Gorilla Pre Trekking Briefing – What it’s all about
Every gorilla trek in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo is preceded by a briefing. This short meeting is one thing you can never dodge on your gorilla safari to East and central Africa. Whether in Uganda, Rwanda or Democratic Republic of Congo, all travelers attend a briefing before embarking on gorilla trekking. Briefing is all about introducing travelers to trekking rules and regulations, which ensure smooth gorilla encounters and safety of mountain gorillas in the presence of tourists. No traveler is allowed to see mountain gorillas if he/she does not show up at the briefing point. For that matter, a briefing precedes every gorilla trek in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, Mgahinga gorilla national park, Volcanoes national park and Virunga national park.
Where does gorilla briefing take place
In all cases, gorilla briefing take place at the national park headquarters. For Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, which has many sectors, travelers gather at a specific head quarter in a respective sector. Due to distance from one sector to another, the Uganda wildlife authority has set up a head quarter in each sector to avoid long travels by visitors as they go for briefing.
At what time is the briefing?
Briefing is done at as early as 7:00am everyday. All travelers are expected to be ready at the briefing point by 7am to meet the park ranger. Travelers who sleep far from the briefing point such as outside the national park are reminded to wake up as early as possible not to miss out any message. Travelers connecting from Rwanda to Uganda set off a t 4:am to cover up the 3-4 hours drive and border crossing and reach in time.
What else is done at briefing point?
After travelers have been introduced to the dos and don’ts with the gorillas, travelers are then put together in groups of eight people. Each group of eight people is allocated to one gorilla family for an hour. The allocation of a gorilla family depends of traveler’s ability to hike, age and the physical fitness of the travelers. If you are trekking gorillas in bwindi, the allocated gorilla family must be in that specific sector. Travelers are reminded to disclose their hiking ability to their guide so as to get appropriate families. The hikes are categorized as short, medium and long depending on the ease and difficulty of finding mountain gorillas. Travelers with limited physical fitness are given short treks to avoid any difficulties in hiking while the adventurous are given long treks which help them to adventure the wilderness more the more. In Rwanda, travelers are privileged to have a cup of coffee, which keeps them warm in the early cold mornings. Also, there is a traditional dance during the briefing, which reward them with extensive cultural knowledge making the whole safari a memorable experience.
Also, its during briefing that travelers are checked thoroughly to ensure they have all it requires to see these endangered species. Travelers are asked to submit their gorilla permits and other travel documents such as passports for clarifications. Here park rangers accurately check the names of travelers, date of birth, nationality, sand other information to ensure there is no forgery. Travelers are therefore reminded not to leave behind documents that provide detailed information about them. Travelers who do not meet the qualifications such as those below 15 years are not allowed to see gorillas despite what. Also, any traveler with no valid permit is not allowed to see enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.
Among the cautions travelers are given during briefing include:
Whichever gorilla destination traveler choses to trek mountain gorillas, the trekking rules and regulations are similar
Keep a distance of seven meters
Staying seven meters away from mountain gorillas is a must for all trekkers. This to protect these endangered species from catching deadly human wildlife diseases especially the communicable disease such as cold and cough. Mountain gorillas share over 98% of human genes which exposé them to human disease. For this case, a traveler with any kind of sickness is not allowed to trek gorillas even if he/ she has all other travel requirements including the gorilla permit. In case of an abrupt sneezing or coughing, travelers are advised to turn back their faces from the gorillas to ensure their safety. This caution is strictly for travelers. In case a mountain gorillas with no idea of the distance to keep, comes near the traveler. He or she is advised to move away from there and avoid close encounter seven meter distance is also aimed at protecting travelers from catching diseases from mountain gorillas. Also, travelers are cautioned not to touch or feed mountain gorillas in any way.
Keep within your group
As already said, travelers are put in groups of eight who are allocated one gorilla family. Each traveler is reminded to keep within his/her group to avoid trouble. Walking alone through the jungle expose a traveler to dangerous wild animals, which live in the forest as well as a risk of getting lost within the jungle. Also, follow the park rangers’ instructions such as stepping back in case the silverback charges and keeping calm all times.
In general, a pre trekking briefing is a crucial session of every successful gorilla trekking tour. Be part of the briefing, learn more about the trekking rules and regulations of trekking and enjoy a lifetime experience with the critically endangered species in the natural habitat.