Is gorilla trekking safe?
Is gorilla trekking safe? : This is always a question on the mind of people that want to do gorilla trekking for the first time but is gorilla trekking really safe?
As gorilla trekking is a big investment by the respective governments, it is a priority to keep trekkers safe during the gorilla trekking experience. During your trek, you’ll notice guides, rangers and police guiding you through the trek. Bwindi National Park in particular has the tourism police escort gorilla trekkers in case they need to get up early for the activity. If you are still wondering, gorilla trekking is safe provided you stay within your lane and are accompanied by an expert.
These include the guides, rangers and expert trekkers. All these people are found at all the gorilla trekking parks and are very useful in the trek. Before the trek, the rangers go out into the park to look for the gorillas before the actual trekking so as to avoid you trekking unnecessary and long distances during the actual trek.
During the trek, they ensure safety of everyone in the group and that of the animals when found. The armed rangers also keep the other wild animals found in the parks at bay once they are trying to be hostile by shooting in the air and by other ways, they are trained in. Because of the safety role they play during the trek, it is by law that all gorilla trekking groups be accompanied by a guide when trekking, it is also important to follow instructions from these people before and during the trek.
Before the trek, you are put into groups of 8 people each and the number of groups depends on the number of gorilla families in the park. For example, there is only one group of 8 people that can trek at Mgahinga National Park per day because the park has one gorilla family. In addition to the 8 trekkers, each group is assigned guides, rangers and expert trekkers to help them during the trek.
Engaging with the gorillas
Part of your safety during gorilla trekking really depends on how you engage with the gorillas once found. It is usually normal to feel fearful when you see the gorillas because of their large stature (silverbacks are up to 6 feet tall and about 400 pounds in weight) yet they are very gentle and not usually at war with anything. However, like humans, they are sensitive to threat and their emotions can also get out of hand when disturbed. When going gorilla trekking, you need to know how to act when engaging with the gorillas putting in mind that they communicate somewhat but not totally like us.
The gorilla’s emotions may get out of hand when you move too fast. This is understandable because the forest is their territory and it’s not in their place to trust human beings first hand. During mountain gorilla trekking, it is important to remember to move slow and just keep it quiet. A guide might make a noise while going closer to the gorillas that these animals interpret as not being in threat.
While interacting and enjoying the gorilla experience, remember they take looking at them in the eye for long as a threat, just like human beings. So interact consciously; look, enjoy the experience and take your gaze off immediately.
In order to prevent disease, you must always keep a distance of 7 metres from the gorillas. This prevents cross infections in two ways; gorilla to human and human to gorilla. It is also important to cough in the arm in case of an urge to cough or sneeze during the trek lest the gorillas catch whatever it is you’re suffering from.
Gorilla trekking is generally (100%) safe and is a very unforgettable experience. Your safety during the trek is on the gorilla trekking team minds even before you book your safari. You just need to follow instructions and you’ll have the very best of it.