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Gorilla Trekking Rules in Uganda and Rwanda

For those organizing to go for gorilla trekking tour in Uganda or Rwanda, the following information would apply (as set out in the printed leaflet by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) OR Rwanda Development Board (RDB) ‘Gorilla Rules’)

Before going for Gorilla Trekking:

  • A maximum number of 8 tourists are allowed to visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas, the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases and the disturbance of their natural environment.
  • Always wash your hands before you go for gorilla trekking in the jungle

On the way to the gorillas:

  • Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great birdlife and other wildlife and primates like monkeys in the forest.
  • You should not leave rubbish in the forest. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
  • 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 mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.

When you are with the gorillas:

  • A 5-meter distance should try to be observed at all times from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
  • You must stay in a tight group when you are near the gorillas.
  • Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
  • Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could raise the risk of transmission of diseases.
  • Sometimes 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 attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
  • Flash photography is not allowed! When taking photos to move slowly and carefully.
  • Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
  • 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 visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.

Health Rules

Have it in main that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following rules 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. Another 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 7 meters away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
  • If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his pang. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are finished.

What to bring on a Gorilla Trekking Safari

  • Wear comfortable hiking jungle boot suitable for steep muddy slopes.
  • Put on earplugs for those who feel uncomfortable with the jungle sounds.
  • Carry a packed lunch and enough drinking water.
  • Carry rain gear, suns glasses, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent
  • Bring a camera. Using flashlight is not allowed so we recommend using films of 400-800 ASA.

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