Can Children Go Gorilla Trekking?
Can Children Go Gorilla Trekking? Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda has lately become a concern for families interested in this wonderful adventure while having children that are below the age 15. Therefore, the big questions always are; will our children be allowed to trek gorillas? What is the minimum age for Gorilla trekking? To begin with, the minimum age for gorilla trekking n Uganda and Rwanda is 15 years.
This age restriction is in place due to a number of important factors;
1. Your children might find it challenging to remain calm if a giant gorilla mock charges during a trekking expedition.
Although wild mountain gorillas rarely charge, it can happen if they perceive anyone in the trekking group as a danger or threat. However, a knowledgeable and calm ranger guide can often deter a charging mountain gorilla. Unluckily, a child may become frightened, scream, or be inclined to run when faced with the intimidating bark of a 220-kilogram silverback gorilla. In such situations, a charging gorilla will typically give chase to a running visitor.
2. Children also pose health risks during gorilla trekking
During gorilla trekking, children also pose health risks during gorillas. This is because their developing immune systems make them more susceptible to contagious diseases like flu. As these diseases can easily be transmitted to highly endangered mountain gorillas, the consequences can be severe and potentially fatal.
3. Children's limited stamina could make it difficult for them to complete the entire trek
This is particularly relevant in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, where gorilla trekking adventure involves traversing steep forested mountain slopes and demanding terrain. The gorilla trekking activity needs a certain level of fitness and determination, which adult travellers are more likely to possess. Adults are usually better prepared to handle challenges like insects, thick forests, muddy trails, and steep inclines.
4. Children are also less likely to follow gorilla trekking rules
The rules and regulations for trekking gorillas are meant to protect the primates and trackers. These include keeping a distance of at least 7 meters, following instructions from the park guides, not littering the park, talking in low tones, not looking directly in the eyes of a gorilla, etc…
How to do Gorilla trekking with Children?
Despite the age restrictions for gorilla trekking, it is still possible for children below 15 years to do Gorilla trekking, but only in Uganda!
Trekking gorillas in Rwanda is strictly restricted to 15 years and above. This is mainly because of the mountainous terrain of Volcanoes National Park which makes it very difficult for the young ones to undertake the gorilla trek because the trek is ascending right from the start. If you are planning a Rwanda safari with youngsters, we advise that you book your stay at a lodge that offers child-minding services, special programs for kids, or even safe and child-friendly forest walks.
Children under 15 years can do gorilla trekking in Uganda in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park because the landscape is different here. Yes, it can be steep, but this is a forested area with vegetation cover so you are less exposed to sunshine. And it is more of a forested jungle than a mountainous terrain!
The parents of the children aiming to do the gorilla trek will need to do is write a letter to the Uganda Wildlife Authority with information (age and photos) about the kid. The parent will then be required to sign an indemnity form by the park warden in Bwindi so that in case the child fails to make it through the trek, you will not hold it against them.
But they will always try to allocate them the gorilla family that is known to be closer so there has not been a case where they failed to make it! If you have a child who is 14 years and are planning to take him/her for gorilla trekking, please contact us at info.tulambule.com. We will help you get special authorization for the child.
The other way a younger star can do gorilla trekking in Uganda is by hiring porters who will carry them through the trek and this is the easiest way for kids to do Gorilla trekking. If interested in the walk itself, the child can walk one way and experience how it feels penetrating the impenetrable forest!
In case a child is clearly too young for gorilla trekking in Uganda, you can still travel with them (especially if you are also booked for other Uganda safari activities). As you go for gorilla trekking, hotel staff can take care of the kids and ensure that they are engaged when you are out in the forest. There are a variety of activities children can get involved in as their parents go out for gorilla trekking. The hotel staff or company Guide can take them for nature walks, visiting the nearby local schools or attending traditional dance performances.
Other Gorilla Trekking Rules You Need To Know
There are several other strict rules and regulations set for gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda. These rules are essential to protect the endangered mountain gorillas, the trackers and guides, as well as trekking tourists. Gorillas will be stressed if there are too many tour or if visitors behave inappropriately. These gorilla trekking rules include the following:
1. Feeling Sick?
If you show any sign of sickness on the day of your gorilla trek, kindly let your guide or the park staff know. They may decide to stop you from trekking on that day. Exposing mountain gorillas to disease may be disastrous for the entire population. Also, if you’re in the company of gorillas and need to cough or sneeze please look away and cover your face with a cloth.
2. Your Group Size And Frequency
Each mountain gorilla family group in Uganda and Rwanda is visited only once a day. The trekking group p size is limited to a maximum of 8 tourists. And your interaction with the gorillas is limited to a maximum of one hour.
3. Photographing Gorillas
Flash photography is not permitted when you are taking gorilla photos. The flash may frighten the gorillas or provoke an aggressive reaction from them.
4. Minimum Distance
Visit must maintain a minimum of 7 metres from the gorillas. Gorillas may approach you, in which case you should retreat slowly if you can.
5. Stay Together In A Group
Ensure you remain in a tight group – to make it easier for your trekking guides to manage the situation. This will also prevent the gorillas from feeling threatened.
6. Your Behaviour While With Gorillas
Remain seated or crouching and keep your arms at your side when spending time with gorillas. Keep quiet – even when filming a selfie. Shouting, standing or gesturing with your arms may be perceived as a threat by gorillas.
Silverback gorillas (adult male gorillas) have been known to beat their chests, roar and even charge at visitors. If this happens, remain calm, seated and avoid eye contact with the gorilla. These threat displays look and sound scary but the gorillas soon calm down and go about their business without harming anyone.
7. Eating, Drinking & Smoking
No drinking, eating or smoking is allowed anywhere near mountain gorillas. This may attract gorilla’s attention, leading to unwelcome close encounters. Your food may also be bad for the health of the endangered gorillas.
8. Toilet Activities
You are advised to go to the bathroom before you set out on a gorilla trek. If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, you will need to dig a deep hole of about 30cm to bury your faeces and fill the hole up afterwards. Your guides will lend you a machete for this purpose but you will need to bring your own toilet paper.
Please keep all of your garbage in your backpack and deposit it back at the park headquarters or your lodge after the trek.
Planning A Family Holiday Wishing To Do Gorilla Trekking With Kids In Uganda?
Contact us today and we will set you up for an unforgettable experience.