Gorilla tracking in Rwanda takes place in Volcanoes National Park (Parc des Volcans). Gorilla tracking is a million dollar practice with immense economic benefits to the local community, without which the mountain gorilla conservation would be a liability. This daily adventure has made the mountain gorilla one of the most expensive animals though not in league of the teddy bears.
Gorilla tracking is a clean practice (eco friendly) which ensures minimal impact to the local community, the environment and the gorillas. Rules and regulations have been put in place for the safety of the trackers, the gorillas and to check adverse environmental impacts. Besides these rules and regulations guarantees the continued existence of the gorilla as species, that is to avoid the extinction of the gorillas.
You could be that close to the gorillas. However look at rules and regulations before you land into lots of trouble.
Popular gorilla tracking safaris
Encounter with the Gorillas has been described as "thrilling, evocative and even emotional." The gigantic silver-backs are gentle and will rarely attach unless provoked. Young gorillas are a bit adventurous even playful and will come to touching distance of individual trackers. They are particularly attracted to bright colors like yellow. In that case avoid them.
" Gorilla Trekking Rules and regulations / dos and don'ts have been put in place for the safety of the trackers, the gorillas and to check adverse environmental impacts. Besides these rules and regulations guarantees the continued existence of the gorilla as species, that is to avoid the extinction of the gorillas."
The following are the rules and regulations of tracking gorillas.
1. Gorilla tracking in Rwanda – Submissiveness
When you encounter gorillas, you are required to portray total submissiveness. Do not look at them straight in the eyes and avoid standing over them. If the male gorilla charge at you, crouch down. Gorillas have freedom of way. Do not drum your chest. Do not shout, talk in whispers. The guides will advice on how to behave on encounter. Always follow the instructions from the guides.
2. Rwanda Gorilla Tracking/ Gorilla Photography/Photographic Safaris.
Flash photography is prohibited. Tourists are allowed normal photography and filming for domestic use. Special Photographic and filming safaris may be organized for particular groups. These will include those who want to film specifically for commercial use and documentaries. These will require accreditation cards unlike normal tourists.
3. Health of the Gorillas
There are currently approximately 700 mountain gorillas in the wild. Thus these animals are classified as endangered species. Gorilla tracking if unchecked can endanger the life of gorillas. Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is restricted to 8 persons per day per group. That makes a total of 56 permits per day.
Avoid tracking gorillas if you suffer from contagious disease. In case you develop a severe case of flu, your money will be fully refunded if you make this known in advance. However if you attempt to track and fail for whatever reason, or if the guides discover that you cannot track due to disease, you are disqualified for any refunds and may even be fined.
Do not sneeze towards them
Do not spit in the forest or defecate carelessly. If you need to the guides will help you with a machete to dig a hole to bury your waste.
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4. Environmental consciousness
Gorilla tracking is a clean activity. Leave only your footprints in the national park.
Do not litter and if you spot any litter, collect it and take it down with you.
Do not collect any souvenirs from the park.
5. Eating while tracking gorillas
You can carry your picnic but do not eat in the vicinity of the gorillas. You eating might encourage the gorillas to come and share your delicacy with you.
6. Chest beating
Please do not imitate the male gorilla chest beating. The silver back will take that as a challenge and charge after you which can result in severe injuries. Please note that you are not liable for any compensation for any animal related injuries in the parks. Though charging has not been reported for a long time, please avoid any provocation as you will come out second best.
7. Age Limit: Only people of 15 years and above are allowed track gorillas. However young children can engage in other activities in volcanoes like tracking golden monkeys.
Tracking gorilla Rwanda Tips, Gorilla Hiking and Trekking facts, Tips
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How hard should one prepare for gorilla tracking in Rwanda? The facts below will help you to answer this question.
Rwanda Gorilla trekking takes place at altitudes of 3000 metres-this means that moderate/ average physical fitness is what is necessary and not athletic fitness.
Trekking, hiking and Tracking gorillas is conducted by patient, qualified and knowledgeable ranger guides with wide knowledge in natural history with particular attention to gorilla behaviour
Gorilla tracking is conducted at a moderate pace with plenty of stops for resting, fielding questions further briefs etc. Competitive hiking is discouraged as the aim of the guides, porters and rangers is for all the group members to make it to the gorillas and back to the base. Believe it or not, the slowest hiker/ trekker will determine the pace of the trek.
Clothing-long sleeves both shorts and shirts are ideal for tracking. They protect you from stinging nettles and insect bites. For those who like hats, try a baseball cap as it is gorilla friendly. Ankle level hiking boots are ideal for tracking. The down pours of Volcanoes National Park are heavy, extremely cold and sporadic. Bring a raincoat to avoid getting drenched and a warm cardigans.
Carry at least 2 litres of water as hiking is tiring and dehydrating.
Bring water proof containers for your cameras. This is applies even to water proof cameras.
If you have heavy equipments hire a porter.
In case of being charged by silver backs crouch. This is a sign of submissiveness and the silver-back will terminate the charge