Gorilla Trekking For Seniors, The Elderly & Disabled

Many people who go on safari to Africa take part in gorilla trekking tours. One of the most awe-inspiring things any traveler should do is see these enormous apes in their own environment. As an endangered species, mountain gorillas are found in just three African countries: Rwanda (in Volcanoes National Park), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (in Virunga National Park), and Uganda (in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks). There are more than 1,000 mountain gorillas left in the world.

One of the most unforgettable wildlife encounters is visiting a habituated gorilla group; mountain gorillas are fascinating creatures. Thousands upon thousands of people, including many seniors, go to see it. Due to their endangered status, mountain gorilla trekking is among the most costly wildlife safaris, but it is every wildlife enthusiast’s dream to see these majestic creatures in their natural environment. Because gorillas are endemic to their high-altitude habitat, governments around the world work hard to protect these animals. A gorilla permit is required to trek with mountain gorillas; in Rwanda, it costs $1,500 per person, in Uganda, $800 per person, and in the Congo, $450 per person. But still,

Gorilla Trekking For Seniors

Visitors must be at least 15 years old to observe mountain gorillas, but the African safari experience can be physically demanding due to the steep inclines, dense vegetation, and muddy paths that tourists must traverse. Additionally, tourists must be prepared to trek for lengthy hours in order to find their allocated gorilla family. You must, then, go when you are well-prepared and physically able to do so. If you aren’t emotionally and physically ready, you might not make it through your gorilla trip. In addition, anyone who aren’t in peak physical shape, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, or anyone else with a physical limitation, may find these challenges particularly challenging.

Gorilla trekking is a great activity for people of all ages, not just active young adults. In fact, anyone between the ages of 50 and 60 is considered a senior. It is common practice to assign groups of gorillas located near the park headquarters to older tourists on gorilla trekking expeditions. The park rangers and wardens at the headquarters will brief the older trekkers, as they would on any other gorilla trekking adventure. Travelers will be asked to produce their passports for verification and to identify any individuals who are less fit, including the elderly, during the briefing. This will ensure that they are placed in gorilla groups close to the park’s main office.

Transportation to the gorillas can be arranged via sedan chairs and porters for those who are unable to walk long distances or who are incapacitated. Conversely, for more time in the primal jungle, older tourists who are in excellent health might ask for longer gorilla hikes. Amazing personal encounters with mountain gorillas and other smaller primates, animals, birds, beautiful vegetation, and waterfalls are just a few of the many exciting and rewarding aspects of gorilla treks.

Mountain Gorilla Trek in Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking in the Congo (DRC) – Kahuzi Biega National Park

Things to consider when planning gorilla trekking tours for the elderly/Disabled/Seniors

Availability of Gorilla trekking permits

Gorilla trekking permits are required for anyone wishing to observe mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, or Rwanda, as has been said before. Tourists over the age of 60 should plan ahead and reserve their gorilla trekking permits at least three months before their desired safari date to avoid disappointment due to the strong demand for these adventures. Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo all have different gorilla permit prices: $1,500, $800, and $450, respectively. There is a daily limit of eight people that can trek with a gorilla family. The gorilla troop will not be stressed out or exposed to human illnesses because of this. In addition, those who opt for a multi-day mountain gorilla trekking experience (sometimes known as “double gorilla trekking”) should be prepared to walk with two separate groups of gorillas.

Declaration of age and any health issues

Travelers over the age of 65 must advise their tour operators of all relevant medical information, including age, when making a reservation for a gorilla trekking tours. The tour operators can use this information to prepare for any kind of problem, including crises.

Transportation to the gorilla national parks

Once the travel agency has all the necessary details regarding the senior traveler, they will begin to organize your gorilla trekking trip, which includes transportation to the gorilla national parks. It might be difficult for the elderly to drive the eight or nine hours from Entebbe or Kampala to the gorilla areas in southwestern Uganda. Therefore, flying within the country is the best bet. Next, you will be picked up by the driver guide at the specified airstrips and taken to the park. Although domestic flights are more efficient and quicker, they are also more expensive. A different option would be to fly into Kigali and then drive for around five hours to reach Bwindi or Mgahinga. The Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, however, can be reached from Kigali in around three hours by 4×4 safari vehicle.

For those on a tight budget who can’t afford domestic flights, a customized 4WD safari vehicle is a great alternative for the lengthy road journey. Just make sure to stop for lunch, restroom breaks, and rest stops along the way. The tour operator will set up a safari vehicle to take you from your park lodgings to the gorilla trekking trailhead while you’re there.

