What to expect
To help you prepare for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of gorilla trekking, here's more detailed information about what you can expect.
The trek itself
The trek starts in the early morning and after border formalities you are transferred to a ranger’s station where the trek commences. Your rangers will lead you through cultivated lands, then into dense rainforest and as close as is allowed to a gorilla family.
The rangers monitor the gorillas on a daily basis and have a fairly good idea of where they are. However, they are free roaming animals, and their sighting cannot be guaranteed. Trekking can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 8 hours and can be quite strenuous, so a reasonable level of fitness is required.
Time with the gorillas
To ensure the gorillas don’t get too used to human presence, and because they share many of our genes and are able to catch our diseases, the maximum time permitted to spend with them is 1 hour. This is plenty of time to watch their activity and take photographs.
The rangers will be able to provide you with a background to the family you are visiting. Then, once your hour is up, you trek back out of the rainforest to your meeting point.
Those considering gorilla trekking should realise the demands and unpredictability of the areas visited. Often, the trek through thick, dense jungle can be somewhat strenuous and due to the nature of the gorillas and their habits, viewing cannot be guaranteed.
Although the groups of gorilla that are seen on jungle treks have been habituated, they have not been tamed and their behaviour is not demonstrably different from that of non-habituated groups. Nobody forces them to stay for the allotted hour, and they can fade into the forest as you appear, if they wish to do so. They are wild animals and will do as they please!
Further, as gorillas are extremely sensitive to human disease, the park authorities will not allow anyone they consider to be in poor health to visit the gorilla groups. Additionally, no children under 16 years of age are permitted to visit.