Safety and security during gorilla trekking in Uganda is one of the major worries for most tourists planning gorilla safaris to Uganda. The question always asked is whether gorilla trekking in Uganda is safe for the tourists from foreign countries. Fortunately, ever since mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park tourists haven’t had any security issues during the activity.
The cost of a Uganda gorilla trekking permit is US$ 700 for foreign residents, US$ 600 for foreign residents and Ugandan Shillings 250,000. With this cost a percentage from each permit cost contributes to the money invested in the protection of mountain gorillas and the tourists who visit either Bwindi forest or Mgahinga for gorilla tours.
The country puts in great effort to ensure that the gorilla trekking trips are safe for all tourists by training several park rangers armed enough to keep the mountain gorilla tourists safe as well as protect the gorillas from poachers.
Government also deploys the military to flush out any rebel elements using the parks as refuge. The threat is especially from the rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo that was previously unstable with guerilla groups.
Border patrols are also done by the army to help monitor any security incidences that could jeopardize the security of tourists.
All the armed personnel providing security to the park are well trained, equipped and motivated to keep the gorilla parks and tourists safe.
Communities living around the parks are fully involved in the security arrangements and are advised to report any suspicious activities that may threaten tourists.
Are Mountain Gorillas Dangerous to People?
Mountain gorillas may be seen as dangerous because of their huge size and strength. However, these are gentle giants that are very peaceful. On top of the fact that mountain gorillas are gentle, they undergo a habituation process that makes them accustomed to the presence of people. Mountain gorilla habituation takes about 2 years as conservationists take time to study a specific wild gorilla group until the group if comfortable with the presence of people. The process is gradual and only until the group is proved to be fully comfortable with human presence and do not find human beings as a threat, then they are opened up for tourism.
Even after habituation, the park rangers visit the mountain gorilla groups each day to monitor the behavior of the gorillas. Surely in case there is any form of danger that a gorilla could pose to the tourists, then the tourists are not led to trek that group.
Silverback mountain gorillas however at times charge towards people, but this only occurs when they feel threaten. The silverback charges as a way of scaring away threat and they do this by making sound and beating their chest. When this happens during a gorilla trekking experience, the guide will give you instructions on what to do to avoid harm. These include crouching down slowly and not looking directly into the gorillas eyes. When you do this, the gorillas will see you as non-threatening and will move away. In extreme cases, the guide will shoot in the air to scare away.
Safety tips for travelers to ensure gorilla trekking in Uganda is safe
For each tourist visiting Uganda for gorilla trekking, these tips are helpful in ensuring that you have a safe trekking experience;
Book with a credible gorilla safari company: When planning to go gorilla trekking do all your bookings with a credible gorilla safari company. Gorilla Cousins Rwanda has over a 10 years’ experience in tailoring Uganda gorilla safaris as well as Rwanda gorilla tours and therefore trustable. This will help you be sure that you are paying your gorilla permit fee to the right channel and are assured of getting it. The tour company will also help you book accommodation and give guidelines of where to make purchases and protect you from petty theft.
Follow all gorilla trekking rules and regulations: Gorilla trekking in Uganda comes with set guidelines that each tourist is expected to follow. Some of the rules to protect tourists from danger include not touching the gorillas and keeping a 7 meter distance from the gorillas. Even with the fact that the mountain gorillas are habituated to human presence, it is also good to always remember that these are still wild animals and should better be treated as so.
Generally Uganda is safe to visit and gorilla trekking is surely safe to undertake. For a gorilla tour that is memorable, choose to have trips that are not done under pressure for instance the 3 days Uganda gorilla safari or tours that have more days and are combined with other wildlife safaris in Uganda. Beyond Uganda and Rwanda gorilla trekking, the Kenya safaris and Tanzania wildlife safaris offer great African safari experiences.