It is important to prepare yourself before your Gorilla Trekking adventure. Herewith some top tips to assist with your final preparations.
Gorilla trekking protocol
- Wash your hands before setting out
- Do not eat or drink when near the gorillas
- Try to stay at least seven metres from the gorillas; retreat if they approach. Don’t ever run from a gorilla – if one approaches you just act submissive and crouch down.
- Don’t stare straight into gorillas’ eyes – this can be seen to be aggressive.
- Keep your voice low – but feel free to ask quiet questions of your guide
- Don’t go gorilla tracking if you’re sick – gorillas are susceptible to human illnesses, and if one gorilla in the group catches flu from you, then the entire group could die.
- Don’t forget cash for tips. It is customary to tip guides, porters and trackers.
- Assess your fitness. A trek is not an endurance test, but some degree of fitness helps. In Rwanda you can usually opt for a shorter hike
- Flash photography is not allowed, so prepare to take photographs in dark conditions (low f/stop and high ISO help). Protect camera gear with waterproof bags
- Shoot video too. It’s fairly easy video to shoot – you’re close to the gorillas and they don’t move very fast. You’ll be glad that you shot a video of this once-in-a-lifetime moment.
- Go twice, if you can afford it. You will see new things second time around
What to pack
- Light raincoat/waterproofs
- Lightweight hiking trousers and long-sleeved top
- Hiking boots, or sturdy hiking shoes with ankle support
- Gardening gloves, for handling nettles on the trail
- Only take essentials in a small backpack – two bottles of water, a snack, camera, hat and sunscreen.
- Field guide to birds of East Africa
- Passport – to verify your trekking permit against your identification
Before you go
- Read: Gorillas in the Mist (Dian Fossey, 1983); In the Kingdom of Gorillas (Webber and Vedder, 2002); Bradt Guide to Rwanda/Uganda (both Philip Briggs)
- Watch: Life on Earth – episode 12 “Life in the Trees” (BBC TV, 1979)
- Uganda and Rwanda are in a yellow fever and malaria zone. Make sure you receive your vaccination and appropriate meds beforehand.
Click here for more information on Gorilla trekking.