Gorilla trekking rules in DR Congo
The wildlife authorities in DR Congo, with the directive to protect gorillas, listed down gorilla trekking rules and regulations to follow while carrying out the activity. These rules and regulations enable gorillas to stay peacefully in their natural habits and people are able to meet them. Travelers before heading to the jungle to search for mountain gorillas must attend a briefing where they learn the rules and regulations of the gorilla trekking activity in Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park.
Rules and regulations of gorilla trekking in DR Congo (Kahuzi Biega and Virunga national park)
All trekkers must attend the briefing to learn about the rules and regulations of the gorilla trekking activity before heading to the jungle.
Gorilla trekking is done by people above the age of 15 years old because it’s believed that they are fit to complete the activity and follow the rules and regulations of the activity.
Trekkers that have signs of transmitted diseases such as cough and diarrhea are not allowed to take part in the gorilla trekking activity because these diseases can easily transfer to gorillas since they are vulnerable.
Trekkers are led by armed ranger guides into the jungle and these know well the trekking trails to use to meet the gorillas fast and they also protect the trekkers from dangerous wild animals.
A maximum number of 8 people is allowed to trek a single gorilla group and this is done to reduce behavioral disturbance to gorillas as a large crowd can cause discomfort and stress to these gorillas.
All trekkers must wash their hands and sanitizer before heading to the jungle and this is done to minimize the spread of covid19 to gorillas.
While in the jungle you are advised to keep your voices low but you can always ask your guide any questions you want about the attractions you find in the jungle.
When you spot the gorillas, you are advised to keep your voices low and move slowly towards them while keeping rules and regulations taught at the park headquarters.
After reaching the gorillas, you are advised to keep 7 meters away from them and this is done to avoid human beings getting in contact with them as they can transmit diseases.
Trekkers with glasses that have a reflector are advised to put them off as they can decide to approach you and find out more leading to some problems.
While around mountain gorillas and you feel like coughing or sneezing, you can move aside and do so while covering your mouth. This is done to prevent the gorillas from getting the same diseases.
While around gorillas and they move towards you, you are asked not to run away but pick some leaves, eat and you go on 4 legs like them so that they think you are another gorilla.
While around mountain gorillas, you are kindly asked to avoid direct eye contact as these apes can mistakenly take it for hostility. The gorillas believe that if you keep looking directly at them, you are an enemy who has come to disrupt them and challenge the silverback.
Smoking around gorillas is not allowed as the smoke can affect their health. What you have to do is wait or move away to smoke and return to your group later.
Eating around mountain gorillas is not allowed because they can grab your food, so what is normally done eating is done some distance away from the gorillas either before seeing them or after.
Photographing gorillas using cameras that have flashlights is not allowed because the flash can make the gorillas feel threatened and they can easily attack you.
While still in the jungle, littering anywhere is not allowed, you can keep your rubbish with you and put it in the tins that are outside the jungle.
When trekking and you want to ease yourself, please inform your ranger guide to dig for you a pit where you can ease yourself and later cover it.
After spending some good time with gorillas, trekkers are asked to keep their voices low until they are far away from these apes.
Time taken around gorillas is 1 hour and during this time, trekkers are able to learn about the habits of these apes, take photos and watch them do daily activities like hunting, nesting, breastfeeding, and coupling among others.
Where to trek gorillas in DR Congo
There are 2 species of gorillas that can be trekked in DR Congo and these are the mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas. The mountain gorillas can be trekked in Virunga national park where gorilla trekking is done among 8 fully habituated families. Virunga national park is located in the eastern part of the country in the Albertine rift region. The other places to trek gorillas in DR Congo and Kahuzi Biega national park which hosts eastern lowland gorillas. The national park is home to 5 habituated gorilla families in the eastern part of the country near Lake Kivu.
Price of the gorilla permit
Gorilla trekking permit for Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park costs $450 for foreign and foreign non-residents, and $200 for Congo citizens as well as East African citizens. In the rainy season, the price of the gorilla permits drops to $200 per person per trek for the case of foreign and non-foreign residents. The gorilla trekking permits are sold to persons above the age of 15 years old and they allow each trekker to be around these gorillas for 1 hour.
What to pack for gorilla trekking in DR Congo
After understanding the rules and regulations of gorilla trekking in DR Congo, you need to look for relative items to pack for the activity. For a good and memorable gorilla trekking safari, pack waterproof hiking shoes, a pair of gaiters, long-sleeved pants, long-sleeved shirts, a rain jacket, insect repellents, gardening gloves, a pair of gaiters, a hat, sunscreen, a pair of binoculars, a camera and extra batteries, drinking water bottle, energy-giving snacks, first aid kit, face masks and sanitizer
Best time to have gorilla trekking in DR Congo
Travelers from across the world can visit Kahuzi Biega national park and Virunga national park at any time of the year but there are months that are better than the rest. The drier months of June to September and December to February are the best to visit these national parks because the months are characterized by little or no rainfall which makes the trekking trails less muddy, the vegetation is short giving nice views of the animals and photography and lastly, the roads leading to the parka are passable.
Travelers can still visit Virunga and Kahuzi Biega national park in the rainy season of March to May and October to November to enjoy huge discounts on gorilla permits, and accommodation facilities. However, tourists need to know that during the rainy season, the trekking trails are muddy and slippery, the roads leading to the park are impassable and the vegetation is tall inside the park giving unclear views of the park animals.