Gorilla Trekking Rules & Regulations
Gorilla trekking rules and regulations are the guidelines put in place by particular wildlife governing authorities to enable proper protection of the endangered mountain gorillas from harm. In Uganda, mountain gorillas rules and regulations are set by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), in Rwanda, we have Rwanda Development Board (RDB) while in DRC, there is Institute Congolese pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN). Both the above bodies work tirelessly alongside other organizations to protect and preserve the endangered mountain gorillas which are remaining in only three destinations of Uganda that harbors more than 50% of them, Rwanda and DRC so as to increase their populations in the wild. Thus travelers on a gorilla trekking safari and tour in Africa within any of the three countries needs to read through the gorilla trekking rules and regulations in order for safety purposes of both the trekkers and the gorillas. Gorilla trekking rules and regulations are categorized into three different ways including the general gorilla trekking rules and regulations, gorilla trekking rules and regulations while in the park and gorilla trekking rules and regulations while in presence of gorillas. All these are explained in this article.
General gorilla trekking rules and regulations include;
- The number of people: The maximum number of people allowed to trek a particular mountain gorilla family is 8 persons per day.
- Minimum age limit: The minimum age limit for gorilla trekking is 15 years and below that, one is considered to be a minor and not allowed to take part in Gorilla trekking safari in any destination in Africa be it Uganda, Rwanda or DRC.
- Sanitation: Keep yourself clean and even try to clean your hands before embarking on the journey to trek mountain gorillas in the wild
- Health: Sick people are not allowed to participate in gorilla trekking for fear of infecting the endangered primates which share almost 95% of their DNA with the human. Also try to have some level of fitness.
Gorilla trekking Rules and regulations while in the park
As soon as you get into the park where mountain gorillas reside for a gorilla trekking safari, there are particular rules and regulations to follow which include;
- Ensure to be at the park headquarters in time for briefing and allocation of a particular habituated mountain gorillas before embarking on the hike to trek gorillas in the jungle.
- Follow and listen to the guidelines given by your tour guide while in the park searching for gorillas.
- Ensure that you move in a group and never be left behind as your safety matters.
- Lowering the voice in order to see lots of things in the park. Theory has it that the more you keep quiet in the park, the more you sight out since the noise scares away the wildlife and probably you will sight few as compared to the group which tries to lower their voices. However, do not fear to ask anything you ought to know about the gorillas since asking gives a wide range of answers and probably a fun filled moment as you get to learn lots of things about the mountain gorillas in Africa.
- Try by all means not to liter the park. This is best achieved by ensuring that all the rubbish that needs to be thrown away is returned to the lodge and properly disposed of in the waste bins.
Gorilla trekking rules and regulations while in the presence of Gorillas
Well as you get closer to gorillas, you need to follow the following rules and regulations which include;
- Maintaining a gap of 7m between you and the gorillas. This s done to prevent trekkers from affecting the gorillas with communicable diseases such as cough and flue.
- A period of one hour is allowed in the presence of mountain Gorillas. In this one hour, trekkers are supposed to observe the gorillas as they perform their daily activities of breastfeeding, copulating, feeding and even nesting, you may ask any possible questions and take all the required photographs as long as you do not exceed the time frame given which is one hour. Past one hour, a penalty is incurred.
- Never tempt take photographs with the flash on. Try as much as possible to keep your camera flash light off until you exit the habit of gorillas.
- You aren’t allowed to eat any food stuff, drinks or even smoke while in the presence of mountain gorillas.
- Trekkers aren’t allowed to touch the gorillas for fear of infecting them with human diseases.
- Never look straight into the eyes of the mountain gorillas.
- In case a gorilla charges, do not panic, alarm or run just feel relaxed and follow what the guide has to tell you for your safety.
- If you badly need to go to the toilet for a long call while in the park, please try to bury your waste at least 30cm deep.
- Once you badly need to sneeze or cough, mask yourself and turn your back away from the presence of gorillas.
Requirements and what you need to pack for a gorilla trekking safari
Book a gorilla trekking permit in advance which costs $1500 to trek in Volcanoes national park with in Rwanda, $600 to trek in Mgahinga and Bwindi impenetrable national park with in the southwestern part of Uganda, and $400 to trek in Virunga national park with in DRC.
Prepare yourself in advance and make your backpack ready with your best gorilla trekking attire which include; a good camera with enough battery, long sleeved pant and shirt, A good hiking pair of waterproof boats, A rain jacket, Both light and warm attire, A pair of garden gloves, A cap, Sunglasses, A sunscreen, An insect repellant.
Pack enough drinking water, have your packed lunch box and some snacks
Remember to hire a porter
Obtain a hiking stick which is offered at the park during the briefing.
The above rules and regulations were put in place in order to minimize the risks involved in gorilla trekking. Few cases have been reported but all in all travelers on a gorilla trekking safari are always encouraged to follow all the gorilla trekking guidelines, rules and regulations and also try to listen to the tour guides while on a gorilla trekking safari to awesomely enjoy the excursion and breathtaking experience of spending a full hour with the gorillas in their natural habitat.