Gorilla Trekking For Disabled

To see mountain gorillas, you have to travel to Africa

Gorilla Trekking For Elderly, Old, Disabled And Seniors Citizens

Gorilla trekking for elderly, old, disabled and seniors citizens in Uganda- Mountain gorillas are debatably the most fascinating primates on planet earth. Everyone wants to meet eye to eye with mountain gorillas because they cannot survive in the zoos like the lowland gorillas.  To see mountain gorillas, you have to travel to Africa and in Africa, they are only found in 3 countries – Uganda, Rwanda, DR Congo. In DR Congo, the mountain gorillas are found in Virunga national park while in Rwanda they are found in volcanoes national park. Uganda is very lucky to be hosting more than half of the remaining mountain gorillas and in two national parks – Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga national park. Gorilla tours are a bit expensive with a gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda costing $1500, Uganda $700, and DR Congo the cheapest at $400

Why mountain gorilla trekking tour is expensive?

The Mountain gorilla experience is well thought to be the ultimate wildlife experience in the world. Mountain gorillas are endangered and that is another reason why mountain gorilla permits sell out quickly and in large numbers.

Mountain gorilla trekking can be very challenging depending on which gorilla group a person is assigned to. You need to go when you are very prepared and physically fit. Some mountain gorillas stay very close to the starting point and finding them can take you like 30 minutes. However, mountain gorilla trekking can sometimes take you up to a maximum of 6 hours. The distance should not be the only thing to think of when planning to track mountain gorillas. As their name says, mountain gorillas live in mountainous areas with an elevation between 2,300 and 45,00 meters above sea level. Before allocation your gorilla family, the trek involves passing through difficult terrain, steep slopes, and slippery trails. All these challenges can be a problem for the disabled, seniors, elderly, and those that are not in good physical shape for whatever reasons.

Gorilla trekking for elderly people with disabilities

Given the fact that we have already discussed this, someone could be questioning if gorilla trekking is something, they should take part in given their physical limitations or age. Mountain gorilla trekking is not only for the youth, energetic or young people. You don’t have to go for other wildlife encounters and miss out on this once in a life activity just because of fitness, physical limitations, and age. Most travelers who participate in gorilla trekking are 40 years and above. As long as you are allowed to board a plane, you are not too old to board a plane. If you are asking yourself whether to bring your mum or granny for gorilla trekking, then you need to know that gorilla trekking is possible as long as they are allowed to take a flight.

During the briefing, the wardens and park rangers always check the passports and identify all those that may require special attention. For people that are 60 years and above at the same time fit enough, they are always assigned a nearby gorilla family. If you are ages 60 and above in excellent shape you can request a longer trek to have enough fun and adventure in the forest. It’s not advised to accept an easier trek just because someone told you to do so. There is a lot to encounter while tracking rare endangered mountain gorillas. You will come across beautiful flora and fauna (birds, insects, primates, mammals, butterflies, and moths) along the way.

Apart from the ability to hike and physical fitness, the other criteria used for distributing gorilla families is the availability of gorilla permits. When most of the gorilla permits have sold out, it becomes a bit challenging to get an easier trek. Seniors are strongly advised to book their gorilla permits at least three months in advance so that they can get a gorilla family close to the tracking point. For tourists that are going to do double trekking that is tracking mountain gorillas for two days or more will be allocated different gorilla groups every day. A maximum of 8 people is allowed to trek a single mountain gorilla family per day. This is done to avoid stressing these giant apes and exposing them to human diseases through prolonged contact.

It’s good to inform your tour operator about any physical fitness concerns or physical limitations before booking your safari to see mountain gorillas. This helps the tour operator plan accordingly and arrange any special equipment with park authorities. A special tour van may also be allocated to you as well as porters and sedan chairs if appropriate. The tour operator will add the price of sedan chairs and porters to the total cost and share it with you. sedan chairs have handlers, seat belts, and steel bases that are used to lift the elderly or the disabled to move for long distances. A stretcher is another thing that can be used to carry people with disabilities to the forest. The stretcher is made out of local bamboo. 12 strong local porters with 4 carrying at a time are assigned to carry the elderly or disabled. Only four porters can carry the stretcher or the sedan chair. The others will carry one the first four are tired and nest to rest. the porters the nature of the trails and the forest so well and have lived in the area for almost whole of their entire life. The porters will carry the elder or disabled and will never let him or her touch the ground until they find the mountain gorillas.

After allocating mountain gorillas and spending an hour with them, the porters will again carry the elder and return them to the starting point where they will meet their safari driver waiting. The cost of sedan chairs and carriers ranges between $400 and $500 depending on the weight of the client. That money includes the porter’s fee. Those who are somehow fit but not disabled can hire porters at a small fee to help them carry their heavy backpacks, cameras and give a hand during challenging sections of the hike. Porters fee to carry luggage is between $15 to $20. Every tourist participating in gorilla trekking is given a hiking stick to help them within balancing.  The elderly people may need to come with their special hiking sticks. Hiring porters help them to increase their well-being. Many of the porters in the parks are students looking for money to pay at school or married men with big families to take care of. As little as it is, you will be making a great difference in their lives.

