As you meet the mountain gorillas, you must know that conserving them takes center stage. These mountain gorillas may seem intimidating by the outlook, they are vulnerable too. As briefing is a must attend before the gorilla safari, you must religiously honor the rules and regulations of this adventure. This aims to protect the mountain gorillas from the after effects of human presence.
Keeping a space of about 22 feet or 8 meters away from the mountain gorillas when you meet them. This is to reduce on the chance of passing any communicable germs to the mountain gorillas that can cause there massive death.
The Virunga area which is made up of Bwindi Impenetrable National park, Mgahinga National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park is one of the still virgin habitants where primates like the mountain gorillas thrive. Every visitor on gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation experience must respect this environment.
Responsible tourism is compulsory during the gorilla safari in Uganda, Rwanda and D.R.Congo for sustainability. The gorilla conservation bodies of each of these countries and international bodies with a common goal of reviving the glory of the mountain gorillas are working together to give you the best of your gorilla safari but conserving them as the number one priority. Reading and understanding the rules and regulations of gorilla safaris is top priority of this campaign.
Note that breach of the gorilla safari guidelines make cause you to be disqualified from gorilla trekking or habituation experience without refund.
Stay in a tight group upon finding the mountain gorillas
While on gorilla safari, avoid scattering the forest as tourists or seem to be surrounding the mountain gorillas because you make them feel ambushed. Mountain gorillas are very sensitive to intruders in there vicinity. When you locate them, keep close in the group of maximum 8 tourists in order to make the gorilla family comfortable with your presence.
Keep a distance of about 8 meters or 22 feet from the mountain gorillas
Staying very close to the mountain gorillas exposes them to chances of catching communicable human infections like flu, covid-18, cough. These infections may result into there massive death yet conservation of mountain gorillas has consumed a lot of time and money even one death of one gorilla is a big blow to there conservation.
Never drink or eat while with the mountain gorillas
Chances of the mountain gorillas grabbing or sneaking to pick what your eating are high while taking photos or watching them. These are wild animals that must not depend on human provision but the forest. Even there bodies are not used to some human foods which may cause some health complications. In order to save the mountain gorillas do not eat or drink before them.
Talk at a very low tone or keep quiet while with the mountain gorillas as unfamiliar noise in there environment may push them into hiding yet limited time is given with them for conservation reasons .
Do not run when mountain gorillas charge
Sometimes the mountain gorillas may charge when angered. They tend to thump hard there chests, pull grass around them, walk on one foot and so much more. Don’t panic or make noise as you may cause a stampede in the forest. Not all the time that mountain gorillas show there anger that its because of your presence. Wait for the ranger guide to establish the root cause of the mountain gorillas aggressiveness and follow his or her instructions.
You may be requires to crouch down slowly, bow before them as a sign of submission to the autonomy of the dominant silverback, chew grass to show that you are with them and so much more.
Never stare into the eyes of the mountain gorillas
In nature mountain gorillas have an intimidating out look that is dark fur, huge body structure, walk by knuckle locomotion and others. Despite there scaring look, they are calm, shy and serene primates. When you stare into there dark brown sunken eyes, you make them feel uncomfortable. This may cause them to run into hiding.
Using flash photography is forbidden
As you take photos during gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation experience, never use flash photography because you may scare the mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are agitated by unfamiliar occurrences in there vicinity. They tend to run into hiding and cause chaos in the wilderness which may antagonize even other gorilla families.
Even when taking photos, move slowly and carefully in order not to look suspicious.
Never touch the mountain gorillas
Mountain gorillas are wild animals that do not need your cuddle. In appearance, you may be cast by there adorable spell. The infants may walk over to you but do not touch them as there mothers are in watch and the rest of the gorilla family.
Mountain gorillas are wild animals so you can easily catch an infection from touching them.
Gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation experience have limited time
Upon finding the mountain gorillas only one hour is allowed with them during gorilla trekking and four hours is allowed with the mountain gorillas during gorilla habituation experience. The time taken searching for the mountain gorillas is unknown because it depends on factors like the proximity of there food, weather condition in the forest, in case of a fight with another the mountain gorilla family, pace of other tourists and so much more.
Stating with the mountain gorillas is limited for conservation reasons so as to minimize disturbance. When the mountain gorillas get nervous or agitated, the ranger guide may end the visit early before it gets violent.
Provoking or mimicking the mountain gorillas is unacceptable
Mountain gorillas have feeling too so do not try to provoke there patience. They may miss interpret your communication and react differently although they are calm primates. When you mimic them, you may be sending a wrong communication which may through them into a stampede.
