Are there any age restrictions for gorilla trekking? – Minimum Age for Gorilla Trekking

Mountain gorilla trekking is a captivating adventure that takes you into the tropical jungles of Africa to witness the endangered Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat. Mountain gorillas are however an endangered species and a few thousand of these gentle primates dwell in tropical rainforests of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Virunga Massif. The fact that mountain gorillas are endangered makes them even more appealing to see thus attracting thousands of travelers from all over the world annually to do gorilla trekking. Being an endangered species, there is need to conserve them and their habitat and thus measures like the age restrictions for gorilla trekking. If you are wondering ‘‘Are there any age restrictions for gorilla trekking?’’ Yes, there is a set minimum age for gorilla trekking.

Many travelers have visited Uganda, Rwanda and D. R Congo to trek mountain gorillas and each year, the number of visitors rises, making it even more popular. The fact that gorilla trekking/ gorilla tracking has attracted many travelers, it has also necessitated improved conservation measures like gorilla permits, age restrictions for gorilla trekking, and general issued rules and guidelines for trekking. For those planning to visit Uganda, Rwanda, and the D.R Congo for gorilla trekking safari holidays with children, it is important to know about the minimum age for gorilla trekking in these destinations. This complete guide is designed to equip you with knowledge about gorilla trekking and the age restrictions for gorilla trekking/Gorilla trekking age limit.


Age limit for gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo – age restrictions for gorilla trekking

The age restriction for gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda, and D. R Congo is 15 years, however, there can be exceptions in Uganda. The age limit for gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda, and Democratic republic of Congo is set by respective Authorities that are responsible for gorilla protection, conservation, management of these gorilla parks. There are four national parks across these three countries (Uganda, Rwanda, and D.R Congo) that inhabit the endangered mountain gorillas. Uganda has two of these four national Parks (Bindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park) while the other two are located in Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park) and D.R Congo (Virunga National Park).

In Uganda, the Authority responsible for gorilla protection and conservation is the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) – also responsible for setting the  age restrictions for gorilla trekking and other gorilla trekking guidelines and rules.

In Rwanda, the Rwanda Development board is responsible for gorilla conservation, protection, and setting the age restrictions for gorilla trekking among other gorilla trekking guidelines and rules.

Both the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) are also the sole bodies responsible for issuing gorilla trekking permits in these respective countries. To acquire a gorilla permit/gorilla trekking permit, one must be eligible and in accordance with the set age restrictions for gorilla trekking. Individuals below the age of 15 years are not eligible to acquire gorilla trekking permits. However, you can still travel with these youngsters since there are more interesting safari activities that they can embark on apart from gorilla trekking.


Importance of Gorilla trekking age limit – Why the minimum age for gorilla trekking?

The gorilla trekking age limit is 15 years of age in all gorilla trekking locations. The age restrictions for gorilla trekking is set at 15 years because individuals above 15 years of age are considered to be adults. Individuals below 15 years are thus considered minors and are not eligible for gorilla trekking. Despite being habituated and calm creature, mountain gorillas are wild animals and their entire behavior can not be predicted. Gorillas are generally gentle creatures however, when they feel threatened, they usually react by charging and becoming aggressive. Th only way you can survive their attack is by becoming submissive.

Children below 15 years may not be able to abide by the guidelines and may not be able to stay calm or lay low incase of a gorilla attack. They may tend to scream or run away that will only escalate the situation forcing the silverback to attack. Mature travelers above 15 years of age are therefore the best candidates for gorilla trekking since they are usually good at controlling their emotions and following the guidelines issued by the ranger guide.

Gorilla trekking is a physically demanding wildlife experience that requires good preparation. Youngsters may not be physically fit and mentally prepared for this adventure. The trek to see gorillas in the wild entails trekking through thick vegetation and uneven terrain that is challenging. Mature traveler are considered strong enough to navigate through the jungles.

Very young children are likely to slow down the trek. Since the trek is usually challenging, it is likely to pose a great challenge to youngsters with little or no experience trekking in thick forests with uneven terrains. Children may struggle to navigate the forest and also have high chances of failing to complete the trek. This will thus require the guide to use a favorable trekking speed for them and thus slowing down the trek.

Young children usually have weak immune system and can easily catch communicable diseases like flue and cough. Since mountain gorillas share DNA with humans, they are highly susceptible to human diseases and if they are infected, it may lead to death. To protect them, young children are restricted to trek gorillas with the Age limit of gorilla trekking or age restrictions for gorilla trekking.

Gorilla trekking with kids – Why young children may be allowed to trek gorillas?

However much the age restrictions for gorilla trekking is well clearly set and stated, there are instances where children below the minimum age for gorilla trekking may be allowed to trek gorillas. If you are planning to go gorilla trekking with kids, there are a number of circumstances that may grant your children a chance to trek gorillas in the wild. The following are the circumstances under which children below the age limit of gorilla trekking maybe allowed to track gorillas;

Children who are 14 years, making 15 in a few month from the dates of trekking: If you are planning to visit for gorilla trekking with your child who is 14 years making 15 years in a few months from the trekking dates, your child can surely participate in Gorilla trekking. although this child may not be eligible to do gorilla trekking they can be allowed to trek gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The child should however well prepared and physically fit to do the trek.

To be allowed to trek however requires the parents of the child to provide pictures of the child to the Uganda Wildlife Authority for evaluation. Parents are also required to provide a passport copy of the child with a current photo for evaluation.

When the child is escorted by parent: If you are planning to trek gorillas with your child below the eligible age for gorilla trekking, he or she can be allowed to trek as long as the parents are accompanying them into the forest.  The Uganda Wildlife Authority will require parents to sign a consent/indemnity form assuming the responsibility of the child during the trek. The child and parents will the be allocated to a nearby gorilla family that does not require trekking for long. Potters can be of great help during the trek, they will help you carry the luggage and the child on a sedan chair where necessary.

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