What is the Age Limit for Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda?

What is the age limit for gorilla trekking in Rwanda? Traveling to Rwanda, the land of a thousand Hills is a thrilling and rewarding experience. However, the opportunity to trek and spend time with the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is second to none. Venturing into the jungles of Volcanoes National Park and contemplating how the Giant Apes go about their daily routines of feeding, playing, grooming, and resting is the starting point for a memorable journey. Any enthusiastic primate lover will want to visit mountain gorillas at least once in a lifetime.

Rwanda has 12 Habituated gorilla families

Rwanda has over 40 gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park, but only about 12 have been fully habituated for tracking while several are habituated for scientific research. Each of the habituated gorilla families can be visited by 8 visitors daily for an experience that lasts one hour. In this regard, only 96 gorilla permits are issued per day by the Rwanda Development Board for primate enthusiast to visit, learn, and take photos of the Great Apes as they live their normal lives in their natural environment.

However, some primate livers have children who they would want to bring along with them for gorilla trekking in Rwanda. It is for this reason that we receive questions about the age limit for gorilla trekking in this beautiful country. Interestingly, we have the answer to your question. The age limit for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is 15 years and it is for a good reason.

Why is there an age limit for gorilla trekking in Rwanda?

Physical demands of gorilla trekking adventures

Mountain gorillas in Rwanda (and all the other places where they are) live in areas of high elevations- between 2500 and 4000 meters above sea level. This means that Rwanda gorilla treks are physically demanding adventures that require a certain level of physical fitness, strength, and endurance, which a 5-year-old or 10-year-old may not possess.  Most gorilla trekking trails in Volcanoes National Park involve long hours (some even taking up to 6 hours) of walking each day, often on steep, rocky, and uneven terrains before a habituated gorilla family is finally encountered. You wouldn’t expect a young child to be physically fit and prepared for long walks, hence likely to make treks longer. For instance, something that would take 6 hours might end up taking even 10 hours. It is for this reason that the age limit for gorilla trekking in Rwanda was put at 15 years.

Children are more susceptible to communicable diseases than adults

Mountain gorillas are closely related to humans (in fact we share at least 98.2% of DNA with these adorable creatures), which makes them susceptible to a lot of communicable diseases such as flu and cough. The fact that children are more susceptible to communicable diseases means they can also easily spread it to the vulnerable mountain gorillas. Therefore, setting the age limit for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is a precautionary and protective measure for the Gentle Giants and visitors alike.

Children’s reaction to spotting mountain gorillas is unpredictable

Before venturing into the jungles of Volcanoes National Park, Ruhengeri to search for the endangered mountain gorillas, visitors are first briefed. One of the important things visitors are told during the briefing is not to run or cry when the Giant Apes charge. However, you never can tell whether a young child of 5 or even 7 years can keep his/her cool. Also, it might be difficult for such a child to hold excitement and not scream after seeing mountain gorillas play or fight. Therefore, limiting gorilla trekking to only 15-year-olds is a way of preventing unnecessary excitement, which might scare away the mountain gorillas or make them charge.

Also, there are times when mountain gorillas become irritated by visitors in the middle of the viewing process. The Giant Apes will begin exhibiting signs of attack or charging, and in such cases, visitors are required to follow certain procedures like slowly withdrawing or avoiding direct eye contact. However, this might not be the case with young children who might become scared and scream or start running thus escalating aggression. To avoid this, the age limit for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is 15 years.

How to go for gorilla trekking in Rwanda with children below 15 years

This may come as a surprise but there is a possibility that your child, who is almost 15 (should be 13 or 14 years) can undertake gorilla tours in Rwanda. Do you want to know how? Read on;

If your child (13 or 14 years old) is in good physical condition and is physically fit, there is a chance to meet face-to-face with the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. The best way to go about it is by booking a private gorilla trekking adventure in Volcanoes National Park. This option provides for a private trekking experience for an entire habituated gorilla family with a personalized tour guide service.

Best time to gorilla for Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Tour with kids

Just like for adults, the dry season (June to September and December to February) is the best season to go on a Rwanda Gorilla Trekking tour with kids. These months offer reduced precipitation levels. And sparser vegetation which make it easier to maneuver through the jungles. Additionally, the forest trails are in perfect condition (less muddy or slippery) during these months, in addition to the fact that you will find many gorilla trekkers along the way.

Proper gear for gorilla trekking in Rwanda with kids

Unlike adults, children may not be able to express themselves. Hence there is a need to be extra careful when buying the appropriate gorilla trekking gear. You need to pack comfortable and breathable warm clothing (sweater, long-sleeved shirt, and safari pants). Gardening gloves, sturdy hiking boots with enough ankle support, gaiters. A waterproof backpack for carrying items you will need while trekking. A basic first aid kit (with medicines for altitude sickness, blister medication, anti-diarrheal medicines, and general medicines). Toiletries, and a good camera among others. For clothing and footwear, it is advisable to first try them beforehand to be sure they fit well.

Other activities in/around Volcanoes National Park for children below 15 years

The age limit for gorilla trekking in Rwanda doesn’t mean you should leave your young children back home or cancel your planned gorilla trekking adventures. Young children can take part in nature walks around the Lodge. or Alternatively, they can engage activities in the Park, coffee and tea tours, biking tours, and bird watching.

Undertaking a gorilla trekking tour in Rwanda with kids is a major decision and a critical one as well. This is due to the minimum age limit of 15 years. If you must take kids for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, they should be at least 13 or 14 years and be prepared physically and mentally. Additionally, you will need to book a private gorilla trekking adventure for an exclusive experience with the Giant Apes.

Conclusively, the demand for gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda is high, and book your slot among any of the 12 habituated gorilla families.  We recommend booking at least 6-12 months in advance. We have had success stories of visitors tracking gorillas before making 15. To plan your gorilla safari of a lifetime with your kids, talk to a safari expert. We shall provide you with all the crucial information you require for deciding whether or not to undertake your kids for a gorilla trekking tour in Rwanda.

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