Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

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Ecofriendly Gorilla Trek

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The Gorilla Trekking rules in Uganda and Rwanda, Democratic republic of Congo are the same for Mountain Gorilla Trekking Safaris in order to conserve the few remaining Mountain Gorillas & Lowland Gorillas in the Wild.

To be able to track gorillas, you must follow all the rules that are instructed by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA)/ Rwanda Development Board or Visit Virunga ;

On the way to the gorillas:

  1. A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human borne diseases.
  2. Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.
  3. Do not leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back with you.
  4. On your visit, you will be taken to where the guides left the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorillas’ trail to find them. Look out for the gorillas nesting sites along the way.
  5. When you approach the gorillas, the guides will inform you when to get your cameras ready.
  6. Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.

When you are with the gorillas

  1. Keep a minimum of 7 metres from the gorillas. This is to protect gorillas from human diseases transmission.
  2. You must stay in a tight group when you are near the gorillas.
  3. Keep your voices low at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
  4. Do not eat or drink while you are near the gorillas to reduce the risk of disease transmission.
  5. Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas in the eyes, wait for the animals to pass. Do not attempt to run away. Running away will increase the risk of attack.
  6. Flash photography is not permitted when taking pictures, move slowly and carefully.
  7. Do not touch the gorillas, they are wild animals.
  8. The maximum time visitors are allowed to spend with the gorillas is one hour to limit their disturbance. If the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will end the visit early.
  9. After the visit, keep your voices down until you are 200 metres away from the gorillas.

General health rules

Remember gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following are ways to minimize the risk your visit might pose to them:

Respect the limit imposed on the time that visitors are allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the gorilla.

If you are feeling ill, or have a contagious disease when you are already at the park, please volunteer to stay behind. An alternative visit will be arranged for you, or your money will be refunded as per gorilla reservation guidelines.

If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria of viruses.

Always stay 7 metres away from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.

Do not leave ant rubbish e.g. food wrappers in the park. Such items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.

If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole and ensure that you cover it when you have finished.

Any breach of these rules may lead to termination of tracking without any refund.

Some of the gorilla facts

The total population of mountain gorilla worldwide is estimated at 720, half of which are found in Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable forest, which also happens to be UNESCO declared world heritage site. The rest of the world’s mountain gorilla populations is found in the Virunga volcanoes, shared by Uganda, Rwanda and DRC Congo, Uganda’s Mgahinga gorilla national park protects the northern part of these famous volcano slopes.

Gorilla conservation

To promote mountain gorilla conservation, gorilla tourism started in Bwindi impenetrable national forest in 1993 with two gorilla groups being habituated. Habituation is the process of making gorilla groups accustomed to human presence, thereby facilitating close interaction without the danger of displaying aggressive behavior of even attacking in self-protection. This step is key to preparing gorilla groups for tourism and it takes about three years to habituate a gorilla group. The importance of this process is best appreciated in the light of the fact, due to their protected status, there are no mountain gorillas to be found in captivity and can only be viewed in their natural habitat.

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