What is the cost of gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda? Why is gorilla trekking very expensive? Gorilla tracking is among the most exciting wildlife activities in the world. Gorilla trekking experience is much different from game viewing in Murchison falls national park, queen Elizabeth national park, Serengeti national park or Akagera National Park. Gorilla trekking is very unique because mountain gorilla look and behave like humans in fact they have 98% human DNA. The gorillas live in families with leaders where the dominant silver back heads everything in the group. What makes gorilla trekking expensive is that these animals are endangered, rare and people always want to see them. The increasing number of the tourists who want to see these endangered mountain gorillas has forced the government to increase the gorilla trekking permits. And from the government decision, we can say that the principal of demand and supply is being applied here and it states that the higher the demand, the higher the price. But demand is not the only reason for the increase in prices of gorilla permits. The money is needed to protect the primates.
Gorilla conservation requires serious investments in research, rangers and scientists and all this needs enough money. Part of the money collected from selling gorilla permits are channeled towards the protection of other primates. To be clearer, 10% of money collected goes to local communities, 15% to the government and 75% to gorilla conservation. It’s better to know that if the gorilla permits were cheap that would mean more tourists would be coming in to the parks hence affecting the overall well-being of habituated mountain gorillas. In Africa, gorilla trekking can only be done in 3 countries that is Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo. In DR Congo mountain gorillas can be trekked in Virunga national park, Uganda in Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and in Rwanda gorillas can be trekked in volcanoes national park.
Each country has different gorilla trekking permit prices. It’s good to know that the cost of a gorilla trekking permit is just a fraction of the overall cost of gorilla trekking. You still have to consider the accommodation, transportation, food, packing list, porters, tips for guides, VISA and ticket. The following articles will be talking about each of the above and we are sue by the end of this we will have answered the following
How expensive is gorilla trekking?
What is the cost of gorilla trekking?
How much does a gorilla safari cost?
You need to buy a gorilla trekking permit if you are planning to trek gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda or Tanzania. A gorilla permit is a document offered by a body that governs national parks allowing any traveler above 15 years of age to trek mountain gorillas. The cost of a single permit per person per day in Uganda is USD 700, in DR Congo its 400 and Rwanda has the most expensive permit going for USD 1500. If you are a national of any of the east African countries you only pay 300,000 UGX. In times of low season, the gorilla permits tend to be cheaper and in Virunga National Park in DR Congo the permits go for 250 USD, Uganda and Rwanda don’t have discounts for the gorilla permits. For those who want to experience gorilla habituation in Bwindi impenetrable national park you will have to pay USD 1500 for a permit. Gorilla habituation experience is far different from gorilla trekking and this is because habituation involves a whole day staying with these endangered primates. A gorilla permit is a document allowing you to trek gorillas. You cannot be allowed to trek gorillas without showing the permits to the park authorities. What is included in the gorilla permit? A gorilla permit includes being with gorillas for an hour, ranger fees, entrance fee and advance trackers.
To book a gorilla permit, its better you use a trusted tour operator or the government authorities in charge of the particular country of interest. In Uganda, Uganda wildlife authority is responsible for issuing of gorilla permits, Rwanda development board for the case of Rwanda and if you want to trek gorillas in DR Congo you will have to book a permit using the Virunga national park website or through any trusted tour operator. It’s advised to book gorilla permits 2 months before the final day of the activity in order to plan accordingly and also avoid inconveniences. If you are planning to trek gorilla it is better you book a permit 5 or 6 before to avoid stress of asking different tour companies if there is availability of permits.
One of the first things to consider while planning a gorilla tour is accommodation. All parks with gorillas have best hotels ranging from luxury to budget to mid-range where you can spend a night or two. The choice of accommodation depends on how much money you have. Luxury hotels cost $300-$2500, budget hotels $50-$100 while mid-range hotels cost $150-$100 and all this is per night. You can book these hotels on your won or you can use any trusted tour operator. The disadvantages of booking your own self a hotel is that you might book a hotel far from the starting point of the gorilla sector or family and this means its better if you book with a trusted tour operator.
While travelling to Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo you must bear in mind the cost of food and drinks. The hotels provide these things but remember you need food and water while going out of the hotel. The cost of foods and drinks should at least be USD 40 everyday if at all you are travelling on your own. If you are trying to buy cigars and booze you should plan for higher money per day. If you are booking with a tour company you should not worry because everything is catered for.
