GORILLA TREKKING FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN UGANDA & RWANDA
Gorilla trekking tours are described as one best tourism encounter anybody can experience while still on earth. However, mountain gorillas dwell in the Virunga highlands of Uganda, Rwanda and D.R Congo, making it a tedious and strenuous experience for most people, since it involves hiking through the jungles in the foggy and muddy slopes of this region to see these endangered species.
Specifically, persons with disabilities usually find this challenging or even impossible to be done; but with the increasing concerns and requests from these people, this has become history with the initiative of aiding the disabled and elderly enjoy a gorilla trekking safari in these countries.
A typical gorilla trekking safari in Uganda takes about 3-hour experience with one hour spent with the great apes. In Uganda, gorillas can be sighted in two national game parks namely the Bwindi Impenetrable Park and the Mgahinga National Park, while Rwanda has volcanoes national park and D.R Congo has both Kahuzi Biega national park and Virunga national park for lowland and mountain gorillas respectively. All destinations are characterised by thick jungles and steep terrain. The ranger guides usually go ahead to clear the thickets and bushes to make way for the group. This is still the same procedure for gorilla trekking for persons with disabilities. The special need individual is transported with either a special sedan chairs or a bamboo stretcher carrier.
The transport aids make ferrying the client easier up the mountain ranges and through the jungles. They have handles all round them which make it easier for handling the stretcher by the porters. A team of well bodied porters who are natives and have the best knowledge of the terrain of the area carry the individual. The carrier service comes at an extra cost of the $350 to $500 depending on the weight of person to be carried.
If you wish to be included for a special need safari, you will need to book a gorilla trekking permit in advance as any other traveller that is issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). A permit currently costs only $600 (high season) and $450 during the discounted period.
Rwanda still remains the most expensive destination for gorilla trekking expeditions, where a permit costs a staggering 1,500 $ making it more costly than her counter parts, Uganda and D.R Congo. Yes, Uganda still remains the most affordable destination for gorilla tracking safaris in Africa. This however doesn’t cut the experience as Uganda has the best authentic holiday tours and half of the great ape population calls the pearl of Africa home.
D.R Congo however stands out as the only destination with a variety, playing host to both Lowland and Mountain Gorillas, allowing visitors to trek both species and notice the differences. A gorilla permit to Kahuzi Biega and Virunga national park costs 400$, making it the cheapest option for gorilla trekking in this region.
Where to stay:
There are a number of lodges ranging from luxury / high end, midrange and budget that have options for people with disabilities and special facilities for wheel chair access.
A team of 12 energetic indigenous porters (who are familiar with the relief of this area) is assigned to carry a person on either the traditional bamboo carrier or the sophisticated sedan chair; however this depends on availability at the time of booking.