Gorilla tracking activity is carried out in only two national parks in south western Uganda namely; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park which is Uganda’s portion of the Virunga Massif. Gorilla tracking in Uganda is an excellent option for those looking for a remarkable wildlife encounter, there approximately close to 500 mountain gorillas in Uganda and the world’s population is now shooting to 1000 mountain gorillas, the parks named above are the only parks where you can track mountain gorillas in Uganda. Given the diversity of wildlife, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has an excellent opportunity for, hiking, community experiences and birding safaris.
Before going for the tracking activity, all travelers are required to attend a simple briefing about the rules and regulations while with the mountain gorillas. These rules have been put there to ensure the safety of gorillas and trackers in the jungle. These rules and regulation were established by the Uganda Wildlife Authority to protect the endangered mountain gorillas and travelers from the possibility of disease transmission from human to gorilla hence gorilla conservation.
Before departing on your gorilla tracking
- 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.
- Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.
On the way to the gorillas
- Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
- DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
- 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.
- When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.
When with the gorillas
- A 7 meter (21 feet) distance is to be observed at all times from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
- You must stay in tight groups when you are near the gorillas.
- Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
- 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.
- 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.
- Flash photography is not permitted, when taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
- Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
- 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.
- After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.
General health rules
Remember that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following rules are ways to minimize the risk that your visit might pose to them:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
- Do not leave any rubbish (e.g. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
- 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 Safari
- Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
- Put on ear plugs for those who feel uncomfortable with the jungle sounds.
- Carry packed lunch and enough drinking water.
- Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent.
- Bring a camera. Using flashlight is not permitted so we recommend using films of 400-800 ASA.