For most travelers, trekking the Gorillas ranks among one of the absolute highlights of a trip to Uganda, and the spine-tingling feeling that you get being so near to one of our closest relatives is hard to describe.
Mountain Gorillas are one of the world’s most endangered apes and it is estimated that there are only 720 (approximately) left throughout the world. Almost half of these can be found in Uganda, as well as populations in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to The Ugandan Wildlife Authority, there is a 95% chance that you will come across the Gorillas on your trek. Your journey will be an exhilarating one: cutting your way through dense jungle, thick bamboo, past local homesteads and up forested hills… Tracking times do vary and can be anything from a little as 30 minutes to 7 hours! But your efforts will be rewarded with your first sighting of the Gorillas, as these gentle giants shyly approach you and you come face-to-face with one of nature’s greatest animals.
In Rwanda you may meet the famous Susa group, who Dian Fossey spent a lot of her time with during her research.
Gorilla permits in Uganda & Rwanda
We offer permits in both Uganda (Nkuringo, Ruhija, Rushaga, Buhoma and Mgahinga) and Rwanda (Parc National Des Volcano’s). Due to demand, it is recommended that you book your permit well in advance. We advise you to book up to 3-5 months before your intended date of departure.
Matoke Tours can arrange your Gorilla permit, transportation and accommodation in order to ensure that you have the experience of a life time!
Gorilla Trekking Rules
THE WAY TO THE GORILLAS
- A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group (family) of habituated Gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbances to the Gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
- Always wash your hands before you head out to the Gorillas.
- Do not leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back with you.
- You will be taken to where the guides left the Gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the Gorillas’ trail to find them. Look out for the Gorillas nesting sites along the way.
- When you approach the Gorillas, the guides will inform you when to get your cameras ready.
- Please always keep your voices low. This will ensure that you will be able to observe the beautiful birds and other wildlife in the forest.
WHEN YOU ARE WITH THE GORILLAS
- Keep a minimum distance of 7 meters (21 feet) from the Gorillas. (This reduces the risk transmitting diseases between humans and Gorillas.
- Keep your voices low at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
- Do not eat or drink while you are near the Gorillas.
- Sometimes the Gorillas charge. Follow the guide’s example by crouching down slowly, and do not look at the Gorillas in the eyes. Wait for the gorilla to pass you by and do not attempt to run away (this will increase the risk of attack).
- Flash photography is not permitted, when taking pictures, move slowly and carefully.
- Do not touch the Gorillas. They are wild animals.
- The maximum time visitors are allowed to spend with the Gorillas is one hour; however, if the Gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will end the visit early.
- After the visit, keep your voices low until you are at least 200 meters away from the Gorillas.
GENERAL HEALTH RULES
- Remember Gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following guidelines are to ensure that you minimize the risk your visit might pose to them.
- Respect the limit imposed on the time that visitors are allowed with the Gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
- If you are feeling ill, or have a contagious disease when you are already at the park, please volunteer to stay behind. An alternative visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded (as per the gorilla reservation guidelines).
- 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 germs.
- Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the Gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
- Do not leave any rubbish e.g. food wrappers in the park. Such 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. He will fill it when you have finished.