Mountain gorilla trekking is, without doubt, a bucket-list adventure for most holidaymakers to Africa. But have you thought about the elevation/altitude where mountain gorillas live? Can a person with a disability also track gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda? Yes, gorilla trekking is open to all categories of visitors including persons with disability. Mountain gorillas stay in higher altitudes ranging from 2300 to 4500 and these elevations require some fitness level for you to conquer.
A good physical fitness level is vital when it comes to gorilla trekking. But what is amazing about this primate adventure is that even persons with disabilities or the elderly aren’t excluded. There are available means that make it possible for persons with disability to also be part of gorilla trekking. These include hiring Sedan chairs or Stretchers.
The Sedan chairs or stretchers are used for carrying persons with disability or the elderly. The able-bodied men/porters at the park are hired and they will lift you on a search for a gorilla family assigned to you. To take pictures or observe mountain gorillas, you will be put down.
The Sedan chairs or Stretchers are available for hire and they are made of 2 metals. The seat is inclined in between the two metals. After you have had a briefing about guidelines for gorilla trekking, you will be lifted on Sedan chairs by potters.
The Stretchers are made of bamboo sticks and they serve as another option for persons with disability to hire for their gorilla trekking adventure. The potters can be hired around the park offices and they can help in carrying guests to see their gorilla families. If you are planning to go to encounter mountain gorillas, the dry season should be the time you should consider for your gorilla tour.
During the dry months or seasons, there is low or rain received in Rwanda or Uganda gorilla parks making it easier for potters to navigate through the forest with stretcher or sedan chairs as they take you on a search for gorillas.
Sedan chair / Bamboo Stretcher
Guests with disabilities can hire their Sedan chairs or stretchers early before the actual visit to see the rare mountain gorillas. Each Sedan chair is hired at USD300-500 per person. Porters are available for hire at USD 20, you can hire a porter in Bwindi or Mgahinga. Note, porters can also be hired to carry heavy luggage or property like photography equipment.
Book Gorilla permits
Other than hiring the Sedan chairs, guests are also required to book their gorilla permits earlier. Whether you plan to visit Uganda or Rwanda for mountain gorilla trekking, a permit is needed and each costs USD700 for Uganda. If you are visiting Volcanoes NP Rwanda for gorilla trekking, valid gorilla permits cost USD1500, and Congo gorilla permits are issued at USD400 per person.
Normal gorilla trekking takes 2-6 hours and it includes one hour of a magical encounter. The one hour applies to everyone on a trek to see gorillas whether you are a person with a disability or able-bodied. There are experienced parks to lead guests on a gorilla trek and during the one hour, he or she will explain to you the different behaviors of gorillas and also interpret the body gestures.
Where to stay / eat while on gorilla trip?
When choosing a safari lodge for your overnight stay, ensure that you find a facility that is friendly to persons with disabilities. There are basic, midrange and luxury lodges to consider for an overnight stay, and depending on your preferences, your tour operator will guide you on which lodge or camp to stay in.
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