Is it safe to trek Gorillas in Rwanda?
Rwanda as a country is generally considered to be one of the safest countries not only on the African continent but the world as large. All its tourist destinations including the Volcanoes National Park best known for its guided Rwanda gorilla treks which is one the only three (3) natural habitats for mountain gorillas have noticeable police and other security personnel presence to guarantee safety of the visitors as well as the wildlife. All gorilla tours are led and guided by park rangers to further guarantee the guest safety.
Today Rwanda is the most luxurious gorilla destination with a trekking permit costing $1,500 compared to Uganda where it costs $700. It has lavish lodges where the safety and wellbeing of its guests during their stay in Rwanda is their priority. In fact it is worth mentioning that the republic of Rwanda has made several efforts to ensure that it boosts its security system to uphold the safety of its citizens as well as its neighbors.
To date, no security incidences related to gorilla trekking have been recorded in the Volcanoes National Park where gorilla trekking is conducted and this is because the destination has continued to be a safe for the trekkers and the resident gorillas. all persons entering this gorilla sanctuary are required to be in the company of an expert and just as it is with other gorilla Destinations – Uganda and the D.R. Congo, you will be escorted by armed security personnel working under the park’s authority.
With the currently ruling straight forwards and no nonsense President – HE Paul Kagame who aim is not only to unify the people of Rwanda, but also establish a very safe and secure country, you will agree with me that this is among the safest destinations in Africa, and this can be well portrayed by the sound presence of armed ranger guides, police and military in the national parks and across the country at large.
Have there been any security challenges in Rwanda?
It would be a total lie if I mention that Rwanda’s security has not faced any challenge since the country opened its doors of Volcanoes National Park for gorilla trekking tours. for a number of times, the peace and serenity of Rwanda’s tourism sector has been challenged by mainly foreign ‘rebel’ forces like the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) – FDLR an active rebel group based in the eastern part of the D. R Congo that opposes the current Paul Kagame ruling regime. This group of ‘hutu’ Rwanda nationals that in fact participated in the deadly 1994 Rwanda Genocide ‘civil war’ that saw thousands and thousands of innocent people die fled into the D.R Congo at the end of that uprising. These over the past years continued to put up threats against the country in a bid to over throw it however, all these efforts have been successfully warden off by the Rwandan security forces upholding it as a safe tourism destination even for Rwanda Gorilla Tours.
The 4th October, 2019 FDLR Attack in Kinigi Area
On the fateful night of 4th October 2019, a group of the rebellious FDLR rebel group armed with machetes, pistols and rifles, made an attack in Kinigi area found in northern Rwanda within Musanze District close to Volcanoes National Park – home of the mountain gorillas. These unfortunately killed 14 and wounded 18 locals without harming any tourists. The Rwandan security forces on the other hand managed to disperse the group back to their hiding hole fleeing through the national park; killing 19 rebels and capture 5 with the later testifying that they belonged to FDLR. Fortunately, although a few other less severe attacks have happened in Rwanda before including close to Nyungwe National park, no tourists or their accommodations have been attacked.
The Question remains, ‘Is it safe to Trek Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park- Rwanda’?
Well as earlier pointed out, the government of Rwanda has put in place all necessary measures including increasing military presence across the country especially in its tourist destinations to safeguards its residents as well as its visiting tourists. Basing on the good security record of Rwanda, Several foreign governments have recommended Rwanda as a safe travel destination without raising any security or Travel Alerts. It’s for that reason that we conclude that Gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcano National Park is safe and should be enjoyed by any holidaymaker who wishes to see the endangered mountain Gorillas.