Here are some Gorilla trekking tips and insights to help you prepare for an epic gorilla-tracking African holiday in Uganda or Rwanda.
Gorilla Trekking ranks among one of the absolute highlights of a trip to Uganda. The feeling of being in the midst of these wonderful giants is indescribable and unforgettable.
Gorilla trekking is a thrilling experience where the park ranger leads you through the mountain gorillas’ home, the thick rainforest, and informs you of all the wonderful aspects that make the ecosystem where gorillas live and roam freely.
The amount of time needed for tracking gorillas can be as little as 30 minutes or as long as 7 hours. This depends on how far the given gorilla family has moved since it was last seen, the previous day. The time does fly by and however long it takes, the experience of meeting the gorillas face-to-face is unbelievable.
To make sure your gorilla adventure happens as perfectly as possible, here are some tips and insights to have in mind. Some of these you will be reminded of before you start the hike into the forest, but we believe it is better to be informed.
Gorilla Trekking Tips & Guidelines
The way to the Gorillas
Here are some things to have in mind on your way to see the gorillas.
- A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group (family) of habituated Gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbances to the Gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
- Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.
- Do not leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back with you.
- You will be taken to where the guides left the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the Gorillas’ trail to find them. Look out for the gorillas’ nesting sites along the way.
- When you approach the Gorillas, the guides will inform you when to get your cameras ready.
- Please always keep your voices low. This will ensure that you will be able to observe the beautiful birds and other wildlife in the forest.
When You Are With the Gorillas
Here are some things to have in mind while you are with the gorillas.
- Keep a minimum distance of 7 meters (21 feet) from the Gorillas. (This reduces the risk of transmitting diseases between humans and Gorillas.
- Keep your voices low at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
- Do not eat or drink while you are near the Gorillas.
- Sometimes the Gorillas charge. Follow the guide’s example by crouching down slowly, and do not look the Gorillas in the eyes. Wait for the gorilla to pass you by and do not attempt to run away (this will increase the risk of attack).
- Flash photography is not permitted, when taking pictures, move slowly and carefully.
- Do not touch the Gorillas. They are wild animals.
- The maximum time visitors are allowed to spend with the Gorillas is one hour; however, if the Gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will end the visit early.
- After the visit, keep your voices low until you are at least 200 meters away from the Gorillas.
General Health Rules
Gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following guidelines are to ensure that you minimize the risk your visit might pose to them.
- Respect the limit imposed on the time that visitors are allowed with the Gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
- If you are feeling ill, or have a contagious disease when you are already at the park, please volunteer to stay behind. An alternative visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded (as per the gorilla reservation guidelines).
- 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 germs.
- Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the Gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
- Do not leave any rubbish e.g. food wrappers in the park. Such items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
- If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole. Fill it out when you have finished.
What to Bring for Gorilla Trekking
Given that Gorilla trekking involves a lot of walking on rough, mountainous terrain, here are some things to carry for your hike in the thick forest.
- Bring shoes with good traction, suitable for steep muddy slopes.
- Carry rain gear, sunscreen, and a hat, as the weather is unpredictable.
- Carry enough water and food.
- Carry binoculars
- Carry a good camera that can take photographs of black animals in dim light without a flash. A monopod can also be very helpful.