Planning Your Gorilla Tracking Safari
Before embarking on your gorilla tracking adventure in Uganda, it’s crucial to adhere to specific rules and regulations outlined by the Uganda Wildlife Authority in their ‘Gorilla Rules’ leaflet. These guidelines are designed to ensure the well-being of the habituated mountain gorillas and minimize any potential disturbances.
Prior to Departure
- Limited Group Size: A maximum of 8 visitors is allowed to visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas each day. This limitation reduces behavioral disturbances and the risk of exposing gorillas to human-borne diseases.
- Hand Hygiene: Always wash your hands before heading out to meet the gorillas.
On the Way to the Gorillas
- Maintain Low Voices: Keep your voices low to minimize disturbance. This allows you to observe not only the gorillas but also the diverse bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
- Litter-Free Environment: Do not leave any rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
- Follow the Trail: Guides will take you to where the gorillas were observed the previous day. Follow the gorilla’s trail, and keep an eye out for their nesting sites.
- Preparation for Encounter: When approaching the gorillas, guides will provide instructions on how to prepare for the encounter.
When You Are with the Gorillas
- Maintain Distance: Keep a distance of 7 meters (21 feet) from the gorillas at all times. The farther back you are, the more relaxed the gorilla group will be.
- Stay in a Group: Remain in a tight group when near the gorillas.
- Quiet Voices: Keep your voices down, but feel free to ask the guide questions.
- No Smoking, Drinking, or Eating: Avoid smoking, drinking, or eating near the gorillas to minimize the risk of disease transmission.
- Responding to Charges: In the event of gorillas charging, follow the guide’s example by crouching down slowly, avoiding direct eye contact, and waiting for the gorillas to pass. Running increases the risk.
- No Flash Photography: Flash photography is not permitted. When taking pictures, move slowly and carefully.
- No Touching: Do not touch the gorillas; they are wild animals.
- Time Limit: The maximum time allowed with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas show signs of agitation or nervousness, the guide may end the visit early.
- Post-Visit Conduct: After the visit, maintain low voices until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.
By adhering to these simple guidelines, you contribute to the conservation of these magnificent creatures and ensure a safe and memorable gorilla tracking experience in Uganda.