Can a child of Below 15 Years Trek Mountain Gorillas

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January 15, 2020
Can a child of Below 15 Years Trek Mountain Gorillas

Yes, at some times, children below 15 years are allowed to trek gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo under some circumstances. Whereas the age limit for gorilla trekking is 15 years in all gorilla tour destinations, a child aged below 15 years may be allowed to trek gorillas. In all gorilla destinations, responsible governement tourism bodies (Uganda Wildlife Authority in Uganda, Rwanda Development Board in Rwanda and the IUCN in Congo set 15 years as the age limit for gorilla trekking. Age limit is very restricted in gorilla bookings in a way that travelers are asked to submit in their passport details to confirm that children’s age not underage. The reasons for the age limit are crucial to ensure the safety of the endangered gorillas in the jungle as well as for the children.

When is an underage child allowed to trek gorillas?
Well, children yet to celebrate her/his 15th birthday may be allowed to trek gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo if respective park management confirms this. Children left with a short time, for example, two months to celebrate their 15th birthday are given a chance to trek gorillas along with their parents and other adult travelers. The kids are believed to be mature already and able to deal with the forest conditions such as unexpected rainfall, altitudinal differences, thick bushes and long hours of trekking. More so, a child trekking gorillas should be physically fit and able to walk for long hours without getting complications, which can distort the gorilla trekking experience for the entire group. In most cases, children below 15 years are out in the same group with their parents or travel mates who keep an eye on this underage child in case of any challenge.

When parents ask for it

Gorilla trekking age limit

Travelers capturing a gorilla

There is time when a parent requests permission for his/her underage child to trek gorillas. In this instance, a traveler writes a letter to Uganda Wildlife Authority or Rwanda development board through a travel operator requesting the park management to allow his/her child to tale part in gorilla trekking. In this letter, the parent takes full responsibility for anything that happens to the child. In case a child gets any complications while in the jungle, park management and government bodies have no case to answer. The letter signed by the parent of a child is called the Uganda wildlife Authority Waiver and release liability agreement. The parent/guardian is liable to anything that happens to his/her child during gorilla trekking. However, this child should be nearing her/his 15th birthday.

Gorilla permits costs for children below 15 years
Whichever age of a traveler, the cost of gorilla permit prices in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo are fixed for all travelers of all ages. Gorilla permits in Uganda cost 4700 for foreign non-residents, $600 or foreign residents and UGX for East African residents. in Rwanda, a single permit costs $1500 each while a Congo gorilla permit costs $450 each. Therefore a child below 15 years will pay the same amount as for his/her parent to get the permit. Gorilla permit bookings in all gorilla countries are recommended at least 6 months in advance to ensure timely planning and avoid last-minute bookings.

Reasons for age limit in Gorilla Trekking
There are reasons why respective governments put an age limit for gorilla trekking. Firstly, children of that age are susceptible to illnesses. They can, therefore, trap a cough from the endangered gorillas. Also, children of age in most cases have a susceptible illness such as cough, flu that can easily spread to the endangered gorillas. More so, children below 15 years are in most cases playful and may not keep the rules and regulations of gorilla trekking such as keeping a distance f seven meters from the gorillas or else speaking at a low tone when with gorillas as advised. The strenuous nature of gorilla treks at times makes it challenging for children below 15 years. At times when mountain gorillas move to areas of high altitudes, trekking time can go up to 8 hours which a child below 15 years may not manage. Also, trekking through thick thorny bushes and slippery muddy grounds is a challenge for the underage children. The age limit is therefore for the safety of children and endangered gorillas.

Generally, children below 15 years are not allowed to trek mountain gorillas. However, if you have a child yet to celebrate her/his 15th birthday, contact Gorilla Trek Africa for advice and bookings.