Measures and Standard Operating Procedures for COVID-19 During Gorilla Trekking
Measures and Standard Operating Procedures for COVID-19 during gorilla trekking are preventive measures that have been designed by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in order to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Before setting off for actual gorilla trekking adventure in either Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, all tourists shall be briefed on the SOPs- Standard Operating Procedures to observe. They include;
- Hand washing & sanitizing is mandatory; then body temperatures should be taken at the briefing points either in Bwindi National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
- During briefing or debriefing, a maximum of 8 visitors are allowed to avoid crowds and each group of 8 tourists shall be allocated a habituated gorilla group to track.
- All staff, tourists and trackers must put on face masks.
- Anyone (visitors, porters & staff) who shows any signs of illness or sick won’t be permitted to go for gorilla trekking. They include signs of flu, diarrhea, stomach upset, malaria, cough etc.
- All tourists on gorilla trekking must maintain a distance of at least 10m from mountain gorillas either in Bwindi or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
- The allocated UWA guides must ensure that there is social distancing of 2 meters among trekkers while on a trek to see mountain gorillas.
- Before the actual trek to view mountain gorillas begins, everyone must sanitize their hands again.
- Light weight equipment should be carried during gorilla trekking to reduce the need for porters. Such important information can be accessed from your tour operator you plan to deal with or other UWA community platforms like UWA websites & social media platforms.
- Considering the reported side effects of wearing masks for long hours and in high altitudes, tourists will have frequent breaks while trekking gorillas to allow them breathe fresh air.
- In every breaks made, social distancing must be observed.
- Where a visitor or a member escorting the team of visitors encounters a health like issues, Uganda Wildlife Authority staff shall apply first aid and evacuation.
Regular gorilla trekking rules to observe
- All tourists are advised to keep low their voices while tracking gorillas in Bwindi or Mgahinga National Park. However, a tourist can ask the park guide as many questions as possible.
- All visitors must keep within their groups they left for actual trek to see mountain gorillas to avoid getting lost in the forest.
- Valid gorilla permits should be presented before the park official in order for a visitor to have a chance to trek gorillas.
- Only tourists who are 15 years and above get a chance to go gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
- During gorilla trekking, tourists should be led by an experienced park guide.
- Touching gorillas is highly prohibited.
- In case a tourist wants to ease himself/herself, all human wastes must be buried deep as recommended by the park guide.
- Time to spend with gorillas is strictly one hour- this is the moment you will enjoy face to face with these massive apes.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for park access and exit
- Uganda Wildlife Authority will offer hand washing or sanitization facilities at the park entrances or all its premises.
- All staff from UWA, researchers, tourists, research assistants and other visitor categories should wear face masks covering the nose and mouth.
- Visitors & researchers to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are advised to wear N95 masks, cloth masks with filters or surgical masks.
- Visitors with disposable masks like the N95 and surgical masks should have 2 or more masks-this is to ensure single use.
- Tourists with no masks or visitors who don’t observe handwashing or sanitization measure won’t be allowed to have access to the park.
- Tourists who show a body temperature above 37.5 Degrees Celsius won’t be allowed to access the park or protected areas and they shall be reported to district medical teams via the mechanisms put in place by Ministry of Health.
- For researchers, a hand sanitizer must be carried in the field.
Related Information: https://www.silverbackgorillasafaris.com/gorillas/gorilla-trekking-after-covid/