What are gorilla trekking rules?
What are gorilla trekking rules? Gorilla trekking rules are the guideline put in place by a certain conservation body or an authority to guarantee the safety and security of endangered mountain gorillas in their wildness or natural habitats while being trekked. All countries where gorillas are located in East Africa have got bodies responsible for setting up rules and to protect gorillas.
In Uganda, the authority responsible for setting up rules for endangered mountain gorilla protection is known as Uganda Wild Life Authority, in Rwanda, it’s Rwanda Development Board and in the democratic republic of Congo, the rules for gorilla trekking are set by Institute Congolese pour la conservation de la nature.
Both bodies work hand in hand with other conservation agencies in their respective countries to protect and preserve the only remaining mountain gorillas in the world. Thus it’s necessary to increase the numbers of endangered mountain gorillas via conservation rules.
Tourists on gorilla trekking safaris in either of these countries need to be well conversant with gorilla trekking rules so maintain their safety and the safety of the trekked gorillas. Remember that its only in Uganda where gorilla trekking is done is two parks which are Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks. In Rwanda, gorilla trekking is carried out in volcanoes national park while in Congo the activity is conducted in Virungas national park.
At every stage of gorilla trekking there rules and regulation that do apply. For example, the gorilla trekking rules can be classified in three ways that are general gorilla trekking rules, gorilla trekking rules while in the national park, and the mountain gorilla trekking rules after you have spotted the gorilla family being trekked. The details of these gorilla trekking rules still are explained below;
General gorilla trekking rules for trekkers
- There is an 8 maximum number of people that are allowed to trek a single gorilla family per day.
- Only visitors who are above 15 years of age are allowed to trek the gorillas. Visitors of below 15 years are taken as minors and do not qualify to do gorilla trekking in any gorilla destination of East Africa that is Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania.
- You need to be very clean and hygienic to trek gorillas. Your hand must be well washed before you take a gorilla trek.
- Sick people are not allowed to visit or trek gorillas because they can infect mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are our closest relatives and we share almost 95% of our DNA all. Also, you need to be very fit and vigorous since trekking needs traveling for long-distance.
Gorilla trekking rules while you’re in the park
As soon as you get into the park for mountain gorilla trekking, there are still specific rules you need as well to follow which include;
- You must be at the park headquarters in time for a briefing session before the activity of gorilla trekking commences. You will be told what to do and what you opt not to do
- Follow the guidance and instructions from the ranger guide while on your search for mountain gorillas in the park.
- You should stay in a group of 8 while trekking gorillas and you don’t need to be left behind the group or move far ahead of the ranger guide.
- Make sure that you don’t litter. All the rubbish must be kept and returned them to the headquarters or the lodge for proper disposal into the dustbin
- You should not shout a lot while trekking gorillas. Usually, when you keep quiet while on gorilla trekking safaris in the park, you’re likely to see more of the species because loud noise scares away animals or birds. You need to feel free to ask anything you would like to know.
Gorilla trekking rule upon spotting the gorillas
Once you’re in the presence of the searched gorilla family you should keep in mind of the following gorilla trekking rules;
- Bear in mind to keep a 7-meter distance between you and gorillas. This is best as it can help to protect the trekkers from infecting the endangered gorillas with diseases such as Covid-19.
- You are accorded only one hour in the presence of gorillas. In this period trekkers are supposed to observe different activities of the mountain gorillas such as their feeding habits, copulation, and breastfeeding among others. You’re supposed to ask any question you want to your guide and take photos. All you do must not exceed 1 hour period.
- You must not take flash photos as this can alter the behaviors of the gorillas.
- In the front of the gorillas, you’re not supposed to eat, drink or smoke. You should prohibit such behaviors.
- Visitors are not allowed in any way to touch in gorillas for fear of infecting them with diseases.
- It is not advisable to look straight into the eyes of gorillas
- Due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, you’re advised to put on a mast full time whenever you’re in the presence of mountain gorillas. It is important to note that visitors need to put on the mask whenever you embark on gorilla trekking activity. Both the visitor and the ranger guide must put on a mask.
- Should the gorilla charges, you don’t need to panic or run just keep calm and strictly follow what your guide is telling you.
The above-explained gorilla trekking rules were set and framed to reduce the risks involved in trekking gorillas. All visitors of gorilla trekking safari are advised to follow the above rules as you listen carefully to what the guide is telling you. Once all the above are followed then you will have a wonderful gorilla trekking experience