Hiring a vehicle and plane tickets: after getting a gorilla permit and knowing where you will stay, the next thing that comes in your mind is knowing how you will access the gorilla parks. The air tickets to and from you country cost depending on your country of origin and where you are going. When you reach the country you want, hiring a car in Rwanda or Uganda costs about $70 each day minus the fuel and the driver. You should expect travelling on the road for long hours most especially in Uganda and DR Congo because the parks are far from the city. From Entebbe international airport, it can take you about 8 to 10 hours to reach Mgahinga Gorilla Park or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. In Rwanda, driving to volcanoes national park takes you only 2 hours. Those who want to do gorilla trekking in Virunga national park will have to first land at Kigali international airport before proceeding to the DR Congo border and it can take about 4 hours.
In order to have the best experience while trekking mountain gorillas, you must travel with insect repellents, a good camera, hand gloves, hiking shoes, long sleeved cloths, binoculars for birders and a rain jacket. All these are hidden costs that should be taken into consideration after getting the gorilla permit.
Gorilla trekking sometimes involves crossing the borders between the 3 countries that is Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo. Those planning to trek gorillas in DR Congo, expect to cross Goma border at a cost of 100 USD for a visa. Those who want to trek gorillas in Uganda but they are in Kigali, they can use the boarder instead of first flying to Entebbe airport and taking 8 to 10 hours to reach Mgahinga Gorilla Park or Bwindi impenetrable national park by road. Crossing the border to come trek gorillas in Uganda costs USD 50 at Katuna or Cyanika border. You can also get an east African visa at USD 100 and this will allows you to cross to any of the east African countries.
You might see this not very important but it’s one of the key documents asked at any airport while crossing borders. If you are planning to travel to African countries, you must consider the cost of taking the shots.
Most especially these elderly: if you are traveling with heavy luggage such as bags, video cameras, water and other equipment, you will need to hire a porter to help you and carry them as you trek gorillas. Gorilla trekking for elderly is difficult because they need to sue sedan chairs and hire porters to lift them up while trekking. Hiring a sedan chair might cost you about USD 400 and the porters carry it. Porters live near the national parks and among them there are those who were once poachers. Other porters are students looking for money for education while others are men looking for money to feed their families. When you hire these porters you have contributed to their well-being. Hiring a porter is about USD 15 and you can get them during briefing.
Most of the times, the rangers, guides, hotel staff, waiters and waitresses do their best to make sure you have a perfect time and memorable experiences while on your safari. Out of courtesy, you can show your appreciation of work by giving them some tip. How much to give they depends entirely on you. Tipping during gorilla trekking is not a must and should only be paid after you a happy with the service rendered to you.
In conclusion all we can say it that the cost of a gorilla trekking safari depends on how many days you will spend doing an activity. A 1 day gorilla tour in Uganda can cost you about USD 970, 2 days gorilla tour in Uganda will cost you USD 1080 while 3 days gorilla will cost you USD 1350. If you are planning to trek gorillas in Rwanda, you must added USD 900 to the above prices because trekking gorillas in Rwanda is more expensive with a permit going for USD 1500. Luxurious gorilla tours cost between USD 1600 to USD 5000 and these prices do not include air tickets, tips and alcoholic drinks such as beer.
Travelling alone is a bit expensive because you have to pay transport, fuel and accommodation yourself. Remember it’s important to know that companies add on a markup of 10%-20% of the total cost to cater guides, office stuff and functionality.
One way to save on the gorilla costs is by trekking gorillas in cheaper destinations such as Uganda where a permit goes for USD 600-700 and DR Congo where a permit goes for as little as 400 USD.
Asking your tour operator to give you best budget lodges
Avoid travelling alone in order to share the costs of accommodation, transport and fuel
Travel in low seasons when less tourists are visiting the country because permits tend to be cheaper in that there are discounts on permits like for the case of Congo it goes for USD 250 and on hotels too.
You can also use public means to save costs but this is risky because you don’t know the time you will reach because buses in Kampala, Rwanda and DR Congo towns don’t leave in time and you are not sure of the routes to use.
Avoid using chattered flight with in the country of destination. Most of these flights are very expensive and this is so because a few local people travel with in the country using planes. The airlines charges tourists highly to compensate for a few local travelers that use the plane. Travelling using road transport takes long hours but gives you opportunities of exploring African countryside, beautiful scenery, landscape and the local people on the road sides.
Compare the costs from different tour operators. Don’t rush for the cheapest because you might end up paying more, go for a tour operator with the best quality services. The best tour operator must be able to cater for basic elements such as food, accommodation, fuel, car and water. Many tour operators promise the best but give you unexperienced drivers, poor accommodation so it’s better to ask a tour operator to show you the details of accommodation. Book with a tour operator that can give you the best accommodation out of the money you have. The accommodation is very important because it can make your trio memorable or pa bad one.
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