Gorilla Trekking Rules – Primate Safaris in Uganda: Rwenzori Expeditions
Gorilla trekking is a unique and incredible experience that allows you to observe mountain gorillas in their natural habitat in the three countries of Africa and in the Virunga destinations. The endangered mountain gorillas are found in four national parks where most of these stretch along the Virunga areas – Mgahinga gorilla national park of Uganda, Virunga national park of DR. Congo and Volcanoes national park of Rwanda. The other park where thousands of travelers go for the experience is Bwindi Impenetrable national park of Uganda and this is known for hosting almost half of the world’s mountain gorillas.
To ensure the safety and well-being of both the gorillas and humans, there are specific rules and guidelines that visitors must follow when engaging in gorilla trekking. These rules may vary slightly depending on the country and park you are visiting, but here are some general gorilla trekking rules that are typically applicable:
Obtain a trekking permit
Before going for a gorilla trekking experience, one must first purchase a trekking permit from the responsible bodies in different countries. In Uganda, the trekking permit is at USD 700 for non-foreign residents, in Rwanda, it is at USD 1500 per non foreign resident and then USD 400 in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Keep a Safe Distance
As you are encountering the magnificent mountain gorillas, you should maintain a minimum distance of 7 meters (about 21 feet) from the apes. This is to protect both the gorillas and the visitors from potential disease transmission.
Groups of gorilla trekkers are typically limited to a maximum of 8 individuals. This helps minimize stress on the gorillas and reduces the risk of disease transmission.
No Flash Photography
Flash photography can startle or disturb the gorillas. It’s best to set your camera to a “no flash” mode or disable the flash function.
While you can talk in low voices, loud noises and sudden movements can be stressful for the gorillas. Guides will instruct you on how to behave in their presence.
No Eating or Drinking
You should not eat or drink in the presence of the gorillas. This is to prevent any food-sharing between humans and gorillas, which can be harmful.
Smoking is not allowed during the trek, as it may lead to bush burning thus losing the natural forests or the smell of smoke may agitate the gorillas.
Stay in a Tight Group
As you are taking part in gorilla trekking experience, you should stay close to your group and follow the instructions of your guide. This helps minimize your impact on the gorilla’s environment.
You should not leave any trash or litter in the park. This includes items like food wrappers, water bottles, and other non-biodegradable materials.
No Touching the Gorillas
It’s strictly forbidden to touch the gorillas. This is for their safety as well as yours, as human-borne diseases can be transmitted to them.
Limit Trekking Time
You are usually allowed to spend a maximum of one hour with the gorillas. This is to prevent overexposure and stress to the gorillas.
Follow Guide’s Instructions
Gorilla trekkers are always accompanied by experienced and knowledgeable ranger guides about gorilla behavior. Always follow their instructions and heed their advice.
Respect the Environment
As you are hiking through the park rainforest in search of the mountain gorillas, avoid damaging the natural environment like plants, trees, or any other vegetation during your trek.
No Gorilla Trekking When Sick
If you are feeling unwell or have any contagious illness like cough, fever or cough, you should not participate in gorilla trekking. This is to protect both the gorillas and other visitors.
In conclusion, remember that these rules are in place to protect the gorillas and their habitat, as well as to ensure the safety of visitors. It’s important to adhere to them strictly for the well-being of these endangered animals. Additionally, local authorities and guides will provide specific instructions, so always listen to their advice and guidance.