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Gorilla tourism is guided by well thought after rules that aim at protecting the mountain gorillas as well as the visitors. At all times, visitors should adhere to these rules so that the conservation of the mountain gorillas and their habitat be maintained. While it’s essential to respect and protect these magnificent creatures, it’s important to note that specific guidelines and rules may vary depending on the context whether you’re referring to gorilla trekking in the wild, interacting with them in captivity, or engaging in  conservation efforts. 

Here are Some General Guidelines and Rules Related to Gorillas

Before Departing On Your Gorilla Tracking

  • UWA allows a maximum number of 8 visitors to trek a single group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. Thus, it minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
  • You will not be allowed to trek gorillas if you show symptoms of a cold or other infectious illness.
  • Anybody can trek gorillas as long as they possess a gorilla trekking permit issued by the Wildlife Authority and they’re above 15 years of age.
  • Before engaging in the gorilla trekking activity, the lead guide at the trailhead shall brief tourists regarding gorilla trekking and the rules and regulations. COVID-19 prevention measures shall be an integral part of briefing messages and having Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials displayed.
  • Tourists must sanitise hands, wear a facemask and observe social distancing before, during, and after the briefing at the trailhead.
  • The tourists shall carry light equipment to minimise the need for porters while they undertake the tracking.

On The Way to The Gorillas

  • Please always keep your voices low and listen to the guide’s instructions and information as you trek through the jungle. You will also observe great birdlife, various plant species and other wildlife in the forest.
  • Due to the reported side effects of wearing masks for long periods and in high altitudes, visitors shall take frequent breaks during the tracking to give themselves time to breathe fresh air. During these breaks, social distancing shall be strictly observed.
  • DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
  • Since mountain gorillas build nests at sunset and stay there for the night, rangers head out before the gorilla trekkers hoping to find them where they left them the previous evening and stay with them all day. These rangers will direct your group to find them, and they do, you’ll be informed in time to get ready for the encounter.
  • When you find the gorilla family, your guide will ask you to leave your backpack and gadgets about 50 meters from the gorillas and will allow you to approach with only your camera or phone calmly.

When You Are With The Gorillas

The tourists must keep a distance of not less than 10 metres (32 feet) away from the gorillas. Although the gorillas may not observe this rule, the tourist should at least try to avoid contact. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.

You will be ordered to wear your face mask before approaching the gorillas and keeping it on during your stay. Make sure you carry two facemasks because you’ll be required to wear a fresh one at this point.

Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions and follow their instructions during your stay with the gorillas.

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 when they’re agitated and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk of the gorilla tackling you down.

Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures, move slowly and carefully.

Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals and do not understand your modern gadgets, tools and expressions. So, avoid contact at all times.

The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide may end 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 your visit might pose to them.
  • At the briefing points, visitors and staff shall wash hands or sanitize and have their body temperature taken. All the visitors, staff and trackers must wear masks. Before the mountain gorilla viewing commences, all people in the group shall sanitize their hands again.
  • Due to the reported side effects of wearing masks for long periods and in high altitudes, visitors shall take frequent breaks during the tracking to give themselves time to breathe fresh air. During these breaks, social distancing shall be strictly observed.
  • Briefing and debriefing shall be done in small groups of eight (08) tourists after being assigned gorilla families for tracking.
  • 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. The assigned UWA guides shall ensure the social distancing of 2 meters among the tourists while tracking, where practical.
  • If you are feeling ill or carrying a contagious disease, please stay at your boarding facility. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or ask your safari manager to process a refund. Tourists, staff, and porters who, during the briefing, are observed to be sick shall not be allowed to track. These include anyone with signs of flu and those who report having diarrhoea, stomach upsets and malaria, among others.
  • 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 to minimise the spread of bacteria or viruses.
  • Always stay 10 meters (32 feet) away from the gorillas. It’s to protect them from catching human diseases.
  • Do not leave any rubbish (e.g. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbour 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.


Always keep in mind that gorillas are wild animals, and their well-being should be the top priority. Whether in the wild or in captivity, following established guidelines helps ensure the safety of both gorillas and humans while promoting conservation efforts.