gorilla trekking for people with disabilities
Gorilla Trekking for older travelers can be organized the same way just like others. The only thing that makes it different is that older people and disabled people are assigned to the Gorilla families which are much closer to the park offices. If an Elder person cannot walk for long distances, they have a greater opportunity to hire for themselves a special porter and a sedan chair.
Mountain gorilla trekking little background, Mountain gorilla trekking experience are arguably the most fascinating primates on earth. Everyone wants to see them in their natural environment due to the fact that Gorillas cannot thrive in zoos like the Lowland gorillas. In order for you to see mountain gorillas physically, you must travel to Africa. Mountain Gorillas can only be seen in three African countries namely Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo, the gorillas can be seen in Volcanoes National Park while in Congo mountain gorillas are surviving in Virunga national park. Uganda is blessed to protect over half of the world’s total mountain gorilla population remaining in the wild, Uganda offers two different national parks namely Mgahinga gorilla national park and Bwindi Impenetrable forest National Park. Gorilla trekking experiences are expensive with a Gorilla trekking permit costing $1500 in Rwanda while in Uganda it costs $700, and $400 in DR Congo. Why are trekking mountain gorillas expensive? An encounter with mountain gorillas is considered the prime wildlife experience on earth that cannot be compared to any experience. Mountain gorillas are considered an endangered species which makes trekking permits sell like hot cake.
Mountain gorilla trekking is so demanding depending on which gorilla group a traveler is assigned to. It is very important to be ready and well prepared in good physical shape while going mountain gorilla trekking. Some mountain gorilla families live closer to the starting point for trekking, Gorilla families nearby can take only 30 minutes to locate them if you are lucky enough. However, gorilla trekking can go up to six hours. There are many factors to consider while planning your mountain gorilla trekking experience such as distance, also names of the gorilla families suggest a lot about the family, mountain gorillas stay in mountainous areas of high altitudes ranging from 2,300 and 4,500 meters above sea levels. Before your assigned mountain gorilla family, the Gorilla trek involves going through challenging terrain, muddy slopes, steep slopes, and slippery trails. The above challenges may be a problem for people with disabilities, the elderly, seniors, and those that are not in good shape for whatever reason.
Elderly people could be wondering whether mountain gorilla trekking is something that they could go for due to their physical limitations or age. Mountain gorilla trekking is not only for the youths or for people who are energetic and young. Don’t only participate in other wildlife encounters and fail to trek mountain gorilla trekking due to your physical fitness or age. In fact, most travelers who go trekking gorillas are between 40-50 years plus. Nobody is too old to go for a mountain gorilla trekking experience as long as they can get on a plane. If a traveler is wondering whether he/she can bring his/her mum or granny for mountain gorilla trekking, then you deserve to know that it is possible as long as they can catch a flight.
At the briefing time or point, the Park Rangers and wildlife wardens always check all the passports and identify all travelers who may require special attention. In case a traveler is 60 years and above, but physically fit, they are usually assigned to a nearby mountain gorilla family. If a traveler is 60 years but in excellent shape, you are free to request a longer gorilla trek to have more fun and adventure in the African authentic forest. The traveler shouldn’t accept an easier gorilla trek because someone told them to do so. There are endless discoveries to be explored while trekking mountain gorillas. Travelers always encounter beautiful flora and fauna, bird species, primate species, insects, butterfly species, and moths while trekking mountain gorillas.
Besides physical fitness and hiking ability, there are other critical ideas used for allocation of mountain gorilla families such the demand for gorilla trekking permits. When most mountain gorilla permits are booked, it becomes difficult for many travelers to get an easier trek. travelers are advised to book their mountain gorilla trekking safaris at least three months prior to their travel dates so that they may be able to get a gorilla family that is closer to their tracking point. Tourists interested in doing double gorilla trekking, double gorilla trekking means tracking mountain gorillas twice in two days or more) will be allocated a different mountain gorilla group from the one they saw the previous day/days. Only 8 people are allowed to track a mountain gorilla family in a day. This is to control the stress of these primates and expose gorillas to human diseases due to prolonged contact.
Travelers should note it’s also important to inform their tour operator about some fitness concerns or physical limitations before booking their mountain gorilla trekking trip. This information will help your tour operator to plan accordingly and arrange your required special equipment with the park authorities before your trip begins. If your trip requires a special tour van, porters, and sedan chairs if applicable. Your tour operator will add the price of the porters and the hired sedan chairs to the stand cost and he/she shares with you. Sedan chairs with handlers, a steel base, and seat belts are used to lift elderly people or people who are not fit to walk for long distances.
Another alternative for disabled people is that they can be carried within the forest by a stretcher hand-made from the local bamboo. It requires 12 strong local porters (where 4 porters at a time) are assigned to carry the elderly person. Only four men are required to carry the stretcher or sedan chair. The rest takes over once the first four porters are tired and may need to rest. These porters know the terrain and this thick forest so well, these porters stayed in this area for most of their lives. The porters carrying the elderly person can never let him/her get on the ground until they have located the mountain gorilla family assigned to them. After seeing the mountain gorilla, the porters will again lift the elder person back to the starting point where the company driver would be waiting for his or her client. Carriers and Sedan chairs can cost from $400 to $500 depending on the client’s weight. The cost above includes the porters who participated in carrying the client. Travelers concerned about the level of their physical fitness but are not disabled can as well hire porters to carry their bags, recording devices and help them during difficult parts of the hike. Hiring porters are not expensive, it may cost between $15 to $20. All trackers (fit or not fit) are often given simple hiking sticks to ease their mobility. The elderly people may require to come along with their own special hiking sticks. If you hire porters, you contribute indirectly to their economic well-being. Most of the porters are local students searching for extra income to pay for their college tuition or married men with big families to take care of. As little as it may be, you could be making a big difference in their lives.
