A Question often asked – How old must one be to trek Gorillas?
Why is the Minimum Age for Gorilla Trekking is 15 in Uganda – Rwanda – DR Congo?
How old must one be to trek Gorillas? The Minimum Age for Gorilla Trekking is 15 in Uganda – Rwanda – DR Congo. Many parents might not agree with the fifteen years minimum age rule. However, it is the rule that governs when children can track gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Why put the minimum Age for Gorilla tracking at 15?
Here is what we often hear from a client, “My daughter or son is thirteen years old and as physically mature as a sixteen-year-old.”
Parents might think that their child is physically and emotionally mature. The same parents are not aware of what awaits them on Bwindi Impenetrable Forest’s trails. They do not know how their child will respond emotionally in the presence of the gentle giants of the forest. They do not know if their child has the stamina, the physical ability to last five hours on the trek up and down ridges.
The reality is this. A gorilla trek is no stroll in the park for a person of any age. Research has shown that those below fifteen may lack the emotional stability needed for an encounter with a gorilla family. May not follow the gorilla trekking rules in place for the welfare of trekkers and the great apes.
One example of a Teen just below 15 trekking Gorillas:
Uganda may allow a person under fifteen to trek gorillas if that person is 15 during the year of trekking. We submit such a waiver in writing and are reviewed by the proper authorities.
A father with three teens, one just below fifteen, requested that we seek permission for his daughter to trek the gorillas on their family safari in Uganda. His daughter received a waiver from Uganda Wildlife, and she received permits to track gorillas on two different days.
She only did one trek and that with incredible difficulty. Without the assistance of a female-porter, she would have had to turn back. Her behavior in the gorilla family’s presence did not conform to the trekking rules in place. It showed us, like a gorilla tour operator, that the minimum age rule is sound.
We suggest that parents wait to bring their teenage son or daughter when they have turned 15 as a birthday gift, something they will never forget.
Not too long ago, an Australian woman, as a birthday gift, took her fifteen-year-old son on an eight-day Safari. They both loved it, and she gushed about the experience on her radio show back in Australia.
How old must one be to trek Gorillas – The one Exception:
Should your child turn 15 in the same calendar year as the Gorilla Trek, then an exception may be made by Uganda Wildlife Authority. We must apply for a waiver with the Uganda Wildlife Authority. They carefully review it and decide if the waiver is warranted based on the input that we supply.
The Minimum Age for Gorilla Trekking is 15 in Uganda – Rwanda – DR Congo. Suppose you were planning a gorilla safari with your children who have not yet reached fifteen. In that case, we suggest that you plan the safari as part of their fifteenth birthday celebration.
We further suggest that you plan, especially if your visit will be during the year’s peak or high seasons.
What to do with Children below 15 while Parents are Trekking Gorillas
Yes, the minimum age for Gorilla Trekking is fifteen. It is a strictly enforced rule, and there are no ways around it. One cannot say they look older or they look mature. It is the date of birth on the child’s passport that counts. You cannot get a driver’s permit below for those below the age of sixteen in most US States. The same rule applies to Uganda. You cannot obtain a Gorilla permit for a fourteen-year-old.
For younger children, we arrange for nanny services for your child:
We usually hire a pediatric nurse from Bwindi Community Hospital. The hospital has a certified nursing training school besides being one of the best rural hospitals in all of Uganda. We also arrange for a shorter gorilla trek for the parents. One that is less. The driver-guide can assist the nurse. The child will go with the driver-guide to the park headquarters to meet you upon your Gorilla Encounter return.
For older children not yet 15, we arrange age and interest related activities:
There are many activities that you are children can participate in while you are gorilla trekking. There is the Batwa Experience, a learning experience as to how the first people of the forest lived in harmony with nature and the Gorillas. They can be taken on a village walk, which includes a school visit, and learns how the surrounding community lives.
There are hikes, bird-walks, bike rides through and around the forest. None of the gorilla parks lack alternative activities for children who are under the age of fifteen.
In all cases, your children’s well-being will be looked after by our kid-friendly driver-guide, who has your family’s wellness on his mind.
In Post-COVID times we adhere to and exceed the protocols that have been put into place for your protection. The same applies to your children. We have not seen the pandemic’s severity in Uganda as in Europe, North and South America, Australia. However, prevention is the best medicine.
We know Uganda – we know Gorillas- We know Families – we have our own. We know how to create the perfect Family Safari with teens.