Gorilla trekking rules and regulations for Virunga National Park
Are you planning to visit Virunga National Park in Congo for Gorilla Trekking, below are the set of Gorilla trekking rules and regulations that you will have to follow during your gorilla trek. These have been carefully developed to protect the mountain gorillas’ health and safety in Virunga National Park. Gorillas are extremely susceptible to human diseases and infections, and become stressed if too many visitors arrive or approach too closely. To remain healthy and survive, these apes need to be undisturbed by visitors, and allowed to eat, rest and socialize with their own species. The rules and regulations below as well describe the reason why you need to follow them.
RULE 1: If a tourist is ill, the park Staff has the right to refuse a visit to gorillas.
REASON: To protect the great Apes from contracting an illness or disease.
RULE 2: Only one visit is allowed per day and the number of tourists is limited to eight per group.
REASON: To minimize behavioral disturbance, stress and possible risk of infection.
RULE 3: Visitors must be at least fifteen years old.
REASON: To minimize risk of exposing Gorillas to childhood diseases (e.g. Mumps, Chickenpox Measles) and cold or Flu viruses.
RULE 4: The time spent with great Apes is limited to one hour.
REASON: To minimize behavioral disturbance, stress and possible risk of infection.
RULE 5: Flash photography is not permitted.
REASON: It can upset or frighten Gorillas and may provoke an aggressive reaction or charge.
RULE 6: All visitors must remain at least seven meters away from Gorillas at times. If the great apes approach to two or three meters (as curious juveniles sometimes do) then visitors should slowly retreat back to five meters. If this is not possible, then the visitors will be asked to remain where they are. The guide’s instructions should be followed at all times. Keep your backpack and other items in places where young Gorillas can’t approach and investigate them.
REASON: To minimize disease transmission, stress and behavioral disturbance, to reduce the chance of possible future aggression towards tourists; and to prevent the Gorillas becoming too habituated to humans.
RULE 7: Tourists should remain in a tight group, without spreading out or surrounding the great apes.
REASON: This allows the apes plenty of room to move where they want to, without felling threatened (which may provoke a charge).
RULE 8: Where possible, visitors should sit or crouch whilst watching the Gorillas.
REASON: It can be very intimidating or threatening to Gorillas if you stand taller than they are, and stare. Standing biped ally is part of the great apes’ threat or aggressive displays.
RULE 9: Body language is important, and visitors should not raise hands or arms, or point, nor stare at them.
REASON: To gorillas these behaviors are signs of threat or aggression.
RULE 10: Visitors should not clear vegetation close to Gorillas so that they get a better view.
REASON: This can disturb or frighten the Gorillas. The guides will clear away vegetation, if it is possible and necessary
RULE 11: If a silverback gorilla beats his chest, displays or charges at you, do not run away. Tourist guides are asked to stop tourists from moving or running.
REASON: Although a charge may be frightening, the safest thing to do is remain quietly where you are.
RULE 12: Eating, drinking and smoking are not permitted near the Gorillas, or within 200 meters of them.
REASON: The behaviors could distract them and cause problems if they approach out of curiosity. Food and other remains can be a source of infection.
RULE 13: Visitors should be as quiet as possible, and whisper. If bitten by Safari ants or struck by stinging nettle, do not scream.
REASON: To minimize behavioral disturbance and avoid frightening and avoid frightening gorillas. Newly habituated gorillas may be afraid to come anywhere near noisy tourists, and if gorillas are already present, they may leave.
RULE 14: If you, the tourist, need to sneeze or cough, turn away from the great apes and try to cover your nose and mouth.
REASON: To minimize the spread of airborne bacteria or viruses that you might unknowingly be carrying.
RULE 15: All faucal materials must be buried. A machete may be borrowed from guides, a thirty centimeter (ten inch) hole dug and then the hole filled.
REASON: Fasces can be highly infectious to great apes and other animals.
RULE 16: All rubbish must be removed from the park, and visitors are asked to be particularly careful not to drop small items, such as, film boxes / canisters, tissues or handkerchiefs.
REASON: Apart from being unsightly, rubbish can interest animals, can cause problems if swallowed, and can be a source of germ or disease transmission.
About Virunga National Park DR Congo
Virunga National Park is one of the most diverse tropical rain forest and oldest national park in Africa mostly famous for mountain gorilla trekking in Congo, among other activities done here include Nyirangongo volcano hike, bird watching, Nature walks, Chimpanzee tracking and Habituation. It should be noted that there three countries that have mountain gorillas in the whole world. These countries include Uganda, Democratic republic of Congo and Rwanda. Rwanda mountain gorillas are found in Volcanoes National Park, Uganda gorillas are found in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park while Congo mountain gorillas are located in Virunga National Park. All these national parks are close to each other in what is termed as the Virunga massif.
What is the best time to visit Virunga National Park for Gorilla Trekking?
Virunga National Park is located in the tropics and with this it experiences tropical climate and weather throughout the year making it open for gorilla trekking throughout the year. The dry season months which occurs in the months of December, January, February, June, July, August and September is the best time for gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park, during these months it is always easy to walk through the trails which are drier compared to the wet months then as well the vegetations is not fully grown and this makes sighting of gorillas easy and more clear.
Where to stay in Virunga National Park
Accommodation in Virunga National Park ranges from budget, mid-range to luxury. Budget options include Bukima Tented Camp and Kibumba Tented Camp among others fares range from 90-100 dollars a night per person, mid-range options include Tchegera Island Camp and Lulimbi Tented Camp among others fares range from 100-200 dollars a night per person and then Luxury options include Mikeno Lodge fares range from 200-400 dollars a night per person. You let us know the best option that works for you and we will check for availability and book for you accordingly.
How to access Virunga National Park for gorilla trekking?
Virunga National Park is located in the Eastern Part of Congo. To get to this park you will fly to Kigali International Airport then connect to Gisenyi town; from Gisenyi town you will cross the Rwanda-Congo boarder to Goma town in DR Congo then drive towards the park headquarters of Virunga National Park from where you will start the gorilla trek from, it is approximately a 2 hours’ drive from Gisenyi town to reach the park headquarters.
Why book Gorilla Trekking in Virunga National Park with Encounter Africa safaris
Encounter Africa Safaris was established in 2011 with an aim of providing unrivalled and professional tour and travel services in Uganda, Congo, Tanzania ,Kenya and Rwanda. Since then, Encounter Africa safaris as established herself as one of the leading tour operator for Uganda and Rwanda. Encounter Africa boosts of a professional office and field team that takes care of all your requests and inquiries. We are full members of AUTO (Association of Uganda Tour Operators) and work closely with Uganda Wildlife Authority. We are highly recommended on trip advisor as well as Safari bookings. Our website is one of the best and reliable point to help you start preparing for your DR Congo mountain gorilla safari from Kigali as we have the best and update information that you can rely on. Encounter Africa safaris is owned and run by Ugandans and as such, you will be dealing with a team that sells what they know.