Gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda isn’t only for the young energetic but also for the elderly. With only 3 countries where mountain gorillas thrive from, a glimpse at these rare species in the wild is by far a magical encounter. Trekking to see the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is only possible in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
About 1063 mountain gorillas still exist in the wild and Uganda prides itself as a home to about half of all the world’s population of these unusual primate species and the remaining portion thrives in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Uganda, mountain gorilla trekking is only possible in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In Rwanda, gorilla safaris take place in the magnificent Volcanoes National Park and gorilla trekking in DR Congo is done in Virunga National Park.
Gorilla trekking is such a thrilling primate adventure and a complete trek requires some physical wellness in you which is why it is essential to be well-prepared by doing adequate exercise. Mountain gorillas dwell mostly in mountainous places with an elevation of about 2300 and 4500 meters, comprising of dense tropical rain-forests. Given the nature of habitat where these apes are found, the elderly or senior trekkers may find it challenging but nevertheless, a visit to Rwanda or Uganda has everyone covered regardless of their age brackets.
How gorilla trekking for elderly is arranged?
The fact that trekking mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park or Volcanoes National Park can be strenuous and by nature of this adventure, you need to be physically fit. Hiking to see the mountain gorillas involves hiking through dense vegetation and steep slopes, elderly travellers on gorilla safari may certainly find it challenging to make a complete trek. When planning a gorilla safari for the elderly, first, we ascertain if he or she can walk and we further explain it to Uganda Wildlife Authority officials so that he or she can be assigned the easy to a very easy or nearby by gorilla family in his or her ability to track.
During the briefing, you will be required to present a valid passport and a gorilla permit. This also involves identifying visitors who may require special attention. For those who are above 60 years old and they are fit can be allocated to the nearby gorilla group to trek. In case you are 60 years and in better shape, you will embark on a longer gorilla trek. On actual gorilla trek, you come across other creatures including butterflies, bird species, primates, insects and many more including un-habituated gorillas.
Besides considering visitor hiking ability or physical wellness, elderly visitors are also encouraged to book their gorilla safaris in Rwanda or Uganda early. This is to help the tour operator in case there is need for sedan chairs and other equipment. Carriers and sedan chairs can be got between $400 and $500. The cost depends on the weight of the client. It includes porters who will be carrying the visitor.
Where to go for gorilla trekking?
Elderly visitors on gorilla safari can visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park to trek mountain gorillas. These parks are situated in Southwestern Uganda and they inhabit about half of all the mountain gorillas that remain on planet earth today. There are 21 gorilla families that have been habituated and set for gorilla trekking in Uganda. In Bwindi National Park, gorilla treks are done in Ruhija, Nkuringo, Rushaga and Buhoma sectors. Ruhija region of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is considered to be the most accessible.
Besides visiting Uganda, gorilla trekking is also conducted in Volcanoes National Park. This park is set in Northwestern Rwanda and it is comprised of 10 habituated families. Visitors planning to visit this park for gorilla trekking as an elderly person shouldn’t opt for the Susa A since it is a strenuous group to trek. However, this may depend on your travel interest. There are easy-trek gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda.
You can also opt for Virunga National Park. A section of mountain gorillas thrives in Congo’s Virunga National Park and there are 8 gorilla families set for trekking in this park.
Best time to go for gorilla trekking
Gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo for an elderly person is best done during the dry season. This is because there is low rainfall amount received during this period and the habitat is kept drier thus making it easier to search for mountain gorillas. The dry months of the year in Volcanoes National Park, Virunga National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park start in June, July, August, September and December, January, February.
Where to stay?
Each gorilla park has its own accommodation options. In Uganda, the notable accommodation choices include Nshongi Camp, Broadbill Forest Camp, Buhoma Community Rest Camp-budget options; Gorilla Mist Camp, Nkuringo Gorilla Camp, Eco Marvels Gorilla Resort, Engagi Lodge Bwindi, Lake Kitandara Bwindi Camp (Mid-range); Chameleon Hill Lodge, Buhoma Lodge, Mahogany Springs Lodge-Luxury alternatives.
In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the available lodges include Mount Gahinga Lodge, Mucha Hotel Kisoro, Kisoro Tourist Hotel.
In Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, you opt for Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge, Kinigi Guesthouse, Muhabura Hotel and in the Virunga National Park, there is Mikeno Lodge.
What to pack for gorilla trekking?
Pack appropriately for gorilla trekking safari in Uganda, Rwanda or DRC. In your packing list, consider the essential items first including among others waterproof hiking boots, daypack, insect repellents, bottled drinking water, energy-giving snacks, long-sleeved shirt, a camera without a flashlight, sweater, gardening gloves and many more.
If you are visiting Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park by road, you will spend about 9-10 hours drive from Kampala. From Kigali, it is 3-4 hours’ drive. By air, you can fly from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip then connect to park of your preference.
Volcanoes National Park, on the other hand, is set in Northwestern Rwanda and to get to this park, you will spend about 2-3 hours to drive from Kigali. It is the most accessible park compared to the rest of the gorilla destinations.
In conclusion, gorilla trekking isn’t only limited to energetic trekkers but also elderly. However, you have to be prepared enough so as to make a complete trek.