COVID-19 preventative measures for gorilla trekking in Rwanda: Coronavirus still exists in Rwanda and the world at large. Since its outbreak in 2019, normal activities such as gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park were and still interfered. COVID-19 pandemic is a respiratory disease and mountain gorillas being human closest relatives sharing up to 98% of their DNA, tourists visiting Rwanda for gorilla trekking must observe maximum caution.
To help curb wide-spread of Coronavirus from humans to mountain gorillas, a number of COVID-19 preventative measures for gorilla trekking in Rwanda were introduced and must be adhered to at all times. The Rwanda Development Board and Ministry of Health in Rwanda introduced a number of preventative measures for COVID-19 and they include;
- When visiting the assigned mountain gorilla group family, all tourists on Rwanda gorilla safari must wear facemasks. This is to limit wide-spread of the COVID-19 virus from humans to gorillas. These large apes are very vulnerable to infectious and respiratory diseases such as COVID-19.
- A good social distancing must be kept from gorillas and from trekker to trekker. At least 2-4m distance must be maintained from one trekker to the other. During your visit to see mountain gorillas, your park guide will always remind you of social distancing to reduce higher chances of spreading the virus.
- A complete distance of 10 meters must be kept away from mountain gorillas at all times and this applies to all participants on gorilla trekking tour during the course of the day including the park guide. Maintaining such a distance can help reduce any likelihood of coronavirus spreading from humans to primates.
- Hand sanitizing or hand washing is mandatory and even when you come across gorillas, ensure that you have sanitized again before you start taking pictures.
- At the entry point to Volcanoes National Park, all tourists shall undergo body temperature screening before gathering for briefing on gorilla trekking rules and allocation of mountain gorilla families.
- Maximum of 8 tourists shall be allowed to go visit a single gorilla trekking family in Volcanoes National Park and each gorilla trekking group will be accompanied by the park guide.
- Littering of gorilla habitat is highly prohibited and always keep the park clean more than you got it. For visitors who may want to help themselves while in the wild, make sure that all human wastes are buried deep as directed by the park guide/official.
- Only visitors with negative COVID-19 results can go visit mountain gorillas- this is in line with the normal gorilla trekking rules/guidelines where gorilla trekking is done by only persons not ill/sick.
- When you come across mountain gorillas, don’t touch them. Touching these apes puts them at risk of contracting infectious human diseases.
Other Rwanda gorilla trekking measures
- Strictly one hour is what you will enjoy face to face with gorilla family- this is for you to take pictures, learn about their behaviors and other facts about these apes.
- Valid gorilla permits are essential requirements for all Rwanda gorilla safaris to Volcanoes National Park. A single gorilla permit in Rwanda can be booked by only travelers of 15 years and above. The cost of Rwanda gorilla permits is US Dollars 1500 per person per day of trekking mountain gorillas.
- Avoid direct eye contact with gorillas- this can save you from charged gorillas and in any case you have encountered charged gorillas, stay calm and observe what the guide tells you.
- Use of cameras is allowed except flashlight cameras- if your camera does flashlight, please turn it off prior taking pictures.
- Keep low your voices while in the forest tracking gorillas in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda.