Gorilla Viewing Protocol
Twelve habituated groups can be tracked and observed in the Volcanoes National Park. While tracking expeditions do not necessarily cover enormous distances, they can range in length from 1-8 km (0.5-5 miles) over very steep country at high altitudes. The undergrowth can be thick, the ground beneath muddy, and, including the time spent with a gorilla group, excursions can last between 2 and 8 hours.
Gorilla viewing protocol is based on the guidelines issued by the IUCN for great ape viewing. Such protocols are designed specifically to limit stress and behavioural impact and also potential disease transmission from humans to gorillas. They are critical for gorilla conservation.
- Maximum viewing duration of any group is 1 hour per day.
- Maximum number of guests per gorilla tracking excursion is 8.
- No food or drinks can be consumed close to the gorillas.
- Smoking is not allowed.
- Do not litter.
- Spitting in the Park is strictly prohibited.
- While gorilla sightings and encounters are very reliable, viewing is dependent on variables such as weather and tracking conditions.
- When with the gorillas, please keep your voice low. Do not make rapid movements that may alarm them.
- Should you need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and turn away from the gorillas.
- If a gorilla should charge or vocalise at you, do not be alarmed, stand still, look away from the gorilla and follow your guide’s instructions.
- Minimum age for gorilla viewing is 15 years – this is for reasons of safety but also for possible disease transmission, with children under this age more prone to infection.
Again, to minimise possible transmission of human diseases, visitors are asked to maintain a distance of 7 metres (about 22 feet) from the gorillas. Guests that display cold, flu or other respiratory tract symptoms will not be allowed to track gorillas.