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Gorilla Nest Safaris

Is gorilla trekking safe? (Quick answer: yes!)

Gorilla trekking is a safe enterprise, so long as you follow a few basic rules and listen to your trek guide. We introduce you to the safety guidelines for gorilla trekking to give you peace of mind about this extraordinary adventure.

Gorilla trekking is a phenomenal experience that we cannot recommend enough! Especially since it’s actually really safe. Mountain gorillas – though extremely large and powerful – are actually gentle giants. They’re not interested in hurting humans.

Moreover, the troops that folks visit on gorilla treks are habituated, which means they’re used to being around humans.

There are of course some fairly commonsensical rules that you should obey on a gorilla trek to ensure your safety as well as the well-being of the gorillas. And your gorilla trek guide is the person to look to if you’re ever uncertain about what to do (or not do). He or she is there to protect you and knows the visited troop well.

But first, we think you’ll enjoy our video showcasing the mountain gorillas and their beautiful forest habitat …

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS ARE GENTLE GIANTS

Some might understandably have qualms about the mountain gorillas themselves. A silverback can weigh around 150 to 180 kg, after all!

But while mountain gorillas are extremely powerful (especially the fully grown males), they’re quite gentle by nature.

Silverback gorillas are males

Mountain gorillas are even vegetarians (predominantly, at least – sometimes they eat insects). So while gorillas will defend themselves if attacked, they’re not aggressive creatures. And they have no interest in messing with humans.  

YOU VISITED HERBITUATED GORILLAS

Further enhancing everyone’s safety is the fact that the gorilla troops you visit on a trek are habituated. This means they’ve undergone a long process of slowly becoming accustomed to the presence of humans. They’re therefore less likely to become alarmed and agitated by your presence.

YOU TREK WITH A TRAINED GUIDE

Moreover, when you go on a gorilla trek you go in the company of a trained guide. Such men and women know the gorilla troops being visited, and know what can and cannot be done.

It is important to always listen to your ranger and stay with the group while trekking. Listen to what you’re told to do and not do. Poking a silverback’s stomach, for instance, is not allowed. 😉 But if you follow the rules of your trek guide and act with common sense, you’re perfectly safe visiting the gorillas. 

GORILLA TREKKING SAFETY GUIDELINES

Obviously there are rules to follow when observing the gorillas that are geared towards not angering, frightening or in any other way upsetting the gorillas. Here are some simple guidelines to follow when in the presence of mountain gorillas to further ensure everything goes smoothly:

  • Don’t use flash photography, as this could startle them.
  • Only stand as close to the primates as the trek guide says you can (which is usually no closer than three metres).
  • Don’t make sudden movements or loud noises as these could alarm the gorillas.
  • Don’t wear bright or neon colours, and don’t wear strong cologne or perfume.
  • If a gorilla comes close, remain submissive and do not look them in the eye, as this is interpreted as a challenge.

THE FOREST TREK IS SAFE BUT NOT TOUGH

Mountain gorillas live in montane forest, which means you have to walk along forest trails to find them. A gorilla trek is all about seeing these magnificent animals in their natural habitat, after all. 

Every forest trek varies in length and difficulty depending on a few factors, like which park you visit, the weather, and the particular gorilla troop you’ve been assigned (troops’ locations are monitored by park rangers and each trek group is assigned a specific troop to visit).

Generally speaking, visitors can ask to be assigned a troop near or far from the starting point. The less fit, for example, may wish to have shorter hike. Hikes range from about half an hour to three or four hours. There are no overnight hikes.  

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