Travelers must meet several requirements in order to track mountain gorillas. These requirements for tracking mountain gorillas are primarily related to the fact that these giant apes are endangered, inhabit vulnerable natural habitats, and are closely linked to humans, making them more susceptible to infectious diseases.
The most recent mountain gorilla census conducted in 2018 estimated that there are currently 1,063 mountain gorillas, though it is possible that number has grown. More than half of these gorillas are located in Uganda. They are housed in two protected locations, the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and the impenetrable Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, where roughly 20 gorilla families have developed a full tracking habit. Mountain gorillas inhabit regions of southwest Uganda that are heavily forested, between 2500 and 4000 meters above sea level. While many tourists to Uganda dream of hiking and getting up close and personal with mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, not everyone is able to fulfill this desire due to eligibility requirements.
A tourist or traveler must meet the following requirements for tracking mountain gorillas:
You should have a valid gorilla permit
A gorilla permit is your pass for tracking the mountain gorillas in their natural habitats and without it, there is no way you will get a chance to achieve your lifetime dream. These permits have to be booked at least 6 months in advance to avoid last-minute disappointments. For the 20 habituated gorilla families in Uganda, Uganda Wildlife Authority issues only 160 gorilla permits each day.
You should have good health
Being of good health is another condition for tracking mountain gorillas in Uganda and in this case, travelers have to be free from air-borne sicknesses such as Measles, Flu, COVID-19, Cough, Tuberculosis, and many other air-borne diseases. This is because these Apes are susceptible to communicable diseases, owing to the fact that they are 98.2% related to humans.
You should be of the right age
Being of age, which means you should be at least 15 years old, is one of the requirements that travelers must meet in order to track mountain gorillas in any of their native habitats in Uganda. Why is it the case? A small child may find it difficult to manage the steep slopes and high heights of 2500 to 4000 meters above sea level during mountain gorilla trekking, which increases the likelihood that the rest of the group would lag behind. Second, young children find it challenging to follow directions given during the briefing prior to going on a mountain gorilla tracking expedition. Furthermore, there is probability that a kid will scream when they see these Apes or when a silverback charges.
You should be physically fit for gorilla trekking
Another condition for tracking mountain gorillas in Uganda is being physically fit for this adventurous once in a lifetime activity. Mountain gorillas occupy areas of 2500 to 4000 meters above sea level, hence to find them needs hiking for several hours, which is only possible for someone who is physically fit. You do not have to necessarily be a mountain climber to trek these Giant Apes but rather do simple exercises like climbing steps, hills, jogging, and biking. While gorilla trekking is for only the physically fit travelers, also travelers with reduced mobility are offered a chance to trek mountain gorillas, with the option of sedan chairs that can be hired at a price range of $300 to $500 pp.