It’s very important to note that among all the national parks with mountain gorillas, Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is the most ideal for elderly people. Why? Because it is located in less mountainous areas. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is not part of the Virunga ranges of mountains like Virunga national park, Mgahinga gorilla national park, and volcanoes national park. Its located at a lower altitude and the trails are flat compared to Mgahinga national park and volcanoes national park. Many of the mountain gorillas in the park live at a low altitude hence offering an easy hike. It’s also good to know that because Bwindi impenetrable forest national park has more gorillas, there are more habituated gorilla families available for tracking every day. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park alone has 19 habituated gorilla families open for tourism. The park has sectors namely Nkuringo, Rushaga, Buhoma, and Ruhija each with its own gorilla families. If tourists can be able to book a gorilla permit in advance, they can be assigned a gorilla family which isn’t too far away from the starting point.

Gorilla trekking in Ruhija sector is excellent for the elderly because it has been noted that tourists who trek in that sector come back early than those who trek in other sectors of the national park. However, it’s good to know that the time takes to find mountain gorillas is not predictable regardless of which sector you are going to track from. You will be the luckiest if you find a gorilla family after 30 minutes from the starting point. Before booking a gorilla trekking safari or showing up at the briefing point, it’s better to read about the different gorilla groups available in different national parks to find out which one is good for you and near the starting point. Consult your tour operator and see if they can assign to you a gorilla family of your choice. The gorilla family structures keep changing year after year and what was easier to track a year ago may have moved to a different location which is further away from the park headquarters.

Other things to consider during gorilla trekking tours for the elderly.

Apart from the ability to finish the trek, elderly people always worry about the security in the park because they are already vulnerable and even fragile. The security and safety of gorilla trekking in Rwanda are excellent. Gorilla trackers are always led by armed rangers whose role is to protect the people from dangerous animals like buffaloes, elephants as well as poachers. There are no reports of civil wars in Uganda and Rwanda for the past years but the park authorities leave nothing to chance. The situation in DR Congo can be unpredictable that fact that there have been insecurity incidences in the past years. But the security in DR Congo is tighter than that of Rwanda and Uganda. Gorilla trekking in Virunga national park includes getting used to uncountable security checks and more escorts.

Another issue that the tourists are always worried about is the driving distance from Entebbe or Kampala to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park or Mgahinga gorilla park. There are two solutions to this question. The first one is to arrive in Kigali Rwanda instead of Entebbe international airport in Uganda. The driving time from Kigali to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is shorter. Driving from Entebbe to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is about 8 to 9 hours whole from Kigali is just 3 hours. The second solution to avoid the long journey is by booking a chartered flight from Kajjansi airstrip or Entebbe international airport to Kisoro. Your safari guide can wait for you at the airstrip to take you to the park. The chattered flights are expensive but you reach the park after an hour.

If your budget can’t allow you to use a local flight to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, then no need to worry. The gorilla parks are located in areas with remarkable scenery and beautiful wildlife. You won’t get bored if you choose to travel by road.  You will see a lot of attractions like national parks, mountains, valleys, and natural African wilderness that will give you memories. Tour operators always arrange for the small stopover to relax, take photos and discover hidden points of interest like the equator. If you have a gorilla trekking safari for elderly and other wildlife encounters, then the trip is designed to reduce driving time. You will be passing through different national parks every day until you track mountain gorillas.

What about accommodation for gorilla trekking?

Yes if you are planning gorilla trekking for elderly and senior citizens, check out accommodation options within and outside gorilla parks. They range from luxury, mid-range to budget options. All this depends on your budget. The lodges are in form of standard cottages with grass-thatched roofs, self-contained and tented rooms, dormitories, and basic campsites. Most of these lodges are built at a low level to allow people with disabilities to move about easily.

In case of being middle-aged but unfit, it’s good you prepare in advance by hiking the small hills around your area most especially if you live in mountainous or hilly areas. Other activities that can help you to prepare for gorilla trekking include climbing, strolling, walking long distances, and light running.

When going gorilla trekking always carry enough water for drinking and energy-giving snacks that will help your body in good condition and energetic.

Apart from securing an easier gorilla family and being carried in the sedan chairs, elderly people need to know what to pack for mountain gorilla trekking. A gorilla trekking packing list should include a rain jacket, hiking boots, sweaters, long-sleeved shirts, sunglasses, walking sticks, long pants, insect repellents, a first aid kit, gloves, and a camera.

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