Safest Places to see Mountain Gorillas in Africa – Which is the best country to see mountain Gorillas in Africa? – Uganda or Rwanda?
Safest places to see mountain gorillas in Africa -A Gorilla permit costs USD700 in Uganda and USD1500 in Rwanda. Many tourists track Mountain Gorillas in these countries each day. The total amount collected is quite considerable for developing countries. To protect this important source of foreign exchange, the countries are willing to go to great lengths to protect the primates and tourists that come to see them. Gorilla conservations have been initiated to protect these gentle giants using some of the money collected from tourists.
All National Parks employ armed park rangers to enforce the law and look out for poachers. The government also deploys the military to flush out any rebel elements using the parks as a refuge. Border patrols by the army help monitor any security incidences that could jeopardize the security of tourists.
Mountain Gorillas are very calm and peaceful apes considering their size and strength. They are often referred to as “the gentle giants of the forest”. You will be visiting habituated Gorilla families. Habituated Gorilla families are those that are used to humans being around them a process that takes about 2 years. But like any other wild animal, care must be taken and rules followed during Gorilla walks.
Regarding the security and safety in the Gorilla tracking countries, Great Adventure Safaris would like to start by saying that the people of Uganda and Rwanda are extremely friendly, kind, and open to foreign visitors. Uganda and Rwanda are generally peaceful and secure countries but like any other country, one should exercise caution while in large cities. There is a real threat of pickpockets in large cities. Uganda’s tourism industry was negatively affected by the Kony rebellion in the northern part of the country about 10 years ago but peace has now been fully restored and the rebels have long been flushed out.
Uganda Gorilla Tracking Safety
Uganda is one of the safest places to see mountain gorillas in Africa and has the highest number of Mountain Gorillas in Africa. They can be seen in two national parks Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks. Uganda is also a relatively more affordable Gorilla tracking destination than Rwanda. For over 20 years, there has been no security incidence in Bwindi Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks.
The government has a standby military base within the National Parks working with armed rangers and the tourism police. All these armed personnel is well trained, equipped, and motivated to keep the National Parks and tourists safe. Border patrols are secretly done by the Uganda Peoples Defence forces to ensure that no rebel elements take cover in the forests from neighboring countries. The communities living close to the National Parks are involved in all security arrangements. Because they benefit from tourism, they will report any suspicious activities that could threaten travelers.
Rwanda Gorilla Tracking Safety
Rwanda is one of the East African countries considered to be the safest country in the world. The chances of being mugged or stolen in Rwanda may be lower than in your own country. Security is tight in Rwanda and police can be seen almost everywhere. Security in the national parks is equally tight and there are almost no cases of poaching in Rwanda today. Rebel elements from neighboring countries have no chance in the Volcanoes National Park given the heavy military and police presence. How about you the tourists? All tourists are escorted by armed rangers while tracking the Mountain Gorillas.
Gorilla tracking safety tips
- Book with a good tour operator:
Before booking your Gorilla tour, ensure that your tour operator is genuine. The tour company must be registered and should have been used by other clients in the past. When you are about to make any payments, find out if they have a company bank account or an online payment system that can only be granted to genuine companies. Never send money to individual accounts.
- Follow the Mountain Gorilla trekking Rules:
Mountain Gorillas are very calm and peaceful unless threatened. Avoid irritating by keeping a distance of about 7 meters even when they approach you. Always stick with your group led by a park ranger guide. Moving out of the group without a ranger could put you in danger. If you leave the group, you will be exposed to an unfamiliar environment and possibly meet wild animals. The armed rangers know how to scare away any wild animal by air shooting.
Do not look at Mountain Gorillas directly in the eyes to avoid coming off as a threat. Mountain Gorillas are shy primates and looking at them in the eyes for too long may be mistaken for a challenge. Speak in low tones and remain calm even when they charge at you. Simply lay low and act submissive. Shouting and loud noises may drive the Mountain Gorillas away or begin to see you as a threat. Do not surround the Mountain Gorilla family while in their midst. Allow them space to move around. As tempting as it is, do not touch a baby Gorilla. The silverback could come for you assuming that you want to harm his offspring.
- Dress correctly to limit injury:
You also need to plan what to wear while tracking the Mountain Gorillas in the African jungle. Pack sturdy hiking boots to deal with the unpredictable and slippery terrain. Long-sleeved shirts and long trousers will protect you from insects and sharp tree branches. Sunscreen, Sunglasses, and a hat are excellent for protecting you against the sun. To protect yourself from the rains, pack a warm sweater and rain jacket.