About Gorilla Tracking

Gorilla Group (Family)
19 gorilla families at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and 1 gorilla family at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are habituated and open to public. Upto 8 persons per family are allowed to participate in gorilla tracking.

Gorilla permits
It is necessary to purchase gorilla permit in advance in order to participate in gorilla tracking.
At Bwindi, 19 families are divided by 4 areas, participants have to select the area at time of purchase of permits. Place of overnight varies according to the area.

Purchase of permit
  1. Upon receiving your inquiry, we will check and inform you on the availability of permit on your preferred date.
  2. After confirming its availability, we will send you an invoice. We purchase the permit after receiving your payment. We accept payments by credit cards and telegraphic transfer.
    ● There are no reservation systems in gorilla permits. They are sold on a first come first serve basis.
    ● In case permits are sold out by the time we receive your payment, we will try to find other alternatives area or adjust the itinerary. We shall refund you back your payment less bank charges if we have failed to find you an alternative.
    ● Kindly let us know the name of the participant, nationality and passport number at the point of payment. These details are needed in order to issue the permit.
  3. We will send you a copy of the permit in form of a PDF attachment once it’s purchased and retain the original copy.
  4. If you are cancelling the gorilla tracking, you can either resell the permit or return it to the park office and ask for a refund. Refunds on gorilla permit cancellations are as follows;
    ● More than 91 days before the tracking date / Cancellation fee is 25%  (Refund 75%)
    ● 90 to 46 days before the tracking date / Cancellation fee is 50% (Refund 50%)
    ● 45 to 9 days before the tracking date / Cancellation fee is 75% (Refund 25%)
    ● Within 8 days to the tracking date / Cancellation fee is 100% (Refund 0%)
  5. These conditions might change without prior notice.
The day of tracking
  1. ​Participants gather at the park office at 7.45am for an orientation session about gorilla tracking.
  2. After the orientation session, participants go into the forest with a guide and a ranger.
    ● If it’s known in advance that the gorillas are far from the office, participants will be driven to the entrance of the forest.
    ● Participants who are worried about their physical strength in regards to walking or carrying lots of filming equipment can hire porters who carry the baggage. A fee is charged for the service as this encourages ecotourism as porters are able to earn an income.
    ● A tracking team known as “Tracker” enters forest at dawn, and searches for the gorillas starting from where they slept the previous day.  The minute the gorillas are found, a communication is given to the guide who then leads the participants to the location where the gorillas are.
    ● If a participant falls sick along the way, a stretcher from the base is requested for at a fee. The stretcher will be brought between 30 to 60 minutes depending on the location of the sick participant. In the meantime, other participants will also have to wait for its arrival before proceeding with the tracking. As a reminder, kindly take good care of your health.
  3. After arriving where the gorillas are, participants will observe them for 1 hour.
    ● Participants will be asked to take off their bags plus other items and then they will approach the gorilla family with only their cameras and binoculars. The one hour of observation starts at this point.
    ● When the gorilla family moves, participants move along with it.
    ● Gorilla may try to threaten one if they find unknown person walking at the head. Therefore participants should not walk ahead of the guide.
  4. After an hour of observation, participants should immediately start walking back to the park office.
    ● Since participants have to be at the park office by 19:00 hours, in the unlikely event that they fail to see any gorillas, they have to start walking back in order to reach before 19:00 hours.
  5. When they arrive at the park office, participants will receive a certificate showing that they tracked gorillas.
Rules of gorilla tracking
1. In order to participate in gorilla tracking, one has to acquire a gorilla permit.
2. Anyone who has symptoms of flue, fever or infection will not be permitted to participate in the tracking.
3. One is allowed to spend only one hour with the gorillas.
4. One should stay more than 7 meters away from the gorillas.
5. Do not eat , smoke or talk loudly while in the presence of gorillas.
6. If a gorilla comes charging at you or comes very close to you, do not run way but simply step back slowly according to the guide’s instruction and do not look into the gorilla’s eyes.
7. Flash photography and video lighting is not allowed.
8. Keep quiet after tracking until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.
9. Participants below the age of 15 are not allowed to participate in gorilla tracking.
10.Participants must not throw any rubbish in the forest.
11.Participants must remain in the group with the guide while observing the gorillas. They should not act independently.

Transmission of diseases
Since gorillas and chimpanzees suffer from the same diseases as humans, a person with symptoms such as fever, cough and infection is not permitted to participate in tracking.  Since these gorillas don’t get access to medical care, minor diseases contracted from human beings could kill them.

Preparation for Mountain Gorilla Tracking
Shoes
Gorilla and chimpanzee tracking is done in a mountainous environment. Participants walk in forests where gorillas stay until they locate them. The length of the walk depends on where the gorillas and chimpanzees are. In some cases participants have to walk muddy trails or cross over small streams therefore endeavor to wear comfortable and durable walking shoes for the trek in the forest.
 
Rain gear
Gorillas and chimpanzees live in the rainforest and it’s very rainy in these forests. Participants need to prepare rain gear since tracking goes on despite the fact that it’s  raining. Separated rain gear (tops and bottoms) is recommended. As participants might have to walk for a long time, they may have to wear rain gear and those with Gore-Tex material are recommended.
 
Backpack
The Backpack is the best carry-on as participants have to walk for a long time in the forest. Waterproof backpacks are recommended considering the rain. It is also a good idea to have a raincoat on or poncho over the backpack
 
Gloves
Although it does not happen all the time, participants may have to go through rough paths, therefore wearing gloves could be helpful.
 
Hats
Since participants may have to walk under the direct sunlight or in the rain, a waterproof hat is recommended.
 
Porter
Porters can as well be hired. They are recommended for those who are not capable of / used to walking in the forest and probably have heavy equipment. This creates jobs for people and contributes to the local community as part of eco-tourism.