When planning your gorilla trip to Africa, its advisable to be also informed about the rules and guidelines for tracking gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and even Congo so that you pack and plan accordingly.
Rules were specifically put into place by the Virunga Conservation Program for the protection and conservation of the lives of the endangered mountain gorillas in the world
Categorized in to two types; where there those for the safety of the mountain gorillas and others for the safety of the tourists and therefore extra attention must be paid for the safety, survival and well being of both parties in the national parks.
Safety of Mountain Gorillas:
Each single gorilla family group only receives 8 visitors in a day as a way of minimizing pressure that may be put on the animals and also to limit their chances of contaminating them with some common human diseases like colds, flu and even cough as well as diarrhea.
When with the gorillas, expect only an hour with them as this helps on keeping them away from contracting any human health abnormalities.
It’s also important for the tourists to have their hands washed before embarking on the tracking exercise.
Avoid making noise while in the natural vicinity of the mountain gorillas as this helps to keep them in one place as well as other wildlife species with minimal disturbances to the animals.
Avoid dumping any sorts of rubbish in the park; leave the park as you find it
Once you meet the gorillas, please keep 7 meters away from the animals to avoid contaminating them with human illnesses.
You should not eat / drink while in the vicinity of the mountain gorillas
It’s important to keep up with the guide’s instructions especially in cases where the gorillas may charge at you; this is for your own safety
Avoid using flash photographs as these may scare of the animals
Also avoid looking directly in the eyes of the gorillas as this may seem like a sign of war / attack on them.
On the trekking day, if feeling sick with colds, flu and even diarrhea, please stay away from the national Park.
In case of the urge to sneeze or cough and in the presence of the mountain gorillas,; please first turn away from the animals
When nature calls and it’s really inevitable please talk to your guide, who will dig up a deep pit for your use and once finished please cover it very well to avoid any chances of contaminating the wildlife.
Avoid touching the gorillas ; as sometimes the baby gorillas tend to get closer to you ; please avoid touching them for they are wild animals and therefore unpredictable.
At the end of your encounter with the mountain gorillas, keep calm and your voices low until away about 200 meters from the gorillas to avoid any disturbances to the animals.
Safety for Tourists / Packing List
It’s very important to bring along proper tracking/ hiking gear when coming for mountain gorilla trekking as this will both ease your trekking experience and also protect you from harm’s way while on a trek in the thick dense forests such as a raincoat, water proof bag for your camera, hiking boots, long light trousers and shirts, etc.
Long Sleeved shirt / jacket; Mountain gorillas reside within tropical rain forests and it tends to be chilly in the mornings and nights, it’s therefore very important to bring along long sleeved shirts and jackets to both keep you warm and protected against any stingy branches and insects within the forests.
Short Sleeved shirts: This is also important as it’s not predictable if the rains may fall on your tracking day; therefore you can dress up in layers and once it gets too hot during the hike, you can shed off some off some of the long-sleeved shirts and jackets.
Long Light Pants; as it’s a tropical rain forest, expect to encounter vines, thorny and scratchy bushes, insects etc. as these long but light pants will protect you from all harm’s way and also ease your movement during the hike.
Long Socks and woolen gloves: The long socks are to protect you from insects getting through your pants such as the red ants; here you tuck in your trousers into the socks and all is safe. Also use woolen gloves as these are ease your grips and movements on the bushes when at the hike
Hiking boots / shoes; these like the safari shoes are to help smoothen up your hike over the steep, slippery and muddy terrain through the forests.
Rain Jacket: Since the rains can come at any time of the year and day while hiking, it’s important you carry one along just in case it rains.
Head Bands and Hair Ties; Very important especially for ladies and gents with long hair as it will keep your hair in one place avoiding it from gripping at the bushes and tree branches during the hike
Antimalarial pills; These should be taken a week to your traveling time as a way of protecting yourself from catching malaria while on the trip
Insect Repellant; This is to protect you from stingy insect bites of the tropical rain forests
Toilet Paper; It’s important to note there are no toilets in the jungle, you must bring along a toilet paper in case need arises; you are all set for this purpose.
Camera; Carry along a camera for capturing your experience but it should be one without flash light as this may scare off the animals
Pair of Binoculars; this is very important for birders as it enables you to clearly capture both wildlife and bird species even at a distance.
Documentation; A mountain gorilla trekking permit is a must have when coming for the mountain gorilla trekking expedition
Passport; this is needed at the check-in point for entrance into the park
Local Currency and small Notes; These help you in case you hired a porter or even purchased souvenirs
Drinking Water; As the hikes tend to go up the hills and for long hours you must keep hydrated through your hike
Packed Lunch and Snacks; The tracking exercise may last from 30 minutes to several hours, it’s therefore very important you carry along packed lunch and snacks like the nuts, dried fruits to keep you up while on the trek.