How safe is gorilla tracking in Rwanda? One question that still leaves many visitors wondering is “is gorilla trekking in Rwanda safe?” Yes, gorilla trekking in Rwanda – the Land of a Thousand Hills is safe and secure. Safety of visitors and that of mountain gorillas are the main areas of concern when it comes to gorilla safaris.
Interestingly, safety on gorilla tracking in Rwanda is key not only for tourists but also to these great apes hence a major area of priority for Rwanda Development Board (RDB). There are strictly 3 places to visit for gorilla trekking – Rwanda, Uganda and Congo. For almost 3 decades now, Rwanda remains a peaceful and secure destination for gorilla trekking and also other Rwanda safaris – wildlife tours, cultural safaris, etc.
How to be safe during gorilla trekking in Rwanda?
- Observe gorilla trekking rules or measures/guidelines
Before you are allowed to go visit a gorilla family in Volcanoes National Park, briefing about rules and regulations for gorilla trekking will be conducted at Kinigi. Failure to observe the set safety measures/rules comes with its own costs and good enough, the park guide accompanying you will always remind you of some important rules.
- Dress well
Dress well for your gorilla trekking adventure – visiting gorillas isn’t an ordinary activity, you will engage in a trek via the jungles. This is why you need environmentally blending clothes and avoid shouting colors that can scare off or make gorillas charge at you. Also, consider carrying waterproof hiking boots because you will conquer the high hills/steep slopes and perhaps muddy ground depending on the season.
For safety from insects, don’t forget carrying insect repellents, pair of socks, long sleeved shirts, etc. To protect yourself from sun heat, consider packing sunglasses and in case it rains, a rain jacket is key.
- Keep within your trekking group
While in the jungles, there are chances that you may get lost if you break away from your group that you are tracking mountain gorillas with. The park will lead you but you are advised not to get out of the group as it is risky in case you bump into dangerous animals and no one to help.
Gorilla Watching Rules
There are safety rules and guidelines for gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. The rules for gorilla tracking are designed primarily to ensure safety of mountain gorillas and also visitors. Observing the stipulated rules and regulations for gorilla tracking is a must-do for everyone visiting Volcanoes National Park for mountain gorilla encounter.
Safety rules to follow before visiting gorillas
- Wash your hands thoroughly- before you begin your search for mountain gorilla families, your hands must be clean. You can clean your hands with water and soap. You can make the best use of available water at the park offices.
- 8 visitors per gorilla family- during the briefing for gorilla trekking rules, visitors are allocated to one habituated gorilla family. A normal day visit to see gorillas is done by maximum of 8 visitors per day. This standard safety measures plays a great part in minimizing behavioral disturbance on gorilla habitat and also making these endangered apes, exposed to infectious human diseases.
- A park guide is assigned to every gorilla family- all gorilla treks are led by an armed park guide. The guides are well trained, experienced, and knowledgeable of how they locate gorilla families in the forest.
- When you approach a gorilla family, your cameras should be set for action. The park guide will remind you to turn off the flashlight to avoid scaring mountain gorillas.
- While navigating through the forest to see gorillas, your voices must be kept low. This won’t only let you have concentration on your trek, but also allows you keep an eye on numerous bird species. Volcanoes National Park is home to not only gorillas, but also over 200 bird species and there are majority of forest and Albertine rift endemic species.
When you visit mountain gorillas
- Rubbish shouldn’t be left in the forest. Keep containers or any rubbish and bring it back to designated dustbins. There are containers where rubbish can be thrown at the park offices or at the lodge.
- To have an in-depth learning about mountain gorillas, don’t make noise. Your concentration should be asking your park guide more questions about gorillas, their behaviors, etc.
- A distance of 7-10m is a must to observe when you come across mountain gorillas. This is a special safety measure aimed at minimizing spread of infectious human diseases.
- Keep within your gorilla trekking group you came with. 8 guests visit one habituated gorilla family, and this being an adventure conducted in the jungles, always keep within your group members. Failure to observe this rule comes with its own consequences, including getting lost in the forest and as a result, you may encounter wild gorillas or other dangerous animals.
- Drinking, smoking and eating is prohibited while in the presence of gorillas.
- At times, there are gorillas that charge against visitors or get irritated by human presence. If you encounter such incidence, you must observe your park guide’s instructions.
- Taking pictures of mountain gorillas is allowed, but cameras should be free of flashlight or turn it off.
- Maximum of one hour is allowed for all guests to spend face-to-face with gorillas in the wild. It is during the same hour when you also get time to take pictures, explore more about their daily behaviors, body gestures, etc.
- No tracking gorillas if you are sick or ill. Mountain gorillas share so much with humans, about 98% of these apes DNA is same as that of man, making them our closest relatives and also susceptible to human infectious diseases.