Things not to do in Rwanda
If you are going on a gorilla safari, don’t ignore the porters who offer their services. There are always more porters than there is work, and many of the men and women will have walked miles to get there just to get a day’s work, so it is really worth using them. The going rate is about £9-13 but people often tip on top of that as well. So please don’t hesitate as they come from local communities, some of whom have a history of poaching gorillas for the sale of bushmeat. So, as with all cases of wildlife conflict, we need to show the people that gorillas are worth more alive than dead. And if your tour operator doesn’t encourage the use of a porter, question them on that, and just go for it anyway.
Don’t invade Rwandan’s privacy by asking probing questions about its recent painful history. Although Rwandans want to embrace a peaceful new era, the country is still recovering from a civil war and genocide in which approximately a million people were murdered. Many lost relatives and friends and today most people still don’t want to discuss it but try to move on. Consequently, be wary of asking someone about their ethnic origin as it is still a very sensitive area.
Rwanda’s strict conservation management system of gorillas comes with stringent rules which must not be broken to ensure that we do not harm the gorillas or their habitats by spreading disease and bacteria. You will be briefed on these by your tour operator, but the main ones include not gorilla trekking if you are ill, keep voices low, keep a distance of 7m, do not eat or drink and don’t use flash photography. And always do what your guide says.