Gorilla trekking rules and regulations play a significant role not only towards the safety of mountain gorillas but also visitors’ safety in the wild. Before embarking on the actual gorilla trek, the park officials or park ranger guide briefs trekkers on the set rules and regulations.
Mountain gorillas are a few most endangered species on the planet and a total of only 1063 of these rare species still thrives in the world. Tours to the mountain gorillas are only done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda and Virunga National Park in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Below are some of the set rules and regulations to follow while on the actual hike in search for the mountain gorillas in the Jungle;
While on a search for mountain gorillas, trekkers are advised to keep their voices low at all times. However, you are free to ask as many questions as you can.
Visitors with communicable diseases like TB, cough and flu won’t be allowed to trek mountain gorillas. About 98% of the mountain gorillas’ DNA is similar to that of humans making them very susceptible to human infectious diseases. You should cover your mouth while coughing.
Each day, only 8 tourists are allowed to trek 1 (one) habituated gorilla family. A group is led by an experienced park ranger guide and tracker. This experience is restricted to 8 visitors because it is one way to ensure their daily behaviour in the wild isn’t destabilized and avoid overcrowding.
Leave the gorilla habitat the way you found or even better. Trekkers are advised not to throw rubbish anyhow and carry back anything they went with on a trek to where there is a rubbish bin. This rule and regulation intend to ensure the jungle is kept clean and the health of mountain gorillas is kept appropriately.
Wash your hands prior to setting off on the actual trek. Before you set off to search for gorilla family assigned to you, you need to wash your hand. This measure is essential in preventing the spread of infectious diseases to these endangered species.
Trekkers have only one hour with mountain gorillas. The entire trek may cover 2-6 hours, however, you will have only 1 hour to strike for your imaginations, take photos, and explore their behaviours. This measure is aimed at limiting destabilizing the general behaviour of the gorillas while in their natural habitat.
You must keep a distance of seven meters from the Mountain gorillas. This is enough distance for you to observe them, take pictures and photos.
Morning Briefing about gorilla trekking experience
No smoking, and eating while on a gorilla trek. This is highly prohibited in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. This rule and regulation aim at preventing the spread of infectious diseases to mountain gorillas. Note, these species shared about 98 per cent of their DNA with humans which makes them very susceptible to human infectious diseases. During the hike, the rangers give you a break where you can eat your packed lunch or snacks.
When trekking to see mountain gorillas, make sure you keep around your group you came with. This is to avoid cases of getting lost in the rainforest and limiting cases of wildlife harming in the wild.
In case the gorilla charges, please follow the guide’s instructions, stay calm and don’t run.
No flashlight camera is allowed when taking photos of mountain gorillas. Flashlight cameras tend to irritate gorillas a behaviour which may cause harm to them. To avoid such cases, you are advised to turn off your flashlight camera or come with a camera with no flashlight.
Even when mountain gorillas come close to you or rub their bodies on you, don’t be tempted to touch them. This rule is essential in minimizing the spread of human infectious diseases.
To trek mountain gorillas, you should have a valid gorilla permit. Each gorilla permit lets you trek one habituated family. This rule is intended to control the number of tourists visiting each gorilla family every day which may destabilize the behaviour of mountain gorillas.
Only persons above 15 years are eligible to purchase gorilla permits and visit the gorillas. This is because children usually carry communicable diseases and to reduce any risk of them spreading to mountain gorillas, this rule has to be observed. Also, children can scream in the jungle when scared by the gorillas, thus destabilizing the peace of the gentle giants.
Wear environmentally friendly clothes. Make sure you avoid shouting colours as they may scare off mountain gorillas.
In case of need to help yourself while in the forest, please burry your wastes as per the instructions of the guide.
The above rules and regulations must be followed during the gorilla trek in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Congo Republic. All this information and more is available for you to read at all park headquarters in Bwindi National Park, Mgahinga, Virunga, Kahuzi Biega and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Additionally, during the morning briefing about gorilla trekking adventure, the park ranger will tell you about all these and more rules and regulations, do’s and dont’s while on the gorilla trek.