Primate tracking safety precautions

How to limit dangers and annoyances

Please note: by reading the advice below, you may get the impression that primate tracking is a dangerous activity. This is not the case. Tracking gorillas and chimpanzees can be considered very safe as long as you treat them with respect and use common sense. It is extremely rare that dangerous incidents occur, and your professional guide is there to ensure your safety. The advice below is solely intended to further lessen the already minimal risk.

Mountain gorillas are, in essence, gentle giants. They show very little aggression toward each other and their overall vibe is extremely peaceful. Chimpanzees are, by nature, a lot more aggressive but the groups you can visit are habituated. Aggression towards humans in that context is extremely rare.

  • Always follow your guide's instructions and guidelines.
  • Great apes are susceptible to human diseases. Never visit if you are ill and turn away if you need to cough.
  • If you need to go to the toilet, dig a hole in the ground and cover it up if you need to go to the toilet. Apes can get diseases from your feces.
  • Always keep the recommended distance (at least 5 meters / 15 feet) between you and the primates. Back off if the animals approach you to close that distance.
  • Slowly back off if any chimpanzee or gorilla shows aggression towards you.
  • If a gorilla charges follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass).
  • Never look large primates in the eyes.
  • Don't use a flash when photographing.
  • Don't talk or laugh too loud.
  • Don't make any quick movements.
  • Stay close to your guide and group.
  • Never block the path of chimps or gorillas when they are walking.
  • Never take food or drink close to chimps or gorillas. You can leave your daypack behind with the trackers when you approach the animals.
  • Watch where you put your feet while walking in the forest.
  • In the forest, cover your arms and legs to avoid nettles and use insect repellent to protect against mosquitoes. The repellant should contain at least 20-30% DEET.
  • Wear a hat, use sunscreen, and drink plenty of water.
  • Bring good waterproof clothing and a waterproof bag for your camera and other belongings.