Mountain Gorilla Tracking (Trekking) Guidelines Advice and Tips
Practical Mountain Gorilla Tracking Guidelines, Advice and Tips for your Memorable 1-hour Encounter
Secure your Gorilla Permit early enough
Mountain Gorilla Trekking starts with obtaining a Gorilla Tracking Permit. Given the high demand for gorilla permits, you are advised to secure your gorilla trekking permit at least 6 months before you set off for your actual trek most especially if you are looking to taking a gorilla safari during the peak months of June - September. In Uganda, gorilla permits cost US$700 per person for foreign non-residents . For details on how to book your gorilla permit, please check out our guide here »
For most travelers, trekking the Mountain Gorillas ranks among one of the absolute highlights of a trip to Uganda, and the spine-tingling feeling that you get being so near to one of our closest relatives is hard to describe.
Mountain Gorillas are one of the world’s most Critically Endangered apes and it is estimated that there are only 1063 (May-Nov 2018) left throughout the world. Nearly half of these can be found in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park as well as populations in the Virunga massif that span across Uganda's Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park and the Virunga National Park in the DR Congo.
According to The Ugandan Wildlife Authority, there is a 95% chance that you will come across the Gorillas on your trek. Your journey will be an exhilarating one: cutting your way through dense jungle, thick bamboo, past local homesteads and up forested hills… Tracking span varries and can be anything from a little as 2 to 7 hours! Your efforts will be rewarded with your first sighting of the Gorillas, as these gentle giants shyly approach you and you come face-to-face with one of nature’s greatest animals.
Besides securing the gorilla permit, prior Gorilla tracking arrangements start right from home. Preparing the right trekking gear, wearing the proper footwear and clothing on the day of your safari and enjoying your time with a Gorilla Family are important. When packing for gorilla trekking, consider essential items first.
Your Mountain Gorilla Trekking Gear
Gorilla Tracking Safari Clothing: - mountain gorillas live considerably higher up, cooler in the mornings and often there is a mist. When considering what to wear during gorilla trek, it is better if you have environmentally friendly clothes. Lets take a quick look at your Mountain gorilla trekking gear;
- Light Rain Jacket
- Daypack for lunch and for water - and anything else
- Extra Batteries for picture taking
- Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support that can go through some muddy trails. Make sure your shoes are well worn-in before departing to avoid any nasty blisters.
- Light, breathable long Trousers
- Thick socks that can allow you to tuck trousers in
- Light, breathable Long Sleeved Shirt
- Gardening Gloves to protect your hands as you grip the vegetation during your trek.
- A good attitude - plus Don't compare yourself with others.
- You can bring a walking stick if you have one home, here it comes in handy, or you can use a local one.
Nearly the same would apply for Chimpanzee Tracking - Read more about this by visiting the packing list page»
Before Setting out for your Gorilla Trek
Pay keen attention during briefing: -
Before embarking on actual trek, you will be briefed on the set rules and regulations that you have to observe while on gorilla trek. They include among others
Be in reasonable shape and have the level of fitness for the group you will be tracking, depending on the terrain you will be covering. Although the trekking group will only go as fast as the slowest member, the rangers want to get the group up in a timely manner, before the gorillas move again. There are some places Bwindi that you can do a trek that aren't very strenuous plan your trip with an operator like us to help find the right trek that matches your fattiness .
Have no communicable diseases or cold or flu, TB, diarrhea and any other infectious diseases. If you need to cough, sneeze, blow your nose, move your head away from the gorilla in order to keep the risk of infection to a minimum. Having any contagious disease means canceling the trek to protect of the gorillas who can catch such things from humans.
Be at least 15 years of age - for both Uganda and Rwanda.
Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.
Wear appropriate clothing since it is often cool there, a jacket might be helpful, a light backpack where you can put your packed lunch, proper boots to support your ankles.
During the Gorilla Trek
Always wash your hands before you head out to the Gorillas.
You are requested to always keep your voices at a low volume as you go out to track the mountain gorillas, and even lower when you meet the gorillas. This will ensure that
you will be able to observe the beautiful birds and other wildlife in the forest. This helps not disturb their peace but also to allow you the opportunity to enjoy other and the ret of the forest.
Follow your ranger through the gorilla tracking trails and stick to the group for both your safety, but also so that you can listen to him explain the attractions seen along the way to the mountain 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.
Do not Litter! Pack it in and pack it out. Do not leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back with you since it would spoil it for the next visitors.
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.
Speak to your guide if you want to use the toilet and they will advise you accordingly.
When you approach the point where the rangers observed the mountain gorillas the day before, the guides will give you the final briefing - at this point you will be advised to, leave your walking sticks and baggage here then get your cameras ready.
Your time with the Mountain Gorillas
Keep a minimum distance of 5-7 meters (15-21 feet) from the Gorillas. (This reduces the risk transmitting diseases between humans and Gorillas. Even though the gorillas you are visiting are habituated and accustomed to human for several years, they are still wild animals - you are still not like any other forest object to them Keep a minimum distance of 5-7 meters (15-21 feet) from the Gorillas. (This reduces the risk transmitting diseases between humans and Gorillas. Even though the gorillas you are visiting are habituated and accustomed to human for several years, they are still wild animals - you are still not like any other forest object to them – you are still a threat. The silverback may lead the family away or even charge at you in the form of retaliation. There are instances where Gorillas have initiated interaction with humans. Some of them were recorded and are found on YouTube just like one here. Such are extra ordinary experiences should not be expected on any trek.
You are again requested to keep your voices at a low volume all time but it is okay to ask the guide questions.
Do not eat, drink, or even smoke in the presence of Mountain Gorillas.
Sometimes the Mountain Gorillas charge. Follow the guide’s example by crouching down slowly, and do not look at 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 allowed, when taking pictures, move slowly and carefully. Do not make lots of movements when taking pictures-keep it calm.
Do not touch the Mountain Gorillas, remember they are wild animals.
The maximum time visitors are allowed to spend with the Gorillas is 60 minutes; however, if the Gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will end the visit early. You will watch gorillas foraging, playing, and going about their usual business of the day, after which you will be required to leave the family.
After the visit, you are still required to keep your voices at a low volume until you are at least 200 meters away from the Gorillas.
Since Mountain Gorillas are closely related to us they are susceptible to diseases carried by humans.
If you are ill on the day of Gorilla tracking or Gorilla Habituation Experience, let it be known and remove yourself from the team – you will need to cancel.
If you need to cough, sneeze, blow your nose, move your head away from the gorilla in order to keep the risk of infection to a minimum. .
No smoking, eating of food or drinking of beverages is allowed in the presence of the Mountain Gorillas.
Protective Face Mask - Although this is currently not listed under the current UWA guidelines for visiting Mountain gorillas, that, however, might soon change. Since Gorilla Conservation is at the forefront, after the 2020 Covid-19 Crisis - wearing a Protective Face Mask might be mandatory when trekking mountain gorillas. We recommend you to purchase at least one mask for each gorilla Trek, also for Chimpanzee trek to be worn during the actual primate encounter.
With the above tips, we wish you a memorable visit seeing gorillas in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, a country with lots of captivating experiences. It is important to put these tips in mind during the time of planning your next trip so you can enjoy a truly African Experience not to be found anywhere else in the world! To spice your Lifetime Experience Safari, there are lot of other interesting attractions to include in your itinerary including traditional game viewing safaris in savanna national parks, chimpanzee tracking, mountaineering, bird watching, sport fishing and simply viewing the rich scenic beauty of Uganda.
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