Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations Uganda
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is one of the top highlights for African travel. Uganda gorilla safaris are very popular because of the amazing experience. and that’s why there are set gorilla trekking rules and regulations in Uganda. There are two natural habitats in Uganda where mountain gorillas are found and these are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, two of the four parks in the world with mountain gorillas.
In the world, there are about 1,063 mountain gorillas remaining living in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. These mountain gorillas live in families and the increase in number is highly dependent on conservation efforts. To keep the mountain gorilla population safe and protected, there are set rules and regulations that each visitor has to follow before and during the gorilla tracking activity in Uganda. These rules and regulations are set by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and apply to both Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Gorilla Trekking Rules in Uganda
Before you set out
- Always wash your hands before you head to the gorillas. This helps to ensure that you don’t have germs or viruses on your hands that can be spread to the gorillas.
- Do not visit the gorillas if you have a cold or other infectious illness.
- The minimum age for tracking gorillas is 15 years.
- Human waste should be buried 30cm (12”) deep.
- The maximum number of visitors is eight persons per gorilla group
When you are with the gorillas
- Always keep your voice low at all times, please. Do not make any loud noises in the forest from the start of the trek to the end.
- DO NOT leave any rubbish in the park. Take out with you whatever you bring in, it may disrupt the ecosystem.
- Maintain a 7 meters (21ft) distance from the gorillas at all times.
- Smoking, eating, and drinking are not permitted on the tour.
- If you must sneeze or cough cover your face and turn away from the gorillas, as they can catch coughs and colds from humans.
- Do not use flash photography while taking photos of the gorillas.
- Visits are limited to 1 hour per gorilla group per day.
Relevant Tips to know before booking a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda
Please take note of the information below when planning a gorilla trekking safari to Uganda;
- For one to take on the gorilla trekking experience, a gorilla permit is required. A gorilla permit is a document issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority as approval that the tourist qualifies to go trekking in Uganda and has paid the required fee. Purchase a gorilla trekking permit at least 6 months prior to the trip and ensure that you have the permit before even setting off for the trip.
- Only 8 persons are allowed to trek a single gorilla family each day. This is done to minimize behavioral disturbances and the risk of exposure to human-borne diseases. A gorilla family is allocated to you on the morning of the trek and each individual is given an opportunity to choose a family to trek if they wish to.
- Persons with a cold or flu and any contagious diseases that might be found infectious to mountain gorillas are not allowed to go trekking. This is because mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human disease and a whole population can be wiped out by a common cold. For this period during the novel outbreak of coronavirus, any person who is positive or has symptoms of COVID-19 may not be allowed to trek gorillas in Uganda.
- Mountain gorilla trekking starts early morning with a briefing and therefore tourists must have spent their previous night at an accommodation facility close to the park. For Bwindi, gorilla trekking permits are allocated according to the different sectors. Ensure that the accommodation facility is in the same sector within which you are going to track. Briefing starts at 8:00 am and therefore tourists should be at the briefing point early enough to attend the briefing on the rules and regulations before starting the trek.
- Only a maximum of one hour is allocated to tourists to spend in the presence of the mountain gorillas.
- When mountain gorillas feel uneasy with the presence of people, they can easily charge which is a reaction to fight and keep away the enemy. In case the gorilla’s charge, you will be guided on what to do and this includes you crouching down slowly, looking away from the gorilla, and letting it pass.
Each tourist on a gorilla safari in Uganda should be aware and also make sure to follow the set rules and regulations for a memorable gorilla trip in any of the destinations with gorillas in Uganda. These gorilla trekking rules and regulations in Uganda are a bit similar to those of Rwanda but may differ just a little. When planning Rwanda gorilla tours, ensure to know the gorilla trekking rules and regulations of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. For wildlife tours in Uganda, Kenya safaris, or Tanzania wildlife safaris, the rules are less since game viewing is done in safari vehicles and therefore less close contact with wildlife.