Post covid19 gorilla trekking safaris are now ongoing and travelers are allowed to visit and trek the endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, the endangered mountain gorillas stand a high risk of contracting the deadly corona virus. In order to avoid the transmission of covid19 from travelers to the endangered gorillas, responsible conservation bodies in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have put guidelines for gorilla trekking to ensure safety of the endangered gorillas and travelers. In addition to the initial gorilla trekking rules and regulations, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and Rwanda Development Board have added new guidelines to avoid any possibility of covid19 transmission
Covid19 Standard Operating Procedures for gorilla trekking in Africa
Wear a facemask: Since the outbreak of the deadly covid19, wearing a facemask has been a mandate for all visitors visiting to trek mountain gorillas. This applies to all gorilla parks including Bwindi Impenetrable Forest/Mgahinga Gorilla Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Wearing a mask prevents the spread of breath between gorillas and travelers hence limiting the chances of spreading the respiratory covid19. Masks prevent the spread of microorganisms through air, droplets, splashes and sprays across the two parties. At the start of each gorilla trekking day, all travelers are checked to ensure everyone is wearing a facemask. At Gorilla Trek Africa, we provide our travelers with facemasks for those who do not have. It’s advisable to change and use fresh masks after a short period of time to avoid any risk. Using a single facemask for a log period of time is highly discouraged.
NOTE: Facemasks have been added on the list of what to wear for gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Other things to wear for gorilla trekking include:
• Hiking boots
• Rain gear/jacket
• Gardening gloves
• Sun glasses
• Long sleeved shirts/blouse
• Long pants
Travelers are also asked to bring insect repellants to prevent bites from mosquitoes and other poisonous forest insects. More so, remember to carry enough bottled drinking water and energy-giving snacks to keep you string through the trek.
Other Standard Operating Procedures for gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo
Besides wearing a facemask, conservation bodies have put standard operating procedures for all travelers visiting to trek gorillas. These are read and explained to travelers during the pre gorilla trekking briefing at the start of the gorilla safari.
1. Temperature Screening: At the start of gorilla trekking, every traveler is screened to check his/her temperatures. A high temperature is one of the first signs of covi19. Travelers with high temperatures are therefore suspects of covid19 and will not be allowed to visit the endangered species.
2. Hand washing: It’s a mandate for everyone visiting gorillas to wash hands with soap and running clean water. The recommended tome for hand washing is roughly 20 seconds or more.
3. Hand sanitizing is also recommended for all travelers trekking gorillas. Carry your sanitizer to the jungle and sanitize often to keep safe and avoid any risks
4. Do not trek when ill. Travelers with any kid of sickness especially the respiratory diseases such as cough and flu and discouraged from visiting the gorillas.
5. Keep a 10 meters distance: While with the gorillas, travelers are advised to keep a distance of 10 meters away from the endangered species. This is to avoid close contacts with the gorillas, which can lead to the spread of the deadly disease.
6. Turn back your face when coughing. The fact that gorillas easily catch respiratory diseases, travelers are advise to turn back their faces from the gorillas when coughing
7. Do not touch gorillas: Touching is one of the easiest ways to spread covid19.
8. Do not eat or drink in presence of gorillas. Feeding gorillas is dangerous to the endangered gorillas
9. Flashlight cameras are not allowed when taking pictures for mountain gorillas. The flashlight frightens the gorillas forcing them to behave wildly.
The other things to know about gorilla trekking
To anyone planning a gorilla safari to Africa, you need some key information before making a final decision on where and when to trek gorillas. The key information you need to know about gorilla trekking include:
• Where do gorillas live? The endangered mountain gorillas only reside in the jungle forests of Bwindi, Mgahinga, Virunga and Volcanoes National Park. It’s only in these parks that travelers get to meet face to face with the gorillas.
• Cost of gorilla trekking: How much is a gorilla safari is another common question by future travelers. Well, you need a permit to allow you access these endangered species. Rwanda sells the most expansive gorilla permits at $1500 each. However, Rwanda Development Board is offering discounted gorilla permits to foreign residents in Rwanda $500 for post cvid19 gorilla trekking safaris. In Uganda gorilla permits costs $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for East African citizens. Uganda wildlife authority is also offering post covid19 discounted gorilla permits at $400 for foreign non residents, $300 for foreign residents and UGX 150,000 for East African citizens. Crossing over to Congo, each permit cost $450 but it’s worth it.
• Best time for gorilla trekking: Dry season in June, July, August, September, December, January and February is the best time for gorilla trekking. During this time, there are less or no rains, which ease movement up and down hills in search for the gorillas. However, the high demand for permit during the peak/dry season requires advance booking. Alternatively, you can trek gorillas in low/wet season in March, April, May, October and November when there are fewer visits and availability of permits is a guarantee even for last minute bookings.
• Which gorilla company to book with? Gorilla Trek Africa is your number one gorilla safari company to book gorilla trekking tour. We offer guided tailor-made gorilla tours to Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our excellent services have earned as numerous excellent travel advisor reviews being ranked number one gorilla travel agency in Rwanda and the whole of East Africa.
• Age limit for gorilla trekking: All travelers visiting gorillas should be aged 15 years and above. Anyone below 15 years is not allowed to take part in this lifetime experience. However, if a child has few days to celebrate his/her 15th birthday, his/her parents can sign a consent letter to UWA or RDB seeking permission to allow the child trek gorillas. The parent takes full responsibility for whatever happens to a child during gorilla trek.
Conclusively, mountain gorillas stand high risks of contracting corona virus. Travelers are advised to follow the standard Operating procedures and guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus to these endangered species. This will help to promote sustainable gorilla safaris in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.