying.

RULE 15: All faucal materials must be buried. A machete may be borrowed from guides, a thirty centimetre (ten inch) hole dug and then the hole filled.

REASON: Fasces can be highly infectious to great apes and other animals.

RULE 16: All rubbish must be removed from the park, and visitors are asked to be particularly careful not to drop small items, such as, film boxes / canisters, tissues or handkerchiefs.

REASON: Apart from being unsightly, rubbish can interest animals, can cause problems if swallowed, and can be a source of germ or disease transmission.

What to wear and take on your gorilla trek

Whichever family group you visit, you may have to walk a long distance in steep, muddy conditions, possibly with rain overhead, before you encounter any gorillas. Put on your sturdiest shoes. Ideally, wear thick trousers ad long-sleeved top as to protect against vicious stinging nettles. It’s often cold when you set out, so start out with a sweatshirt or jerseys [which also help protect against nettles]. The gorillas are thoroughly used to people, so it makes little difference whether you wear bright or muted colours. Whatever clothes you wear to go tracking are likely to get very dirty you slip and slither in the mud, so if you have pre- muddied clothes you might as well wear them. When you are grabbing for handholds in thorny vegetation, a pair of old gardening gloves are helpful.  Carry as little as possible, ideally in a waterproof daypack of some sort. During the rainy season, a poncho or raincoat might be a worthy addition to you daypack, while sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are a good idea at any time of year. You may well feel like a snack during a long hike, and should certainly carry enough drinking water – at least two litres. Bottled water is sold in locally at the accommodation facilities. Especially during the rainy season, make sure your camera gear is well protected – is your bag isn’t waterproof, seal your camera and films in a plastic bag.

Binoculars are not necessary to see the gorillas. In the theory, bird watchers might like to carry binoculars, though in practice only the most dedicated are likely to make use of them – the trek up to the gorillas is normally much directed, and walking up the steep slopes and the thick vegetation tends to occupy one’s eye and mind.

Regulation and protocol 

Tourists are permitted to spend no longer than an hour with the gorilla, and it is forbidden to eat or smoke in their presence. It is also forbidden to approach within less than 5m of the gorillas, a rule that is difficult to enforce with curious youngsters [and some adults] who often approach human visitors

Gorillas are susceptible to many human diseases, and it has long been feared by researchers that one ill tourist might infect a gorilla; resulting in the possible death of the whole troop should they have no immunity to that disease. For this reason, you should not go gorilla tracking with a potentially airborne infection such as flu or a cold, and are asked to turn away from the gorillas should you need to sneeze in the presence.

To the best of our knowledge, no tourist has ever been seriously hurt by habituated gorillas. An adult gorilla is much stronger than a person, and will act in accordance with its own social codes. Therefore it is vital that you listen to your guide at all times regarding correct protocol in the presence of gorillas.

Why book with Eco Adventure Safaris your Gorilla Trip

Eco Adventure Safaris Ltd will help you book your gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo contact us and we advise you on the booking process. We as well have different gorilla trekking safari packages ranging from budget, mid-range to luxury options that we can book for you including the gorilla permits. Feel free to checkout our trip advisor reviews and read from a community of happy satisfied clients. With us, you can be rest assured of a memorable Uganda Gorilla safari holiday. We are devoted to providing excellent service and customer satisfaction. Our team of excellent tour consultants is always willing to help answer all your safari questions. We guarantee you a great gorilla tour in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo with us.