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Mountain Gorilla Tracking Regulations

The Mountain Gorilla is the world’s rarest ape, so special care must be taken when visiting the Gorillas to ensure their protection and the safety of visitors.  There are two primary negative impacts that must be considered when visiting the Gorillas.

The first is to reduce the amount of stress and behavioral disturbance caused to the Gorilla families when receiving visitors.  The second is to avoid the possibility of disease transmission.  The close genetic similarity between humans and Gorillas means that Gorillas are extremely susceptible to human diseases and viruses, and vice versa.

A standard set of Tracking Rules have been established to insure that these negative impacts are minimized.  Please carefully read the rules and follow them when you are tracking Mountain Gorillas.

1.  Briefing – The evening before your gorilla trek, your guide will give you an in depth briefing, covering the risks involved in the Trek and giving a full explanation as to why it is so important to follow the rules outlined below.
2.   Illness – If you have been feeling ill (diarrhea, fever, vomiting) or if you have the slightest sign of a respiratory illness (coughing, sneezing, stuffed up nose, or runny nose) you must volunteer to stay behind.  An alternative visit will be arranged for you or the park will make arrangements for some type of refund.  Please don’t break this rule as it can lead to an entire family being infected and possible even death to one or several members of this rare species.
3.   Group Size – A maximum of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated gorillas in a day.  This rule has been established to minimize behavioral disturbances to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
4.   Disinfectant – Visitors are required to wash their hands prior to the start of your gorilla trek.  In some areas shoes will also be disinfected.
5.   Noise Level – Please always keep your voices to a low level.  This will also increase your chance of enjoy the birdlife and other wildlife found in the forest.
6.  Encounter Preparation – Your guide will inform you when you are in close proximity to the gorillas.  At this time you should prepare your camera, give your walking stick to a porter or guide and prepare yourself for your visit.
7.   Viewing Distance – You must maintain a distance of no less than 7 meters/21 feet from the gorillas at all times.  This is to protect both Gorillas and visitors from disease transmission.
8.    Tracking Group – The group should stay together and visitors should follow the guidance of the tracking rangers.  Please also consider the others in your group, taking turns for the good photo positions.
9.    No Contact – There should be absolutely no contact between visitors and gorillas.  If a curious Gorilla approaches you, slowly move away.  Never attempt to touch a Gorilla.
10.  Cough or Sneeze – If you have to cough or sneeze while you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth.
11.  Stay Calm – On occasion a Gorilla might charge visitors.  Stay calm, crouch down slowly and DO NOT look the gorilla in the eye.  Wait for the gorilla to pass and follow the instructions of the rangers.  DO NOT run away, this may only increase the risk of a serious confrontation.
12.  Photography – You are more than welcome to take photos of the gorillas, but you must insure that your flash is deactivated.  A flash from a camera can frighten the gorillas which has been the cause of the only serious incident between Gorillas and visitors.
13.  Eating and Drinking – Do not eat or drink while near the gorillas.  Your guide will inform you when you are at a distance in which you can eat or drink.
14.  Time Limit – No more than 1 hour can be spent in close proximity to the Gorillas.  If the Gorillas become agitated or nervous, the ranger may end the visit early.
15.  Smoking – Smoking is not permitted during the trek.
16.  Toilet – If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask your guide to dig you a hole and ensure that you cover it when you have finished.
17.  Litter – Everything taken into the forest shall be carried back out.  Trash like food wrappers, drink bottles, or tissues can harbor diseases.