Gorilla trekking guide

Minimum Age For Gorilla Trekking in Africa

Gorilla trekking is one of the most exhilarating tourism activities in Africa. The minimum age for gorilla trekking in Africa is one of the concerns for all travellers coming to visit the endangered primates in their natural habitats. The experience involves trailing on steep walk paths in the forest in search of the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural setting. The mountain gorillas are rare species whose tracking is only done in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. The fact that gorilla trekking is a nature-based venture, some standard operating procedures have been put in place to ensure that the fragile land does not get degraded and suppressed so much. One of the regulations is the minimum age for gorilla safaris and the three gorilla destination countries are stringent about it.

Age Limit for gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo
Gorilla trekking age limitThe minimum age for gorilla tracking across the various gorilla tourism destinations is 15 years. Below that you are not allowed to engage in the activity. However, persons between 14 and 13 years may be allowed to track the gorillas in Uganda after a concession between the parents and the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Note that the gorilla tracking activity in the three countries is run by different Authorities, for example in Uganda, the Uganda Wildlife Authority is responsible and in Rwanda, the Rwanda Development Board and in Congo, the Virunga Foundation. They may have some similar gorilla tracking rules and regulations but each body is independent of the other. This is why you may be allowed to go gorilla trekking in Uganda when you are slightly below 15 years but barred in Rwanda or Congo.

Why Minimum age of gorilla tracking is at 15 years?
There are a handful of reasons why persons under the age of 15 years are restricted from gorilla tracking expeditions.
Fast forward, persons under 15 years are considered infants who are reckless and clumsy thus they cannot abide by the gorilla trekking rules such as restraining themselves from making unnecessary noise and movements and the 10-metre gap.

Infants are natural timid beings who can easily get scared of the monstrous appearance of the gorillas. These apes are giants and hideous. it is believed when a child under the age of 15 years encounters such a creature, they are highly likely to get scared, scream and run away which could cause chaos in the jungle. with such a reaction, the gorillas could take them for an enemy and retaliate by charging toward them.

Gorilla Tracking is an extensive activity that require trekking for long hours and distances. It is a venture of exploration, observation, learning and discovery. It does not simply appeal to the infants.They can easily get bored even before they meet the gorillas due to the long hours of trekking involved in it. Patience and mental preparedness are called for to have a productive experience. Furthermore, gorilla trekking needs physical fitness and infants are considered weak. You need grit and energy to trek on the steep slopes trails for long distances and hours in search of the gorillas.

Children are popular carriers of contagious diseases like flu, cough and cold. the gorillas are susceptible to such bugs since they have the same immune systems as human beings. They can greatly be affected by contagious diseases yet they are vulnerable animals that cannot let anyone know that they are ailing.
The flu, cough and cold are very harmful bugs to the gorillas that can easily kill them.

Instances under which children may be permitted to track gorillas
Who is eligible for gorilla trekkingAs earlier stipulated, there are some circumstances where a person slightly below 15 years can be allowed to trek the gorillas in Uganda. However, this person has to go through a lot of scrutiny and for any danger that would happen to the individual, the Uganda wildlife Authority wouldn’t be liable. Gorilla trekking for such kinds of persons is normally allowed in Bwindi impenetrable national park where the terrain of the forest is not so steep as in any other gorilla habitat. The steepness of Bwindi is mild and can be manoeuvred by persons of 14-13 years.

In instances where children are permitted to go gorilla tracking, they must do it with parents or guardians. The parents are required to sign a document of consent from Uganda Wildlife Authority that they are liable for any danger that may happen to their children. The parents are also requested to send the picture of the children so that Uganda wildlife Authority can ascertain their physical conditions if they can be able to walk for such a long distance to track the gorillas. A passport copy must also be sent to know whether the children are 14-13 years.

When all goes on well and the child is permitted to go gorilla trekking. The park patron will be tasked to find an easy gorilla group to trek which is closer to the starting point. Sometimes the parent is advised to hire a sedan chair with extra porters to carry the child in case he/she gets tired along the way.

What to do if your child is not eligible for gorilla tracking?
Age limit for gorilla trekkingEven if the children are deemed not fit to engage in a gorilla trekking experience (persons below 13 years), they can go for a gorilla trekking safari. Extra activities are carried out within and around the park that have no age limit for example nature guided walks and community tours of visiting villages and schools. The children can also remain at the safari lodge to relax and enjoy the tranquillity and treatment. Some lodges have screens that show some interesting movies for children.

Additional Information about eligibility for gorilla trekking
Persons 15 years and above are permitted to go gorilla trekking. There is no maximum age limit for the activity. There are arrangements made for elderly or senior people to trek the gorillas. Sedan chairs or stretchers are hired for them to be able to trek the gorillas. And most of the time, the seniors are allocated to the gorilla groups closer to the starting point.
The organisations responsible for managing the gorilla trekking destinations in the three countries always request passport copies for persons wishing to take part in the experience. This is done to know the age of the visitor to identify whether he/she is eligible to track the gorillas or needs special treatment during the experience.

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