Gorilla Trekking Hope Tours Africa

10 Gorilla Trekking Rules You Need To Know

There is more to this extraordinary encounter with mountain gorillas in the natural habitat than getting just close to them, it is the wildlife safari experience of a lifetime. 

While on this magical experience, it is important to know that mountain gorillas are highly endangered species and even responsible gorilla trekking safaris can pose a threat to them. The mountain gorillas share almost 97% of our DNA making them to get easily affected by human diseases like flu and cold, normally humans carry bacteria and diseases which can be fatal to the gorillas is why the sick travelers are not allowed to take part in gorilla trekking. 

Also, gorillas can be stressed if there are so many visitors or if the visitors behave inappropriately.  

This is why the gorilla trekking rules were established by Uganda, Rwanda and DR.Congo conservationists.

Note: just because you paid a lot of money for your gorilla trekking permit to see these beautiful gentle giants of the forest, it doesn’t mean you have a right to do whatever you feel like. 

Here are 10 Essential Gorilla Trekking Rules You Need to Know

If you are feeling sick or show any sign of illness on your gorilla trekking day, kindly inform your guide or the park staff, they might decide to prevent you from trekking the gorillas on that day. Exposing gorillas to diseases may be catastrophic to the entire gorilla population which is highly endangered. 

Also, if you are near the gorillas and need to sneeze or cough. Please look away and cover your face with a cloth.

Each of the habituated 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 them is only limited to a maximum of one hour. If the gorillas become agitated, however, your guide may end the visit early.

The minimum age of tourists who want to do mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda (Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Rwanda’s 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.

 Flash photography is not permitted when taking photos of mountain gorillas, the camera flash may frighten them or provoke an aggressive reaction from the gentle giants.  

While in the presence of mountain gorillas, you must remain at least 7 meters (21 feet) from the mountain gorillas, gorillas especially the young ones may approach you and in this case. You should retreat slowly to gain the recommended distance if possible, never attempt to touch a gorilla.

They are completely wild animals.

Always stay 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.  

While in the presence of the gorillas, remain seated or crouching and keep your arms at your side when spending time with gorillas. Even when filming, shouting, standing or gesturing with your arms may be perceived as a threat by gorillas.

Silverback gorillas (adult male gorillas) are known to bet 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.  

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.  

Before you set out on a gorilla trekking adventure, please go to the bathroom. If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, you need to dig a deep hole to bury your feces about 30 cm 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.  

Keep all your rubbish or garbage in your backpack, you will deposit it back at your lodge after the gorilla trekking tour.  

Another essential thing to know about gorilla trekking is your packing list.

Here is the list of items to pack for a successful gorilla trekking tour?

  • Bring neutral colored clothing which are lightweight and can dry quickly, high humidity in the gorilla parks coupled with uphill trekking, you can become sweaty easily on your 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 not not 
  • Carry good hiking shoes or closed hiking shoes, make sure you have fitted these shoes before the trek and they should be non-slip and have 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.  
  • Carry a waterproof backpack as you will want to keep your valuables like camera and binoculars dry 
  • Pack garden gloves because in dense parts of the rainforest, you will 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 polarized 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 after the trek 
  • Take at least 2 liters of water and some energy giving snacks to keep you going throughout your gorilla trek.  

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10 Gorilla Trekking Rules You Need To Know

There is more to this extraordinary encounter with mountain gorillas in the natural habitat than getting just close to them, it is the wildlife safari experience of a lifetime.  While on this magical experience, it is important to know that

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