Gorilla watching etiquette are set guidelines that every trekker on trek to see mountain gorillas in the wild should observe. Not only are they set to safeguard the lives of the endangered mountain gorillas but they also play a significant role in ensuring that tourists on a gorilla trek get the best of this life changing primate safari experience.
Despite an increase in the number of these creatures to 1004, their lives still remain at risk of extinction the fact that they are affected by poaching, habitat loss, spread of human infectious diseases among others. However, gorilla tourism has become an essential tool in protecting these unique creatures and other wildlife species. To ensure that lives of mountain gorillas are sustained, trekkers have to observe the set gorilla watching etiquette which apply across all the three countries (Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) where treks to see these magical creatures are done. They include;
Before embarking on actual gorilla trek
Prior embarking on actual trek to view mountain gorillas in the wild, a gorilla permit is a must-have tool if you are to be assigned to gorilla family to trek. The gorilla permits for Kahuzi Biega National Park, you need $400 to secure one. Part of the fees generated from gorilla tourism is used to facilitate different conservation practices in the respective gorilla destinations.
In order for you to embark on gorilla trek, you should be above 15 years. This is because trekking to see mountain gorillas can strenuous and also persons below 15 years are considered children who in most cases can easily be frightened.
Ensure that you have your walking stick, good camera with no flashlight and that you dressed well, especially on environmentally friendly attire.
Your physical wellness is essential in case you have any plans to take part in a trek to view eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Biega. Gorilla watching involves hiking through the lush vegetation and steep slopes of Kahuzi Biega. You will be allocated to one gorilla family and some of the groups require some physical wellness for you to make a complete hike.
Do not go to trek mountain gorillas if you are sick or you have any of the respiratory infections and communicable diseases like flue, tuberculosis, cold, cough and measles among others. Note, mountain gorillas share about 98 percent of their DNA with humans making them our closest relatives and also very susceptible to human infectious diseases. This rule is aimed at minimizing any risks of spread of such infectious diseases to these endangered species.
Wash your hands with soap before embarking on actual trek. This is to help you get rid of germs which may cause health threat to these rare species.
Only 8 trekkers are allowed to trek one gorilla family each day. This rule applies to all the gorilla habitats in Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC. This is to help reduce any likelihood of disturbance on the behavior of these creatures in their habitat.
On the trek to view mountain gorillas
Leave the gorilla habitat the way you found it or even in a better state. Never throw rubbish in the park, carry back your bottles to dustbins at the park headquarters.
Always keep your voices low while in search for your gorilla family. But feel free to ask as many questions as you can. This rule is essential the fact that it reduces cases where these creatures get scared away.
With with Eastern Lowland Gorillas
Once you find your gorilla family, always keep a distance of 7 meters away. This is to help safeguard them from spread of infectious diseases.
Do not touch mountain gorillas. Even when they get close to you, give them way and never be tempted to touch them.
You have only one hour to strike your imaginations with mountain gorillas, take photos and learn about their behaviors.
Keep within your group so that you don’t get lost.
Do not eat, drink or smoke in the presence of mountain gorillas.
In case of cough, please cover your mouth and in case you want to sneeze, cover your nose. This is aimed at avoiding spread of germs to these creatures.
Avoid direct eye contact with mountain gorillas and in case they charge against you, be submissive and do not look at them directly.
No flashlight camera is allowed when taking pictures of mountain gorillas and in case your camera has, please turn it off.
Do not go to trek mountain gorillas if you are sick. Mountain gorillas share about 98 percent of their DNA with humans making very susceptible to human infectious diseases.
In case you need to help yourself and the fact that there are no toilets in the forest, you advised to dig a hole about 30cm deep and burry your wastes.