Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations are a set of guidelines and principles pre cautiously put in place to conserve the mountain gorillas’ health and safety as well as ensuring that visitors do not get hurt by the unusual and unpredictable behavior of the gorillas.

These are the same as Dos and Don’ts for gorilla trekking.

It should be noted that Gorillas are extremely vulnerable to human illnesses and infection and become strained if too many visitors arrive or advance too closely, remember that these are indeed wild individuals and will always act defensively to protect their young ones especially when strangers are in their territories.

Therefore, as you plan to visit Rwanda or Uganda for gorilla trekking, the following Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations can serve as a guideline principle and please kindly ensure that you obey then if you to have the best experience with the gorillas. You can also obtain a leaflet copy of these rules issued out by the Rwanda Development Board and Uganda Wildlife Authority at the park headquarters).

Consider the following set of guidelines in as far as gorilla trekking rules and regulations are concerned.

Before the hike for gorilla trekking begins

  1. You should know that only a maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
  2. Remember to keep your hands clean always before and after being with the gorillas.

On the way to the gorillas

  1. Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
  2. DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
  3. You will be taken to where the guides observed 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!
  4. When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.

How to behave when you are with the gorillas

  1. In the Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations, A 7-meter (21 feet) distance should try to be observed at all times from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
  2. You must stay tight in your group whey you are near the gorillas.
  3. Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
  4. Do not smoke, drink or eat when 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
  7. Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
  8. 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.
  9. After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.

General health rules on gorilla trekking

Remember that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations are ways to minimize the risk your visit might pose to them:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
  5. Do not leave any rubbish (eg. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
  6. If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are finished.

What to bring on your Gorilla Trekking Safari

  1. Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
  2. You may opt to put on earplugs for those who feel uncomfortable with the jungle sounds.
  3. Carry a packed lunch and enough drinking water.
  4. Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent.
  5. Bring a photo of a film camera. Using flashlight is not permitted so we recommend using films of 400-800 ASA.

Mountain Gorilla Etiquette Guidelines

  • Keep a distance of about 6 to 7 meters, which is about 15 feet from the Mountain Gorillas.  This way you protect the mountain gorillas from diseases and illnesses humans may be carrying and not seem threatening to gorillas since you.
  • Stay together as a group when you are in the presence of the Gorillas to reduce potential confusion of the gorillas.
  • Voices need to be kept low, and it is best to keep silence and treasure the moment with the Mountain Gorillas.  Keep your views down until you are well out of range of the Mountain Gorillas.
  • Do not take food or drinks and no smoking in the presence of the Mountain Gorillas.
  • Don’t stare straight into gorillas’ eyes – this can be seen to be aggressive. Don’t ever run from a gorilla – if one approaches you to act submissive and crouch down.  If you sneeze or a cough, turn your head away from the gorillas so as not to spread your germs.  No flash photography is permitted.  Do not make a lot of movement when taking pictures-keep it calms. There is no touching or attempting to touch the Gorillas.