What to do when a Gorilla Charges?

What to do when a Gorilla Charges ? Thousands of tourist flock the national parks in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to view the fascinating endangered gorillas in their natural habitat. Many that have made it to these dense forests can tell you about the thrilling experience they get while spending time with the gorillas. Gorilla tours present amazing, exciting, magical and stunning experiences that are cherished for a long time. 

What to do when a Gorilla Charges ?

Despite their formidable size, gorillas are social, gentle and calm primates that live in the jungle. Many that live in the national parks have been habituated and are familiar with the visitors that always show up in their territories. However, this does not guarantee a safe trek all the time. Since they are wild animals you should always be cautious all the time because it is very hard to predict the behavior of a gorilla once you are around it. Gorillas are curious animals that are always alert and want to protect their groups.

How do gorillas charge?

A gorilla mainly a silverback charges by thumping its chest multiple times, grunting loudly and releasing a very strong odor that can be smelt by humans from about 26 yards away to mark its territory. The voices are so loud and they will keep throwing vegetation at you. In case this happens to you or you are under such a scenario, be assured that the gorilla is pretty angry.

Additionally, mountain gorillas are very strong and fast so this means in case they feel insecure with your presence, they are not afraid to attack and defend their group members. Mostly the leaders of the group are the ones that attack such as the Silverbacks in the group. A question rises, in a scenario where a silverback charges at you, what are you supposed to do to protect yourself and prevent accidents on both parties. The following are some of the things you can do to safely save yourself.

Follow the guidelines

First and foremost, before you go for gorilla trekking in the park, you are given an armed ranger. These people are professionals and understand the behaviors of the different gorilla groups. They can tell the trekkers of any change in the gorilla behaviors. What a trekker should do is follow the ranger’s guidelines and never walk alone but rather be part of your group to increase the chances of safety.

Crouch Down

As a gorilla charges, it stands on its hind limbs so as to seem large and scary. All you have to do is bend low and make yourself small compared to the gorilla. This is an indicator that you are not challenging it hence there is no reason for fighting you.

Walk Steadily

When gorilla charges, never ever run away from it but rather all you need to do is slowly walk back as you flee the scene. The moment you run away the gorilla will run after you at a quick speed in the sense of hurting you because to them you will be a threat to their group.

Pretend to be an Ape

Sometimes one to survive, one has to blend in. You can do this by pretending to be an ape yourself. As the charged gorilla approaches you, you have to act like an ape by pretending to eat some vegetation as you look up or away so that you avoid eye contact and also this makes the gorilla think that you are part of them and minding your own business.

Study how the gorilla behaves

An angry gorilla will thump the ground; throw vegetation at you while making loud noises. However, in some cases the gorilla might get close to you and hold your hand since they are curious wild animals and what to know their surroundings. Now in this case just calm down and don’t scream but rather act like you are grooming it. This will get them to relax and their grip will become loose.

Avoid eye contact

During gorilla trekking, never ever try to make eye contact with the gorilla. If you do this, this will be a sign of a challenge with the gorilla. All you have to do is look away or the trees up so as not to act a threat to the group you are trekking.

 Keep a distance from gorillas

Trekkers are advised to keep at least 8 meters away from the gorillas. You are not allowed to get into physical contact with the gorillas because they are wild animals unless they come to you by themselves such as the young ones that want to keep playing around.

Other gorilla trekking guidelines

Trekkers are given guidelines during their pre gorilla trekking briefing. These rules and regulations are put in place to ensure the safety of the trekkers and the gorillas in the jungle. They are many and some of them include the following;

  • Do not trek when sick
  • Avoid flashlight cameras
  • Do not feed the gorillas
  • Do not get into physical contact with the gorillas
  • Do not litter in the park
  • Always stay with your group and never walk alone in the jungle
  • Always be calm, quiet when spending one hour with the gorillas.
What to do when a Gorilla Charges ?
What to do when a Gorilla Charges ?

Access to the gorillas

In Africa, you will find the endangered gorillas in East and Central Africa. The mountain gorillas can be found in the Virunga Massif that is composed of three national parks that is Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda has another park that is home to the mountain gorillas that is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. However, the Democratic Republic of Congo has another gorilla subspecies known as the Eastern lowland gorillas that you can find in Kahuzi Bienga National Park and Maiko National Park.  

Best time to visit the gorillas 

High season- The rains are less making it favorable to tourists to trek the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. The high seasons occur in the months of January, February, June, July, August, September, and December where there are fewer or no rains at all. During traveling in the high season, travelers are not affected by the weather making gorilla trekking beautiful experience. Most importantly, you should know that the demand for gorilla permits is high and you are advised to book prior to arrival on your African safari.

Low season-The areas experience heavy rains that disrupt the trekking activity. In the months of March, May, April, and November are recorded to have the heavy rains and this discourages a great number of travelers. On the other hand, the low seasons are the times of the budget travelers. In this season the prices are on discount because of the low counts of travelers in the region. The accommodation facilities in this low season are very favorable since the occupancy rate is low.


All in all, whenever you are trekking gorillas, be very cautious and submissive plus be with the armed ranger full time and don’t be away from your group or move alone. This will increase your safety and protection hence a good magical experience in the jungles of Africa.

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