What you should know about gorilla trekking in Uganda

It is a very exciting morning when you head off to the starting point in search of your mountain gorilla group. However, there are few very important  things you should know.

The age limit is 15 years old and it is important to be fairly fit you are walking up and down hills at quite an altitude. I was 6 months pregnant and managed it but was lucky as we only walked about an hour and half....

The limited permits are USD 500 per day. They are non-refundable, but if you look for the gorillas all day and fail to see them you are re-imbursed 75%.

A tip for you: If you are carrying a heavy rucksack or bag, it is worthwhile employing a porter for about USD 10 or 20 a day. This will enable you to slip and slide without worrying about dropping your camera and leaves you hands free to support yourself. A walking stick is also useful. It is bound to be wet, so do take a rain coat, umbrellas are useful to protect your camera when trying to take photos of gorillas in the rain or mist! Good hiking boots and long trousers would be sensible.

Before setting off on your gorilla hike, wash your hands.

a) It is a good idea to keep your voices low.
b) The guides will take you to where they found the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorilla's trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla's nesting sites along the way
c) DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you
d) A maximum number of 6 visitors may visit a group of habituated gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.

a) A 5-meter distance should try to be observed at all times (15 feet) from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases and they will be more relaxed in your company.
b) You must stay in tight group whey you are near the gorillas.
c) Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is OK to ask the guide questions.
d) Do not eat or drink while you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases
e) Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (which is to crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass. Do not try and to take picture and do not attempt to run away. Running away will increase the risk.
f) Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
g) Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals. They might look cuddly but!
h) The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
i) After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 metres from the gorillas.

a) Remember gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following are ways to minimize the risk your visit might poses to them. Therefore respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
c) If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
d) 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.

Posted by: Alex

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