If you are planning to do gorilla trekking, I am sure you have a lot of questions about the dos and don’ts thinking about going to meet these mammals that are almost extinct, you will feel that these are some of the protected animals in Africa. Definitely there are lots of dos and don’ts, most of them will be given to you at the briefing before the tracking but today I discuss some of those things you need to know prior to the tracking.
A maximum number of 8 visitors will see a group of habituated gorillas in a day as this minimizes the risk of behavioral change and exposure to diseases.
Only people of 16 and above will be allowed to track the gorillas. There are porters to help the elderly and the frail.
Ensure that you have clean hands as you head out to the gorillas, wash them before if need be.
On the way to the gorillas:
Always keep you voices low to watch out for other forest wildlife and not to scare the gorillas.
Don’t drop any rubbish in the park. Ensure that you carry all the trash you move with like the water bottles.
You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. It is from there that you will follow the trail to locate the gorillas. The guides will inform you when you approach the gorillas.
Keep a distance of about 7 meters (21 feet at all times from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be and the more chance to have the best experience.
Stay in the company of your group members.
Keep your voices down at all times. But, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
Kind of obvious, do not eat or smoke near the gorillas as this may increase the risk of disease transmission.
Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
Flash photography is not permitted and dangerous! When taking pictures you can move slowly and carefully.
Do not attempt to touch the gorillas. They are wild animals like any other.
The maximum time with the gorillas is 1 hour however if the gorillas are agitated the guide will advise to leave early, please adhere to this.
When heading away from the gorillas try to keep your voices low until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.
Respect the number of visitor limit imposed by authority per day as this limits the risk of diseases and hence saving for the future.
If you are ill or carrying a contagious disease like a cold please endeavor to stay behind and you money will be refunded or an alternative visit will be organized for you.
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 viruses.
Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
If you feel like visiting the toilet while in the forest talk to the ranger guide and he or she will advise accordingly.
Put on comfortable hiking shoes that will enable you hike as well as in sloping.
Put on ear plugs if you are not comfortable with forest sounds but I don’t think it is that scary because you will be in a group and you may also need to listen to instructions.
Carry a packed lunch and enough drinking water.
Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent.
You may also carry your camera in case you may want to take a few photos but put in mind that flashes should be off.
I wish you a great encounter with the gorillas.
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