Mountain Gorilla Trekking Rules
- Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and Rwanda Development Board (RDB) have clear rules and regulations to protect both gorillas and the humans that trek them.
- The ranger guides will do their utmost to find the gorillas for you. These conservation rangers are in frequent radio contact, constantly monitoring the health, safety and whereabouts of the mountain gorilla populations.
- Although no tourist has ever been seriously hurt by a habituated gorilla, you should always remember that an adult gorilla is several times stronger than a human, and can be disturbed by human activity, particularly if the gorillas are nursing infants or sick – or simply not in the mood to be disturbed!
- The maximum group size for checking the gorillas is 8 to 10 people per group
- Gorilla trekkers must be fit and in good health. Trekking in thick forest at heights over 2,000 metres, traversing steep mountains and ravines can be tough and frequently wet.Gorillas are susceptible to many human diseases, diarrhoea, colds and the flu. You should not go gorilla trekking if you have any of these.
- Your cough can be lethal to a gorilla. To reduce the chance of transmitting bacteria or viruses, cover your nose and mouth if you feel you need to cough or sneeze.
- Gorillas can catch diseases from discarded human rubbish. Don’t litter or spit while in the gorillas’ habitat.
- Do not touch the gorillas, even if they come close. They can be very curious.
- Do not make any sudden movements.
- If a gorilla charges, do not run away. Stay calm. Slowly crouch down and avoid direct eye contact, until the gorilla moves away in its own time.
- Leave a distance of seven metres between you and the gorillas – although the gorillas do not always stick to this rule! If the gorillas start moving towards you, the rangers may advise you to move backwards away from them.
- Do not surround the gorillas. View them from a distance and in groups.
- One hour is allowed with the gorillas.
- Personal DVD recorders are allowed. Professional filmmakers need to purchase filming permits in advance from UWA or RDB.
- If you need to go to the toilet while you are in the forest, tell your guide, and he will dig a hole for you. Make sure you cover the hole afterwards to prevent possible transfer of disease to the gorilla population.
- You will be given a list of the Gorilla Trekking Rules with your trekking permit and reminded of them again on the morning of your gorilla trek.
- Flash photography is not allowed. It can be difficult to capture good photos of the gorillas under the dark canopy of the rainforest. If you have a film camera, fast film (400-1600 ASA) is useful.
For gorilla trekking stories and Uganda and Rwanda travel advice, click on the hyperlinks in the Ultimate Guide to Mountain Gorilla Trekking. Still got a question? Contact the Muzungu.