After the visit, keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the mountain gorillas
Mountain gorillas operate a spy network so even as you depart from them, they may follow you up to some distance without your notice. Try to follow the guidelines given during briefing time in order to complete the trek successfully.
Is Gorilla safari difficult?
As you plan your gorilla safari, know that the nature of the terrain is mountainous due to volcanic action in this area. The Virunga area has six prominent mountains that influence the topography if this area. Sometimes the mountain gorillas feed at the slopes of the plateaus and ridges which you may be required to hike.
The vegetation of the Virunga area has survived numerous centuries and tangled. In case you must push your way through, you need to protect your body from harsh surfaces like stinging nettles.
The ground surface where mountain gorillas live gets soggy and slippery especially in the severe rain seasons making the trek to find the mountain gorillas strenuous.
As you search for the mountain gorillas, the ranger guide trims the obstructing creeper that may be difficult to penetrate in order to get where the mountain gorillas are.
Although gorilla trekking or habituation is strenuous, the feeling if being just meters away from the mountain gorillas is unmatched.
Whether you go for gorilla safari in Uganda, Rwanda or D.R. Congo, this adventure is annual. Most tourists however prefer the dry season which is usually June to September and December to January. In this period, the animals and birds are usually in great spirits.
Note that this season is normally the high tourism season too so demand for gorilla permits is cutthroat. You need to purchase gorilla permits for this period in advance that is 6 month to a year upfront to be on a safe side. Last minute gorilla permits for the peak season are hard to get.
The wet season that is March, April, May and November usually has more chances of last minute gorilla permits in Uganda, Rwanda and D.R.Congo however this is not a guarantee all the time. Gorilla permit availability in all these countries changes any time without warning so advance purchase is necessary too.
In case you have a limited budget, the wet season which is normally the low season too may have some special packages from service providers like accommodation facilities, car hire, driver guides as they try to break even.
What is the Age Limit For gorilla Safaris?
15 years over is the age limit for gorilla safaris because of the unique nature of the topography where mountain gorillas live. a child below 15 years may not be in position to hike to get where the mountain gorillas may be hiding.
At a glance, mountain gorillas look scaring because of there huge body structure, covered in dark fur and deep sunken eyes. It may hard for a child below 15 years to contain freight yet you should show the mountain gorillas that you are scared or you may a look suspicious before them.
Children below 15 years may not be physically fit to last the entire time in the wilderness you no returning until the gorilla trek or habituation experience is complete.
How Long is the Gorilla Safari?
The time taken on gorilla safari day depend on a number of factors like the location of the mountain gorillas feeding ground, weather conditions of the day, in case of death of a family member, when the gorilla family is adventurous, pace of trekkers and others.
You are required to have some level of patience and bare an open mind about other interesting features in the forest like other primates, birds, butterflies and others. When you just focus on finding the mountain gorillas, you may get bored and loose the moral before finding the mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking is an unmatched safari experience enjoyed by just a few lucky tourists.
Watching the mountain gorillas in reality is way more powerful than viewing them just in videos or animations.
This makes it hard to identify which gorilla family is the easiest to trek as the closest gorilla family the day before may be the furthest the next day.
Safari boots comfortable enough to protect your feet from the harsh ground and soggy trails created from flooding dense network of rivers.
A sweater or poncho warm enough to keep you warm the early morning and late afternoons
Garden gloves to help you catch a tight grip on creepers as you hike to get to the mountain gorillas.
Safari hat with a large brim to protect you from water that drips off the trees.
Camera for taking memories of your adventure with the mountain gorillas as this is a dream come true experience.
Long sleeved shirt and trousers in colors that are wilderness friendly like Khaki, tan. Carrying camouflage seems more military in Uganda and Rwanda so do not pack them.
A torch to use for lighting in the night because lights run out in accommodation in the safari areas because solar energy is the main source of power.
First aid kit with emergency medication that ca used for quick treatment where necessary.
Some hard cash to exchange into local currency in case you are to purchase something on ground.
Rainproof gears as it falls in this area any time without warning.
A waterproof backpack to carry with your gorilla safari gears.
Toiletries in case your lodge doesn’t provide.
Travel adopter to use when charging
A pair of binoculars to get a clear picture of interesting features in the wilderness.
Insect repellant to keep away stinging insects in the wilderness.
How Safe Is Gorilla Safari?
The gorilla safari in Uganda and Rwanda safe because there are Uganda Wildlife Authority or Rwanda Development Board trained ranger guides to protect the mountain gorillas, there habitats and the tourists.
You must remember to carry your gorilla safari gears top protect your body from rough surface in the jungle.