Gorilla Trekking Age Restriction
Gorilla trekking age Restriction is a set age that travellers below which do not get to take part in gorilla trekking. Gorilla trekking is an activity that involves hiking deep into the rainforests in search of the gorillas. Mountain gorillas live in lush rainforests that are mountainous in nature, and can only be found in three countries all over the world. Mountain gorillas can be found in the Virunga Massif area that encompasses Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park of Uganda that inhabits more than half of the world gorilla population with the rest being shared amongst the three parks in the Virunga Conservation Area.
Mountain gorillas are an endangered primate specie that were up until 2018 considered critically endangered. There are currently about 1063 mountain gorillas in the world and are distributed amongst the Virunga Conservation Area and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which number grew only because of the great conservation efforts by the governing bodies of the gorilla parks and other gorilla conservation organisations like Gorilla Doctors, the Dian Fossey foundation, among others. The Uganda Wildlife Authority, Rwanda Development Board and the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature for the countries of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have played great roes in the protection and conservation of the mountain gorillas that have seen the number of mountain gorillas growing. They have among others set up rules and guidelines to regulate the protected areas as tourists visit.
One of the many rules and guidelines set is that that states that persons below the age of 15 cannot take part in gorilla trekking. Putting in place a gorilla trekking age restriction was very important for the following reason;
- Mountain gorillas have a 98% DNA that they share with humans. This makes them susceptible to all human diseases including childhood killer diseases like measles. To protect the gorillas from such therefore, a gorilla trekking age restriction was put in place that saw children below 15 years being exempted from gorilla trekking. With the gorilla trekking age restriction in place, the gorillas have been safe from contracting such illnesses, and has given a rise in the gorilla population. This is evident with the 2018 gorilla census that saw gorillas in the Virunga Conservation Area growing from 480 to 604 while in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park alone, the gorilla population increased from 400 to 459.
- The gorilla trekking age restriction was put in place to also protect the children below the age of 15 from getting hurt whilst gorilla trekking. Children below 15 years are unpredictable in nature and behaviour. Their reaction upon encountering mountain gorillas is unpredictable, they might scream out of fright or delight and consequently discomforting the gorillas that could end up charging at them and thus getting hurt. The children could also make noises, as well as gestures that could be wrongly interpreted by the gorillas since they too have their own vocalisations.
- Also, the gorilla trekking activity can sometimes be very strenuous. Given the terrain and lush rainforest nature of these gorilla destinations, hiking them in search of the gorillas is very hard on even the adults. Children below the age of 15 cannot manage such extent of strain and thus to protect them, a gorilla trekking age restriction was put in place.
There have however been instances when children slightly below the age of 15 are allowed to trek. This is a very rear occurrence and for one to be granted a gorilla trekking opportunity, parents or legal guardians of the child in question are required to prove that their children can actually manage the trek and is almost 15 years of age. They are also supposed to sign a disclaimer that should anything happen to the child during the trek or fails to complete the trek, the park officials are not held liable. If your child is given an opportunity to trek gorillas despite the gorilla trekking age restriction, you may choose to hire for them porters to help them during the trek, or also sedan chairs or bamboo stretchers that can be used to carry the child all throughout the trek. Make sure to book these way in advance since they are very few and in high demand by even the elderly and those with limited mobility.
Gorilla trekking age restriction does not in any way apply to the elderly. For as long as one is above the age of 15, they can take part in this very thrilling gorilla trekking adventure. Senior citizens of up to 99 years have been able to take part in gorilla trekking, say the 100 years old General Charles Njonjo, the former Attorney General of Kenya who successfully trekked gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
For one to be able to take part in gorilla trekking, including a child who has been granted permission to track gorillas despite the gorilla trekking age restriction, a gorilla trekking permit is required. Gorilla trekking permits can be purchased from respective country tourism authorities or through trusted tour operators. A single entry gorilla permit in the Congo costs $400, while in Rwanda it is $1500 and in Uganda, it is at $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents and ugx250,000 for East African citizens. Gorilla trekking permits must be booked way in advance to secure your dates given they are very few and yet many travellers are after gorilla trekking. Reach out to a trusted tour operator to help you plan the best gorilla trekking adventure.