What is the Age Limit For Gorilla Trekking? – Rwanda, Uganda & Congo Gorilla Tours
Gorilla trekking is the most sought after adventure in Africa and it rewards visitors with life time experiences. For unforgettable gorilla safaris, Uganda, Rwanda and Congo feature as the only three options in the entire world for you to spark imaginations with these remarkable primates in their natural habitats. Mountain gorilla adventures are such memorable but most trekkers have been left out pondering about the minimum age for gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Age limit is important for this life changing experience just like any other adventure. Certain things are done by a certain class of people which is why children are denied the opportunity to go for gorilla trekking. The reason to explain this is based on the fact that they can easily be threatened by these large primates and afterwards they scream loud and of which may cause more irritation among the apes in the wilderness. This kind of behavior may render these creatures to think that there are foreigners in their territories and they can easily cause harm to such people. In order to reduce such experiences, the minimum age for gorilla tracking in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC is 15 years (fifteen) and above!!
For visitors who are willing to take up this memorable adventure, these primates live only in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern Uganda; Volcanoes National Park in Northwestern Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. People under the age of fifteen years are regarded as children by all standards and they are not allowed to engage in mountain gorilla encounters in any of Uganda, Rwanda and DRC gorilla trekking destinations. Mountain gorillas are listed in the IUCN Red list as the critically endangered apes and in the whole world, there are fewer than 900. It is also assumed that people under 15 years are very vulnerable to transmitted diseases and can easily spread such diseases to these endangered species while in an encounter with them. In order to minimize such risks, conservation authorities from respective countries where gorilla trekking safaris take place as well as stakeholders that are involved in conservation of mountain gorillas agreed on above minimum age.
Another reason for age limit in gorilla trekking is that it is hard to predict how the children under fifteen years will behave while in a face to face encounter with the large apes. Children can opt to run away rather than scouting or bowing down in case the gorillas become irritated due to human presence in their habitat and can make these species to follow trekkers as they are wild animals although they are habituated. Gorilla trekking is not safe throughout and the fact that they are wildlife species their behavior can easily change depending on the varied mood and surrounding atmosphere. For people above 15 years they are believed that they can assist themselves in case of any occurrence in the forest and they are grown up to abide by the whole gorilla trekking rules in the destination. Mountain gorillas have emotions; they are fearful and scared by strange occurrences in their habitat take for instance the flash lights from the cameras. They can become irritated depending on what they feel, in most cases get overwhelmed and feel challenged in their habitat and the best that they can do is fight back in self defense.
The forests where gorilla trekking takes place are also thick and features several trails and can be hard for children below 15 years to catch up with the map of the area and in case of any off trail it can be a challenging to trace. Children naturally playful and can slow down the speed of that person responsible for them and indirectly impacts on the guide and the tracking group at large given the time that is allocated for visitors to be in the forest with the mountain gorillas. For persons above 15 years, they can easily follow the rules and be less playful while on the trek.
To minimize such negative results, persons under 15 years are not allowed to go for gorilla trekking safaris in any of Uganda, Rwanda, DRC destinations. Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) have therefore managed to limit children from this amazing adventure using a gorilla permit for anyone willing to track mountain gorillas. Your tour operator or park authority will also request visitors to present their passport copy especially for all those who book gorilla trekking permits. If you are identified to be less than 15 years, then automatically you will not be given the permit and also advised not to go for the trek.
In case you succeed to access the permit on booking, you may not run away for ever but will be sighted on the actual gorilla trek. Before gorilla trekking there is an early morning briefing and all tourists are required to present their original copies of passports and if your age is doubted, then they may request for your birth certificate and if afterwards it is affirmed that you are under the age limit, you will not be allowed to go for gorilla trekking in stunning vegetation of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the Virunga National Park or Volcanoes National Park. You can only be lucky if it is a very special plan that is arranged between the parents and the park authorities but this rarely happens because the law is strict.
In conclusion, gorilla trekking is a breathtaking adventure that requires visitors to be physically well in order to hike to view gorillas in the wilderness. Persons below 15 years tend to be playful and given the nature of the adventure, they can slow down the trekking speed of not only the person whom they came with in the forest but also the rest of trekkers. Also, mountain gorillas are wild animals and this means they can be emotional especially when irritated and children below 15 may not handle to observe all the rules and regulations of this adventure if they encounter these impressive primates.