Wednesday, June 24, 2015
WHAT TO WEAR AND TAKE WHILE TRACKING GORILLAS
WHAT TO WEAR AND TAKE WHILE TRACKING GORILLAS Whichever family group you visit, you may have to walk a long distance in steep, muddy conditions, possibly with rain overhead, before you encounter any gorillas. Put on your sturdiest shoes. Ideally, wear thick trousers ad long sleeved top as to protect against vicious stinging nettles. It’s often cold when you set out, so start out with a sweatshirt or jersey [which also help protect against nettles]. The gorillas are thoroughly used to people, so it makes little difference whether you wear bright or muted colours. Whatever clothes you wear to go tracking are likely to get very dirty you slip and slither in the mud, so if you have pre- muddied clothes you might as well wear them. When you are grabbing for handholds in thorny vegetation, a pair of old gardening gloves are helpful. Carry as little as possible, ideally in a waterproof daypack of some sort. During the rainy season, a poncho or raincoat might be a worthy addition to you daypack, while sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are a good idea at any time of year. You may well feel like a snack during a long hike, and should certainly carry enough drinking water – at least two litres. Bottled water is sold in locally at the accommodation facilities. Especially during the rainy season, make sure your camera gear is well protected – is your bag isn’t waterproof, seal your camera and films in a plastic bag. Binoculars are not necessary to see the gorillas. In the theory, bird watchers might like to carry binoculars, though in practice only the most dedicated are likely to make use of them – the trek up to the gorillas is normally very directed, and walking up the steep slopes and the thick vegetation tends to occupy one’s eye and mind. REGULATION AND PROTOCOL WHILE TRACKING GORILLAS Tourists are permitted to spend no longer than an hour with the gorilla, and it is forbidden to eat or smoke in their presence. It is also forbidden to approach within less then 5m of the gorillas, a rule that is difficult to enforce with curious youngsters [and some adults] who often approach human visitors. Gorillas are susceptible to many human diseases, and it has long been feared by researchers that one ill tourist might infect a gorilla, resulting in the possible death of the whole troop should they have no immunity to that disease. For this reason, you should not go gorilla tracking with a potentially airborne infection such as flu or a cold, and are asked to turn away from the gorillas should you need to sneeze in the presence. To the best of our knowledge, no tourist has ever been seriously hurt by habituated gorillas. An adult gorilla is much stronger than a person, and will act in accordance with is own social codes. Therefore it is vital that you listen to the your guide at all times regarding correct protocol in the presence of gorillas.