Minimum Age limit for gorilla trekking in Africa
Minimum Age limit for gorilla trekking in Africa : Gorilla trekking in Africa is one of the most very popular wildlife tourism activity done and Mountain gorilla trekking is even more popular most interesting experience only possible in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. As more and more people get to know about the activity, the number of travelers travelling to the three countries increase each year making gorilla trekking permits extremely difficult specially during the peak months of the year although there is no longer such of gorilla trekking as the mountain gorillas can be seen at any time of the year. Those who are planning for gorilla often wonder if there is an age limit for gorilla trekking especially when intending to travel with minors.
Why is the age limit of gorilla trekking is set at 15 years?
Yes, there is an age limit for gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo of 15 years and above. The age limit for gorilla trekking is set by the different government authorities responsible for managing the national parks. In Uganda for Uganda Safaris, it is the Uganda Wildlife Authority while in Rwanda, it is the Rwanda the Rwanda Development Board and in Congo, it’s the Virunga National park authorities
The age limit for gorilla trekking is set at 15 because younger travelers are considered to be children who may not be able to follow the guideline of gorilla trekking along with dealing with the negative reactions from the gorillas. Gorillas are very calm and gentile creatures but they can become aggressive when they feel threatened or misinterpret the actions of trackers. Children may not stay calm or lay low when a mighty silverback approaches them or appears aggressive. Screaming or running away could force the gorilla to run after the youngster. The only way to contain an aggressive gorilla is to act submissive and lay low. Mature travelers are better at controlling their emotions in the event that a gorilla charges.
Mature travellers are less likely to get carried away. They are more likely to follow the provided gorilla trekking rules and regulations or instructions from the park rangers than younger trekkers. The gorilla trekking rules include not littering the park, keeping a distance of at least 7 meters from the nearest gorilla and not mocking or making fun of the gorillas.
Children below 15 years of age are believed not to be mentally ready for the activity. By the time an adult decides to go for gorilla trekking, they know what they are getting into. Children tend to go for safaris only to accompany their parents. They may not be as excited about the trip as their parents. Completing gorilla trekking requires determination especially if it involves following a gorilla group that is far away from the starting point. Mountain gorillas keep moving from place to say and sometimes they go up high in the mountains, and with this, children may not be able to handle walking long distances.
Young children may not be fit enough to complete gorilla trekking. They could slow down the tracking group or request to get back to camp before completing the trek because they feel tired or bored. Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Mgahinga national park are found in areas of high altitude and finding the gorilla group may involve hiking up mountainous and steep areas with prolonged exposure to sunlight. Children may struggle with these kinds of conditions and fail to complete the activity. Older hikers tend to be fitter and possess the kind of endurance and determination required to complete the activity.
Young children tend to get easily infected with communicable diseases like cough and flu (running noses). Mountain gorillas are very prone to human diseases given that they have a 98% DNA with humans. If they get infected with a flu, the results can be deadly.
Under what circumstances can children below 15 years be allowed to track mountain gorillas?
There are some occasions where children below the age limit of 15 year can be allowed to track mountain gorillas. Some parents usually plan their safaris with children and may be disappointed that they cannot go trekking gorillas with their children whom you believe to be mature enough although they are not yet 15 years old. Do not despair because an exception can be made for a 14-year-old child who is making 15 in the year of trekking. This exception is only possible in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The child must be physically fit and mature enough. Bwindi Impenetrable forest is less steep compared to Mgahinga forest and the Volcanoes National Park. Bwindi forest also has more forest covers which help shield trackers from the sun.
In order to qualify for this exception, parents may be required to provide pictures of the child to the Uganda Wildlife Authority with information about their physical fitness and maturity. The child must be about to make 15 years (14 years). To prove that the child is 14 and approaching 15, a passport copy will be required as well as current photos.
A child below 15 years of age may also be allowed to do gorilla trekking if they are accompanied by parents. The Uganda Wildlife Authority will require that the parent signs a consent/indemnity form to protect the organization from responsibility in case of any misfortune during gorilla trekking. The Park Warden will ensure that the child is an allocated a gorilla group which is closest to the starting point. As a parent, you can make everything smooth for the child by hiring extra porters to carry them in Sedan chair whenever they get tired. Porters and Sedan chairs are also recommended for elderly trackers. If you are planning to do gorilla trekking with a child who is mature and physically fit but is less than 15 years of age, contact us at and we will advise.
What to do if your child is too young for gorilla trekking?
You can still travel with children who are as young as 13 years and below on a safari. There are lots of interesting activities that they can take part in while you go out to search for the gorillas. Hotel staff can stay with them in the hotel and keep them engaged with games and children’s movies. They can also be taken for nature walks, cultural visit or touring nearly local schools. You can also reschedule your trip so that you come when the children are of age.
Additional Information about eligibility for gorilla trekking
Anyone above 15 years can track mountain gorillas. There is no maximum age limit for gorilla trekking.
All trackers are briefed before gorilla trekking and are expected to follow all the rules provided while gorilla trekking.
The Wildlife Authorities in the three countries will require that you send a copy of your passport before issuing out the gorilla permit. Even if you manage to get a gorilla permit without the passport, you will still be required to show it at the briefing point for gorilla trekking. The passport helps the park authorities know if you are eligible to take part in the activity.