Best Accommodation for the Elderly

While visiting gorilla national parks, it’s important to consider your tastes, budget, and the location of the accommodation facility while making your choice. For the convenience of older guests, it is recommended that lodges or camos be located near the gorilla trekking trailhead. Accommodations in Bwindi, Mgahinga, the Volcanoes, and Virunga National Parks vary from affordable to ultra-luxury, depending on one’s budget. In each of these groups you can find a wide variety of lodging options, including safari lodges, hotels, cottages, tented camps, and campsites. As a whole, these lodging options are well-suited to the needs of the elderly and those with disabilities.

Gorilla Trekking For Seniors: Using sedan chairs and hiring porters

The logistics of trekking the mountain gorillas should be considered after those of transportation, lodging, and gorilla permits for the older tourists. The logistics of getting to the mountain gorillas, including the renting of sedan chairs, stretchers, and porters, must be considered. The sedan chairs and porters will be waiting for you after the briefing at the park headquarters. The sedan chairs are sturdy, with straps for safety, a steel base, and handles for the porters to make them easy to transport. A minimum of ten porters should be hired by every senior traveler, as only four can move the sedan chair at once, and the remaining porters will have to accompany the others to ensure that they take turns in case the others get tired.

Once you’ve had your contact with the gorillas, the porters will return you to the park headquarters, where your driving guide is waiting. It can cost $400 to $500 to hire a sedan chair and porters. The porters will take turns carrying your heavy gear, such as your day bag, binoculars, and cameras. Alternatively, for $15 to $20, tourists who aren’t elderly or crippled but still want a helping hand with their bags and the challenging terrain can employ the services of a porter. Since the parks employ residents from the surrounding areas, hiring porters is an act of community service.

Safety and security during gorilla trekking for the Elderly/Seniors/Disabled

Given their frailty, most elderly tourists are concerned about their safety in national parks where gorillas are protected. Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks in Uganda are two of the most secure national parks in the world. Armed rangers protect tourists on gorilla treks from potentially harmful wild creatures like elephants, buffalo, and more.

Neither Uganda nor Rwanda has seen major civil disturbances in over 20 years. While the stability of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is difficult to predict, the government has instituted numerous security measures, including the use of armed rangers, to ensure the safety of tourists engaged in gorilla trekking. Gorilla trekking in the Congo is, hence, completely risk-free.

Best Place to Go Gorilla trekking for the Elderly/Seniors/Disabled

Regardless of which gorilla country one chooses, gorilla trekking excursions for the elderly are possible everywhere. However, those with disabilities or who are elderly may find Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park to be an ideal site for a gorilla trekking adventure. Bwindi, in the Kabale district, is home to half of the world’s mountain gorilla population and is often considered to be the best gorilla trekking destinations. Being at a lower elevation than other gorilla parks also makes trekking the mountain gorillas easier for the elderly and physically impaired. There are 52 different gorilla groups in Bwindi, but only 20 of them are habituated and available for gorilla trekking in the park’s four specific areas: Rushaga, Ruhija, Nkuringo, and Buhoma.

Despite sharing an ecology, these regions are distinct from one another in terms of topography, natural features, and the density of mountain gorilla populations. Because most of the gorilla families in Ruhija are located close to the sector starting point for gorilla trekking, it is the best sector for the elderly out of the four. Therefore, the families are great for hikes with the elderly because they are easily accessible. It takes 30 minutes to 6 hours to undertake gorilla trekking, and on a good day in Ruhija, tourists can find the gorillas in 30 minutes. This is not certain, though, due to the migratory nature of gorillas. It’s hard to say where or when you might find them.

The sector you plan to visit dictates whether gorilla permits are available. You have a better chance of starting your gorilla trekking expedition if you reserve your gorilla permit in advance. Gorilla trips are in very great demand, thus it’s recommended that you reserve your permit at least three months in advance. You should familiarize yourself with the various Bwindi gorilla groups and their habitats before reserving a gorilla trip. Specifically for the Ruhija sector, this data can tell you which gorilla groups are geographically closest to the park headquarters. When you’re ready, just call your operator, and they’ll take it from there.

Best time to go Gorilla trekking for the Elderly/Disabled/Seniors

During the dry season, which lasts from December to February and June to early September, the parks are open and gorilla trekking is a great activity for older adults. The trekking trails and steep hills in the gorilla parks become much easier to traverse during this rainy season. In addition, the sparse foliage allows for unobstructed views of the mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking, however, is a year-round activity suitable for the elderly. During the wet seasons (March–May and October–November), one should definitely bring the essential gear for gorilla trekking.

Gorilla trekking ( Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park – Uganda)