Is Gorilla Trekking Safe
Gorilla Trekking is a dream for many travelers worldwide but is Gorilla Trekking safe? How safe is Gorilla Trekking? These are some of the frequently asked questions by tourists intending to visit the Gorillas. Moreover, witnessing Gorillas in their natural habitat involves that ancient skill of tracking wildlife on foot. There is neither driving nor flying in the forest. Think of the nature of the terrain in which the Gorilla habitat is located, how dense the forest is and the nature of the Gorillas themselves – aren’t they aggressive to humans? Are the Gorilla trekking countries safe? In this article, we shall be addressing those fears and concerns regarding the safety during Gorilla trekking.
Is Gorilla Trekking safe?
Yes, Gorilla Trekking is safe. First and foremost, Gorilla Trekking as a wildlife encounter doesn’t only enrich travelers, but also contributes to Gorilla conservation efforts by supporting local economies and national parks. Gorilla trekking permits cost $450 in Congo, $700 in Uganda, and $1500 in Rwanda. Approximately 200 people track mountain gorillas in these countries each day. Therefore, ensuring the safety of both gorillas and tourists is paramount in this endeavor.
How safe are the Gorilla trekking countries (Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo)?
In terms of safety, Uganda and Rwanda are generally considered safer options due to their stable political environments and rigorous safety measures. The disadvantages, such as higher permit costs, can be outweighed by the sense of security and well-established infrastructure. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, while offering a unique adventure and the cheapest permit, may still have some uncertainties related to its political situation. Travelers should carefully assess their risk tolerance and consider their priorities when choosing the destination for gorilla trekking. Ultimately, the choice of destination depends on a traveler’s individual preferences and comfort level, but for those seeking the safest experience, Uganda and Rwanda may be the preferable choices.
Safety Measures in Place to ensure Gorilla trekking is safe
- Well-trained Guides and Rangers
Gorilla trekking is led by experienced guides and park rangers who are well-versed in gorilla behavior and safety measures. Besides guarding and playing a leading role, they use a wide range of tracking expertise to help you locate your Gorilla group in the safest ways possible. When you approach a Gorilla group, it’s the guides and rangers who ensure that your full hour with them is without any hitch. They are able to communicate with the Gorillas to prevent them from becoming aggressive to the visitors. The animals might get agitated by the visitors’ presence and when the guides sense any unusual behavior, they are able to guide visitors on what to do. Another primary risk is encountering wild animals, so following the guide’s instructions is essential for a safe and enjoyable experience.
- Gorilla habituation as a safety measure
Please note that prior to letting a Gorilla group for tracking by tourists, it must have been taken through the habituation process. This two years process prepares the Gorillas for human presence tolerance. That’s why it is possible to observe them for a full hour without being aggressive to the visitors. However, visitors are cautioned against taking the trekking rules lightly. Gorillas are wild animals whose behavior can hardly be predicted regardless of their habituation status.
- Gorilla Trekking dos and don’ts
The Gorilla trekking rules and regulations in place emphasize the safety of the Gorillas and the tourists. A crucial safety briefing before each trek is provided in the morning by the park staff. It emphasizes respectful behavior around the gorillas, the importance of following designated paths and maintaining a safe distance of 7 meters from the gorillas. Adhering to rules that prohibit loud noises and sudden movements ensures a tranquil atmosphere during the trek.
To further ensure safety, guidelines advise trekkers not to run if a gorilla charges; instead, crouch down to appear smaller. Being respectful of the gorillas and their habitat is fundamental, including avoiding flash photography and refraining from making eye contact with the gorillas, especially the silverbacks, as this can be seen as a challenge to their authority.
- Group Size Limitations
National parks that offer gorilla trekking prioritize safety measures by strictly limiting the number of visitors in each trekking group, typically allowing a maximum of 8 individuals. This limitation is crucial to minimize disturbance to the gorillas and maintain a safe environment for both humans and gorillas. In some situations, wearing masks could be mandatory to prevent the transmission of diseases to the gorillas, underscoring the commitment to the well-being of both these magnificent creatures and the trekkers themselves. For the very reasons, Rwanda hiked the Gorilla permit fee to $1500.
- Health Screenings
In light of the ongoing global health concerns, Gorilla parks started implementing health checks and screenings, including temperature checks and hand sanitization, to ensure that visitors are not carrying any contagious diseases that could endanger the gorillas. Remember Mountain Gorillas share 98% of DNA as humans.
- Appropriate trekking gear and safety Equipment
For a safe and enjoyable gorilla trekking experience, trekkers must be well-prepared. The requirements for protective gear can vary depending on the terrain and the particular trekking site. Being ready for any weather condition is crucial since gorilla treks happen regardless of rain or shine. Packing essentials like a raincoat, sunscreen, and a hat is a wise move. Opting for comfortable shoes and clothing ensures maximum comfort and reduce the risk of hiking-related injuries, insect bites, stings, and illnesses. These comprehensive precautions and measures help ensure a secure and memorable gorilla trekking adventure.
- Community Involvement
Gorilla trekking benefits the local communities surrounding the national parks. By fostering a sense of responsibility for the gorillas and their habitats among these communities, visitors indirectly contribute to the safety of the gorillas and themselves. Some percentage of the proceeds from Gorilla tourism is used for the welfare of these communities. Also look at a situation where visitors use porters from the local communities. Hiring Porters enhances the overall tracking experience. They are well-versed with the local terrain through which they can help you to navigate safely.
Additional tips for a safe Gorilla trekking experience
When planning a gorilla trekking tour, it’s crucial to check your physical fitness because gorilla treks can be demanding, especially if you’re not used to hiking in a difficult terrain. Lastly, patience is key. Gorilla treks can span anywhere from a few hours to an entire day. Be ready to navigate through dense forests and wait for the gorillas to be located, as these incredible encounters often require a bit of time and endurance.
In conclusion, gorilla trekking is a safe adventure when conducted under established guidelines and with reputable tour operators. By adhering to these safety measures, you can ensure the well-being of both travelers and the gorillas while fostering a harmonious coexistence vital for conservation efforts. Following the safety guidelines and listening to your guide during the trek is essential to minimize any potential risks and hence an unforgettable experience of observing Mountain Gorillas in the wild.