Getting to know about safety and security of the destination before traveling is incredibly the most crucial factor in travel today. When it comes to mountain gorilla adventures, two important questions need to be addressed. Firstly, how safe is the destination itself and secondly how safe is it to encounter the rare mountain gorillas while in their natural habitat. Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are exceptionally the only 3 destinations in the entire world where these Great Apes are found. Considering safety and security in the destinations, Uganda and Rwanda are safe for this lifetime experience, given the prevailing peace and stability that they have enjoyed compared to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which is still recovering from political instabilities.
However, park officials are conscientious and always on any dangers like human guerillas in the national parks as there are other security organ as well like the UN Peace keepers who are on search for the guerrillas. On the other hand, the park guides and tour operators are always informed about insecurities and in case of any security concern, visitors will be updated about it including all the wildlife authorities in (Uganda-Uganda Wildlife Authority; in Rwanda-the Rwandan Office for Tourism and National Park; and the Institut Congolais pour le Conservation de la Nature for DRC) and police departments are updated as soon as any danger a rises. Note that there are no guerrillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park southwest of Uganda and the Volcanoes National Park in Northwest of Rwanda and this makes them the safest destinations for gorilla trekking. Safety and security is Uganda’s and Rwanda’s main concern!
Compared to the rest of wildlife safaris in Africa, gorilla trekking is undoubtedly one of a few adventures in the world that allow tourists to have a close encounter with the Apes while in their natural environment. First and foremost, before visitors are set off to the forest to search for the group of these impressive wild creatures, they are briefed on safety precautions which include the rules and the regulations for gorilla trekking, code of conduct while with the group of these Great Apes. This can reduce panic and nervousness in you and prepare you for the magical encounters with these dramatic apes with out being frightened. These lifetime adventures are usually accompanied by one well trained and experienced park ranger with AK 47 gun to ensure visitor safety while in the thick forest tracking the mountain gorillas. During the briefing, tourists are grouped into eight people per group and each group is assigned a park ranger guide. The mountain gorillas are not all that dangerous but like any wild animal, if they are irritated, they can charge against such behavior.
For this lifetime adventure, the park ranger will keep reminding you to maintain a distance of 7 meters from the apes, not to eat, smoke or drink while with the mountain gorillas, do not litter the habitat, avoid body contact with the Great apes, do not use flashlight cameras while taking photo, if your camera has a flashlight camera you are advised to turn it off. This is because these endangered apes are so sensitive and they can charge against you. Also you will be reminded to you’re your voices low while in the forest tracking the gorillas. The above rules are a must to be observed and if they are well observed, higher chances are there will be less or no hostile behaviors that you will encounter with these Great Apes. Mountain gorillas are humble, gentle and intelligent and for visitor experience, only habituated families are tracked every day which means that they are used to human presence unlike those that have not been habituated. The process of habituation takes about 2 years for the mountain gorillas to get used to human presence in the wild and after, it will be opened for tourists.
In conclusion, if you are planning your next safari to Africa, mountain gorilla trekking should be one of a must to do adventure in Uganda, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Gorilla trekking is safe if you follow the rules and regulations and you are you are encouraged to always check out for security alerts before traveling to a destination of your choice.