Mountain gorillas In Africa

Mountain gorillas are the second closes to the human DNA after Chimpanzees.

What are mountain gorillas?

Mountain gorillas are a sub species of the Eastern gorillas and are only found in East and Central Africa in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo and nowhere else in the world. Apparently, there are only four mountain gorilla parks in the world and these include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are found in Uganda whereas Volcanoes National Park is found in Rwanda and Virunga National Park is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Of all these parks, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the best when it comes to mountain gorilla trekking.

Of all primates, Mountain gorillas are the second closes to the human DNA after Chimpanzees. This is no far away from their actions and traits. Mountain gorillas are identified by their nose prints just like humans, are intelligent like humans and behave like us. At times, they even laugh at us and get angry. When they charge at humans, a sign of remorse can calm them down and keep them away from attacking you. So by trekking gorillas, you are trekking a species of apes that behaves somehow like us and have a lot of things in common with us.

There is a lot to learn about mountain gorillas and this opportunity is available only for clients planning to trek gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. This is none other than the Gorilla habituation experience. When you book a Gorilla habituation safari, you will spend a whopping four hours with gorillas instead of the usual one and also get to learn more about these gorillas and how they are habituated before they are made available for gorilla trekking. Mountain gorillas have to pass several stages that involve controlling their emotions before they can be tracked else they are more likely to be dangerous to clients. This is the very first step that Uganda Wildlife Authority takes to prepare these gorillas for exposure.

Cost of Tracking Mountain Gorillas in Africa

The total cost of gorilla tracking depends on a number of factors ranging from the choice of accommodation, country you are trekking gorillas from, the tours and Travel Company you are using, the trekking iterations you want, the duration of your trip, type of safari vehicle used, any special requests for gorilla trekking, the actual type of experience you want (could be gorilla habituation or gorilla tracking) among other factors. The most important cost of all is the gorilla permit cost as this is what unlocks everything. Without availability of a gorilla permit, it is very hard to determine which accommodation you will sleep in and plan the other aspects of the trip. So while you make further plans and research regarding the total gorilla safari cost, you should highly prioritize the gorilla permit fees.

As regards to accommodation, budget gorilla safari lodges cost more, mid-range gorilla trekking lodges cost average whereas luxury gorilla tour lodges cost a lot of money. Accommodation highly influences the final cost of gorilla tours as some lodges like Bisate Lodge in Rwanda cost over USD 2000 per cottage per night. This can highly impact on the final price of gorilla safaris especially if a client wishes to spend a couple of nights at the lodge. Regarding the trekking iterations, each gorilla trek requires a gorilla permit, so assuming you are to trek gorillas four times, you’ll need four separate permits for that.

As for duration of the trip, your gorilla trips get more expensive as it gets longer because each day in the timeline calls for meals, accommodation, transportation fees, guiding fees and activity fees (if any). Regarding transportation, land cruisers are charged higher than normal safari vans. If you intent to use a land cruiser (short or extended), you’ll realize a sudden increase in the total price of your safari.

Are gorilla permits refundable?

Gorilla permits are not refundable because the money goes towards the conservation of mountain gorillas. If you feel you may miss out on your gorilla experience, you may have to reschedule the permit to a later date when you are able to travel again. If you feel you may not travel again in a very long time, you may just have to forego the permit and help the gorillas. Foregoing the permit does not implicate it’s the government using your money. 80% of this money goes back to mountain gorilla conservation and about 10% goes to the community. Only a small percentage goes to the government body governing gorillas as they already make money from taxing the permits.

The best alternative to foregoing gorilla permits is to reschedule them to a later date. Gorilla permits may be rescheduled only once but can be rescheduled twice in case the country goes through an epidemic or pandemic like COVID-19. Such measures are usually come up with by the wildlife governing body of the respective country. During the Covid-19 period, clients are advised to postpone their safaris so as to maintain the validity of their respective gorilla permits. Uganda Wildlife Authority was allowing up to two reschedules for a two year time-frame.

In case of any missed or delayed flights, clients have to communicate to their tour operator and send evidence of the delayed or missed flights along so that the tour operator can contact Uganda Wildlife Authority and do a quick reschedule for your permits. This is actually one of the advantages of using a trusted tours and travel operator to manage all aspects of your booking. It helps in case any uncertainty arises as they are always on ground. So before you book your gorilla trip, you should know that permits can only be rescheduled and not refundable.

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