At the start of every gorilla tracking day, all travelers attend a simple briefing about the rules, regulations and guidelines while with the gorillas in the mist. These rules are not a restriction to enjoy a gorilla safari but rather put to ensure the safety of gorillas and travelers in the jungle.These trekking guidelines were put by responsible government bodies in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo to protect the endangered mountain gorillas and travelers from communicable diseases hence ensuring sustainable gorilla tourism. Travelers are introduced to the dos and don’ts from park rangers, which increase travelers understanding hence ensuring good health of the critically endangered gorillas in their natural habitats. Gorilla tourism has become a leading tourism activity in east and central Africa drawing thousands of travelers from all parts of the world, which has put the life of the critically endangered gorillas at risk. The gorilla trekking rules and guidelines apply in both gorilla destinations and they include among others:
Maximum of 8 people per gorilla family
It’s a must that every gorilla troop must be visited by a maximum of eight people or less. While in the briefing travelers are divided into groups of eight and then allocated to one gorilla family to trek. This means that there are only eight permits available per day per group. In times of low visits, a gorilla group can be visited by less than 8 people, which make it more interesting. The limited number of travelers is to avoid congestions, which can be harmful harm to the endangered gorillas.
Keep a distance of seven meters
All travelers going for a Rwanda gorilla tracking must keep a distance of seven meters away from the gorillas.This is to avoid closer interaction with the critically endangered gorillas. The responsible government bodies have put a condition that all travelers must a keep a distance of seven meters away from the gorillas. The distance is to avoid the spread of human wildlife air born diseases such as flu and cough among others, which can be harmful to the gorillas. Also, the distance is top save travelers from catching wildlife diseases hence ensuring good health for all the gorillas and the travelers.
Stay in your groups and keep calm
Travelers are reminded to keep in their groups and avoid moving separately in the jungle. Splitting from a group may lead one to get lost in the forest or even meet other wild animals, which can be harmful to him/her. Similarly, trekkers are required to speak at a low tone, gorillas are very sensible and calm creatures but which behaves wild if disrupted by loud noise. In case the gorillas charge, travelers are reminded to imitate by crouching down, not run away and avoid looking direct into the eyes of the gorillas.
Do not litter nor feed gorillas
Packing it in and out is a must do for all travelers taking pat in gorilla trekking. Whereas gorilla trekkers are reminded to carry packed lunch, drinking waters and energy giving snacks, they must not leave anything behind at the end of the trek. These may include empty bottles, leftovers and polythene bags. Similarly, travelers must also not feed the gorillas in anyway.
Do not trek when sick
Sharing 98.9% of human genes, mountain gorillas are the closest relatives to human beings, which make them susceptible to human diseases. The commonly spread diseases are airborne such as flue, cough, and other related sicknesses which can easily be spread from people to the endangered mountain gorillas. All trekkers must therefore be in good health and free from any sickness to ensure the safety of gorillas. Me still, travelers are reminded to turn back their faces in case of sneezing or cough to avoid the spread of airborne diseases.
Restricted to an hour
The interaction with gorillas last for an hour despite the several hours, which may be spent in the hiking process before meeting the gorillas. On meeting the gorillas, travelers must spend an hour as they observe carefully their human like characters as well as taking photographs. After an hour with gorillas, travelers are required to hire back marking the end of the gorilla tour.
15 years and above
Trekking age is restricted to 15 years and above regardless of the mature looks. Therefore all gorilla trekkers must be 15 years and above and there must be documents such as the birth certificates and passport details for clarification.
Conclusively therefore take part in gorilla trekking, follow the rules and regulations and you will have a memorable gorilla safari experience.