Travelers should note it’s important to know that among all the gorilla trekking experience national parks, Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is the most ideal destination for the elderly. Why? Because Bwindi is located in less mountainous areas and Bwindi impenetrable is not part of the Virunga chained ranges of mountains like the remaining other three national parks. Bwindi impenetrable sits at a lower altitude and the Gorilla trekking trails are relatively flat compared to Mgahinga Gorilla and the Volcanoes national park of Rwanda. Bwindi’s gorilla families live on the lower ground hence offering one of the easiest hikes. Due to that Bwindi offers more mountain gorilla families, there are more habituated Gorilla families available for tracking. Bwindi alone has over 17 habituated mountain gorilla families. Bwindi also offers four different sectors including ( Rushaga sector, Buhoma sector, Nkuringo sector, and Ruhija) each sector has its own mountain gorilla family. If a traveler books their trekking permit early enough, they can be allocated a gorilla family that isn’t far from the starting point.
Mountain Gorilla trekking in the Ruhija sector offers excellency for the elderly people because it was observed that trekkers come back much earlier than those who trek in other sectors of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. However, travelers should note that sometimes finding the gorillas are unpredictable regardless of the sector you have chosen to do your tracking. Tourists can be lucky to locate their gorilla family within 30 minutes’ walk from their starting point.
Before planning to book your mountain gorilla trekking trip, or showing up at the park’s starting point, it is important for every traveler to read about the different mountain Gorilla families available in different national parks and find out which Gorilla family is ideal for you and closer to the trekking starting point or first consult your tour operator to help you check if you can be assigned to some particular mountain gorilla family. The tour operator can advise you based on their knowledge or experience about the Gorilla family. Although the group structures keep changing over the years and the Gorilla family that was easier to trek a year ago can migrate to a different location that may be far away from the park offices.
Other things to consider while planning a gorilla trekking tour for the elderly person.
Besides the ability to complete your trek, elderly tourists may worry about their safety and the security within the park considering the fact that they are already vulnerable and fragile. Safety and security during mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda are perfect. Mountain Gorilla trekking is headed by the armed park rangers whose role is to protect all the tourists from the forest animals such as elephants and forest buffaloes. There are no cases of militias in Rwanda and Uganda in over two decades but the park authorities work hard to achieve that. But the Democratic Republic of Congo situation can be unpredictable due to different security incidences in the past. Even that, security in Rwanda and Uganda is tighter. Gorilla trekking in Congo involves a lot of countless security checks and more escorts.
Another issue that may worry many tourists is the driving distance from Entebbe or Kampala to Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park. There are two solutions for the long driving distance. One is tourists can arrive from Kigali Rwanda without you entering Uganda via Entebbe. The driving time and distance from Kigali are shorter than Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. While driving from Entebbe to Bwindi impenetrable may take 8-9 hours or more. Then a drive from Kigali can approximately take 3 hours to reach the Bwindi forest. Another solution to cut the long driving distance short is to book a local chattered flight from Kajjansi Airstrip or Entebbe International Airport to Bwindi. Your local tour operator can even put all this together for you and as well wait for you at the airstrip and takes you to the park. Uganda’s local flights are expensive but so rewarding, you can reach the park in one hour only.
If your budget cannot allow you to catch a local flight to Bwindi, you should not worry as well. mountain gorilla trekking parks are all situated in areas with remarkable beautiful sceneries and other amazing wildlife reserves. You can never be bored even if you choose to be driven from Entebbe or Kampala. Travelers always encounter endless African countryside, valleys, national parks, mountains, and natural African wilderness along the way which leaves you impressed. Small stops are often arranged on that package for you to relax and discover hidden uniqueness of interest such as the equator crossing. If you combine your mountain Gorilla trekking experience with other wildlife encounters, then your trip can be designed to reduce the long driving time because you will be stopping in different national parks each day up to the time when you track the mountain Gorillas.
What about accommodation facilities for the Gorilla trekking experience, the accommodation facilities situated within the gorilla trekking parks are of high quality. These accommodation facilities range from luxury lodges to mid-range lodges, and budget lodges. Choosing an accommodation facility depends on the client’s budget. These facilities are made in form of standard cottages with grass-thatched roofs, dormitories, self-contained tented camps, and basic campsites. But Most of these hotels are constructed to also cater to people with disabilities as well.
In case a traveler is middle age but relatively unfit, it is good to prepare early by hiking around your house. If you stay near a forest, next to a mountainous or hilly area, use the opportunity to move around as you prepare your body for your gorilla trekking tour, also Other activities that may help you prepare for the mountain gorilla trekking experience include strolling, light running, climbing, and walking for long distances.
When going mountain gorilla trekking, try to carry enough energy drinking water, and snacks. They help in maintaining the body.
Besides securing an easier group to carry you, hiring the sedan chairs, the elderly travelers may need to note what to pack for mountain gorilla trekking in Africa. A gorilla trekking packing list includes hiking boots, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, long pants, hand gloves, first aid kits, rain jackets, sunglasses, walking stick, and insect repellents