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Gorilla trekking and tracking in Uganda, Rwanda

The Gorilla trekking guidelines are essential for anyone planning on tracking mountain Gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda or the D.R -Congo. These rules cut across the 3 countries where you can do the activity. Most of these are adopted from a post by the Uganda Wildlife Authority “Gorilla Rules” plus some more information.

This is the most neglected tip – Wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.

Trekking The Gorillas

  • A maximum number of 6 visitors (8 in DR Congo and if trekking one of the larger groups in Rwanda) 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.
  • Keep your voices low. You will then also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
  • Don’t leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you. Carry a backpack to help you carry your garbage.
  • You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way!
  • When you approach the Gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.

When you are infront of the Gorillas

gorilla tracking in uganda, Rwanda and DR-congo
  • A 5 meter distance should try to be observed at all times (15 feet) from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
  • You must stay in tight group when you are near the gorillas.
  • Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is OK to ask the guide questions.
  • Do not eat or drink while you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases
  • At times the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not try and take pictures and do not attempt to run away. Running away will increase the risk.
  • Flash photography is not permitted – When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
  • Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals. They might look cuddly but!!.
  • The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
  • After the visits keep your voices down until you are 200 meters from the gorillas.

General Health Guidelines

Remember gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases.

The following are ways to minimize the risk your visit might pose to them:

  • Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
  • If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
  • 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 or viruses.
  • Always stay 5 metres (15 feet) away from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
  • Do not attempt to touch the gorillas.
  • Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are with the gorillas.
  • Do not leave any rubbish (eg. food wrappers) in the Park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
  • If you need to defecate, whilst in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30cms deep and fill it in when you are finished