There is a set of gorilla trekking rules and regulations that were set for all the tourists to follow for the safety of these species.
Virunga national park is a UNESCO world heritage site located in the east of democratic republic of Congo (DRC) which is the continent’s most biologically diverse protected area and national park embarking on an ambitious development program known as “Virunga Alliance”. The park has a vision of harnessing the park’s natural resources to create new opportunities for the four million people that live around its borders. Virunga national park is focused on three areas: hydropower, sustainable agriculture and fisheries, and tourism which is looked at as a way of transforming the region’s economy by creating jobs and reducing poverty rates.
As for tourism, the park lies in the Albertine rift valley in the eastern part of DRC and was created in 1925 putting it among the first protected areas of Africa. The park covers an area of 8090km2 extending to the borders of Uganda and Rwanda, in the Semuliki rift valley and the Rwenzori Mountains which makes it one of the most diverse tropical rain forest and the oldest national park in Africa.
Virunga national park has got a number of attractions ranging from the physical features like a number of mountains, volcanoes, lakes, thick montane forests, birds and wildlife. For instance, there are two active volcanoes in the park, Mount Nyirangongo and Nyamuragira.
Additionally, more than 3000 faunal and floral species are available. It is also a habitat for the rare mountain gorillas. One can view lakes like Kivu, Edward, Semuliki river basin, montane forest in the Albertine rift, mountains like mount Stanley, Rwenzori mountains and others.
How to get to Virunga national park for gorilla trekking?
Accessing this park is very easy, you just need to fly to Kigali international airport where you get to connect to Gisenyi and towards Gisenyi border of Rwanda and Congo to Goma town in DRC. It is just 2 hours’ drive from Gisenyi to the park headquarters.
Which is the best time to go trekking in Virunga national park?
Going gorilla trekking has no specific time since the park is usually open for trekking throughout the year however, there are drier months of the year like December, January, February, June, July, august and September suitable for trekking since the park is usually dry with no slippery tracks, short vegetation cover to make it easy for you to see and track the gorillas. Virunga national park experiences tropical kind of climate and weather which makes it open for trekking throughout the year.
What rules and regulations do you follow as a tourist in Virunga national park?
There is a set of rules and regulations for all the tourists to follow for the safety of these species. Gorilla trekking is where a group of people under a guide go tracking for gorillas. They are usually free to socialize and take pictures of them.
However; for the good of these endangered species, there are rules and regulations that every tourist is supposed to follow:
- If the tourist is ill, the park has a right to refuse him/her to go trekking in order to protect the apes from contracting the disease.
- The number of tourists visiting the gorilla group is strictly eight per group. Also, there is one visit per day per gorilla group. This reduces behavior disturbance, stress and possible risk of infection of the gorillas.
- If a silver back gorilla beats its chest, do not run away but stay quietly still and follow the guide’s instructions. This is because it is the safest way to respond to it when it charges.
- Visitors should use low voices even when bitten by stinging nettle or by safari ants to minimize any chances of behavioral disturbance and frightening the gorillas. Newly habituated gorillas may get afraid to get closer near noisy humans and in case gorillas are around, they might leave.
- Flash photography is illegal because the gorillas may charge since they are afraid of flashlights.
- Time spent with the apes is only one hour except for those under the habituating process. This is because reduces behavior disturbance, stress and possible risk of infection of the gorillas.
- All visitors must remain in at least seven meters away from the gorillas, in case the apes approach you, slowly retreat back to five meters or else, remain where you are and follow the guide’s instructions. Keep your bag packs away from the apes, they might approach and investigate them. This is to reduce any chances of aggression towards the tourists.
- Visitors must be 15 years and above to minimize the risk of exposing gorillas to childhood sickness like flu viruses, mumps, chicken fox etc.
- Tourists should remain in a group without spreading or surrounding the apes to give the gorillas’ space to move without creating any feeling of threat to them.
- Where necessary, visitors should sit or crouch whilst while watching the gorillas because the gorillas find it intimidating to stand taller than them and stare. When someone stands biped ally, it displays threat or aggression to the apes.
- All rubbish should undergo proper disposal. This is because it is very attracting for all animals and may cause problems. Incase swallowed, it can be a source of germs or an infection to the gorillas and other animals.
- Visitors must not stare straight at the gorillas, point or raise their hands. These gorillas understand body language and this is a sign of threat and aggression to them.
- Visitors should not clear the bushes for a clear view near the gorillas, because it frightens the gorillas. The guides will clear he vegetation themselves if it is necessary.
- Eating, drinking, and smoking is illegal near the gorillas. They might approach you out of curiosity or distract them from what they were doing. Also, the food droplets might be a source of infections for the gorillas.
- If a tourist wants to sneeze or cough, turn away from the gorillas. This is because you might infect them with the virus unknowingly.
- If a tourist wants to ease him/ herself, one can use a machete for digging a hole of 30cm to burry all faucal materials. Faeces are highly infectious to the apes and other animals.
Why you should hire us?
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Our company can help you plan and prepare for your gorilla trekking safari in DR Congo. Right from transporting you from Kigali to your accommodation facility. Furthermore, we will advise you on the best safari ideas, trips and all facilities you need.