There are a total of 19 habituated gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. However, only 17 of these are habituated and can be accessed by visitors and the remaining ones are for research. These families have undergone gorilla habituation, a process through which researchers visit the family to make the gorillas get used to human prescence. Gorilla habituation is a process that takes 2 years. During this time gorillas get used human beings they remain doing their routine activities in the wilderness even when human beings are present. According to the UWA conservation rules, only 8 adult visitors can be allowed to track each of the habituated gorilla group each day.
Before you set out for gorilla trekking and when you are with them;
- Don’t not visit the gorillas if you have a cold or other infectious illness, in case you sneeze or cough, turn away and cover your nose as well as the mouth in order to reduce the chances of transmitting viruses or bacteria to the mountain gorillas
- Maximum number of visitors is 8 per person per gorilla group
- Maintain a 7m distance from the gorilla, they are wild animals and we must keep distance to avoid transmitting diseases to them.
- Visitors are limited to one hour per gorilla group per day
- Don’t use flash photography
- If you must sneeze or cough cover your face and turn away from the gorillas, as they can catch coughs and colds from humans.
- Smoking, eating and drinking are not permitted on the tour
- Human waste should be buried 30cm deep, maintain good toilet etiquette, in case you need to go, and then ask the guide to dig a hole in the forest and also make sure the hole is covered up after wards.
- Always remain calm in case a gorilla charges, don’t run away, just crouch down slowly and avoid direct eye contact until the mountain gorilla moves off.
- Visitors are encouraged to wash their hands before going for gorilla trekking. You must not touch the mountain gorillas even though they come close to you.
- Always be prepared to remember and take warm plus waterproof gear for the cool mountain conditions in the wet forests and also wear comfortable hiking shoes.
The Gorilla Watching Etiquette
Just like any viable human being, one has to take good care of him/herself in order to have a befitting life without any disease as well as life threatening obstacles. So to minimize possible transmission of human diseases, visitors are asked to maintain a distance of 7m (about 22 feet) from the gorillas. If you are sick with a cold, flu or other contagious illness, please do not visit the gorillas.
- Viewing time is limited to one hour.
- Maximum 8 visitors per group.
- Spitting in the park is strictly prohibited.
- Should you need to cough, cover your mouth and turn away from the gorillas.
- When with the gorillas, keep your voice low.
- Try not to make rapid movements that may frighten the gorillas.
- If a gorilla should charge or vocalize at you, do not be alarmed, stand still, look away from the gorilla and follow your guide’s directions.
- Do not litter.
- Flash cameras are not allowed in the gorilla parks.
Please be in the Know;
Your trek is conducted under the supervision of park rangers
They will guide you to one of several habituated troops, whose movements are monitored around the clock. Some may feel this makes the experience a little stage-managed. In reality, it is the only way to see wild gorillas. You cannot simply wander off by yourself, the terrain is too dangerous, the apes are too elusive; and the rangers too focused on battling poachers to allow tourists to blunder off-piste. Indeed, it is only through the efforts of the dedicated park staff that apes survive at all.
Treks set out daily
Rangers keep park headquarters informed by radio of the gorillas’ whereabouts, so sightings are virtually guaranteed. After an obligatory briefing, you will be assigned to a group of up to eight trekkers, plus guides and porters. Each group is allocated to a particular gorilla troop. The trek, including one hour with the gorillas, may take anything from three to nine hours, depending on the location of your troop. If you miss the briefing, or show up with a cold – which poses a serious health risk to the apes – you will be turned away, permit or no permit.
Each group is allocated to a particular gorilla troop
The trek, including one hour with the gorillas, may take anything from three to nine hours, depending on the location of your troop. If you miss the briefing, or show up with a cold which poses a serious health risk to the apes you will be turned away, permit or no permit.
You can visit the gorillas all year round, and because of the rain forest climate, it can rain any day of the year, so there is not any time of year to particularly avoid travel here. April and May are the rainiest months, so most people avoid travel at these times.
When setting out you should expect to get muddy and rained on, so a waterproof jacket is essential. The exertion will keep you warm, so layers are best. We have also found it a good idea to wear long trousers to protect your legs against nettles, and a T-shirt with a long-sleeved shirt over the top.
A waterproofed day pack is essential for your camera, water bottle and snacks. For a small fee, porters can be hired to carry your day pack and help you up the steeper slopes.