What are the advantages and disadvantages of gorilla tourism in Uganda and Rwanda?
The main gorilla tourism advantage in Uganda or Rwanda is mountain gorilla conservation. Yet the disadvantage is displacing the local people like the Batwa pygmies. Their lifetime history lies in the forest, where they were evicted for conservation reasons and left as squatters.
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What Is Gorilla Tourism?
Gorilla tourism is the act of getting closer to the gorillas, which are the only ones living in the entire world. Some ways to participate in gorilla tourism are through gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation.
Where To Do Gorilla Trekking Safari in Uganda
Bwindi Impenetrable national park
Bwindi Forest is Uganda’s largest home of mountain gorillas providing a haven to almost half the world’s mountain gorillas. Currently, the forest hosts about 19 gorilla families open for gorilla trekking and two more families available for Gorilla habituation.
This biosphere reserve is located in the southwestern corner of Uganda. The vegetation of this park tangles over a deep-fissured landscape of steep, slippery valleys and high draughty ridges. This results from a broad altitudinal range of 1447 meters
Forming habitats ranging from lowland forest at 1160 meters to Afromontane vegetation over 2700 meters.
Over ten primate species enjoy the freebies of this pristine forest, including the mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, black and white colobus, red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, L’Hoest’s, and others.
Keen birders may spot over 100 bird species from over 350 different bird species so far recorded to be living in this park. In addition, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has about seven bird species on the IUCN red list.
Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National Park is one of the small habitats of mountain gorillas, covering about 33—7 square kilometers of land. So far, one gorilla family called the Nyakagezi family is fully habituated and open for tourism.
Three distinctive volcanoes, mountain Gahinga, mountain Sabyinyo, and Mountain Muhavura, occupy its topography. With an 8 hours guided return hike to the top of any of these mountains, you can enjoy the superb views of Mgahinga National Park.
The park is home to other primates like golden monkeys, black and white colobus, vervet monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, and red-tailed monkeys.
For ornithologists, about 115 bird species have been recorded to be living in Mgahinga National Park, including Albertine rift endemics.
Volcanoes National Park
This is Rwanda’s only home of the mountain gorillas occupying the country’s Northwestern part. So far, the park has 15 gorilla families that are open for tourism purposes.
Several other primates live in this park, including golden monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, and others.
Birders on the Rwanda gorilla trekking adventure can grab a double opportunity of spotting numerous birds, including Albertine rift endemics. Volcanoes National Park has recorded about 300 bird species, some of which include Shelley’s Crimsonwing, Handsome Francolin, Kivu Ground Thrust, Alpine Chat, Malachite Sunbird, Rwenzori Turaco, and others.
A hike to the Dian Fossey Grave of the brave primatologist that defended the mountain gorillas to her last breath is worth every step.
What Are The Advantages Of Gorilla Tourism In Uganda And Rwanda
Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund Support
The conservation of mountain gorillas needs financial support, so part of this is accrued by participating in gorilla tourism.
You must purchase a permit for every gorilla trekking safari or gorilla habituation experience, including part of this funding. This money is used for gorilla research, buying medication, security, paying the ranger guides’ salary, park maintenance, and much more.
Protect Mountain Gorillas From Humans Invasion
The existence of mountain gorillas depends on human awareness about the importance of protecting these once highly endangered primates.
In the 1980s, a census indicated that about 300 mountain gorillas lived worldwide. These primates were at the rim of extinction. However, the zealous conservation of mountain gorillas is redeeming them; over 1000 are living in the world.
During the gorilla trekking, tourists and their porters understand why the mountain gorillas deserve to see another day. Although the mountain gorillas on the outside look scary, when you get closer to them, you realize how peaceful they are and do not deserve the hate laid upon them.
Daily, a group of rangers wakes up earlier than others to monitor where the mountain gorillas might have spent the night or where they are spending the day. This information is used by ranger guides leading tourists so that they can trace the way about the mountain gorillas.
The existence of mountain gorillas also indirectly supports the survival of other primate species living in the primary forest. Even humans attending gorilla tourism sessions learn why these primates’ habitat deserves protection.
Provide Local Community Support
Part of the money accrued from gorilla tourism per year is given to the local community to support their projects like water source maintenance, health care, road maintenance, and others.
With this, the locals, in turn, provide security for the mountain gorillas to receive more support because of their existence.
More Research has been carried out About Mountain gorillas.
Since the time of American primatologist Dian Fossey, much Research about mountain gorillas has been conducted. Dian Fossey set up the Karisoke Research Center after she arrived in Rwanda in 1967, where she did the first detailed Research about the life of mountain gorillas.
Her work is the bath of gorilla tourism, and since then, more Research has been conducted to understand more about mountain gorillas.
This information is used to educate the world about the unseen life of mountain gorillas and other forest dwellers. Most of those who participate in gorilla trekking or habituation say it is a life-changing moment when standing in front of mountain gorillas.
Several conservation organizations, both local and international, are joining hands in researching more about mountain gorillas, some of which include the gorilla fund, gorilla doctors, and others.
Chances Of discovering Other Potentials Of Virunga Area During Gorilla Tourism
Through gorilla tourism, other activities that can be done in either Bwindi forest, Volcanoes forest, or Mgahinga forest have been disclosed to the world.
One can do a primate walk in this forest, where you may see other primates like golden monkeys in Mgahinga or Volcanoes National Park, black and white colobus, chimpanzees in Bwindi forest, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkeys, and others.
Day’s Mountaineering Experience
Chances of a day’s guided hike to some of the mountains in the Virunga area were made possible with gorilla tourism. This area is volcanic, with some of the below mountains present: Mountain Gahinga, Mountain Sabyinyo, Mountain Muhavura, Mountain Karisimbi, and Mountain Bisoke.
Birding in Virunga Area
Whether doing gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda, you have a high chance of spotting various birds, including Albertine rift endemics.
If you are a keen birder on gorilla trekking or habituation safari, you may get a double chance of spotting some rare bird species.
Some of the birds in this area include Handsome Francolin, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, Alpine Chat, Dusky’s Turtle, Red-faced Woodland, Rwenzori Batis Flycatcher, Collared Apalis, Banded Prinia, Mountain and Yellow Steaked Greenbuls and others.
Local Community walks
Local communities have community projects that immerse tourists into their life and help them understand how locals live. At times tourists volunteer to support local projects too.
Some of the local community projects include
Buhoma community walk or Nkuringo Community Walk in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, where you may get to visit a local homestead, a local beer brewery, a traditional healer, a blacksmith, and others
Batwa Trail and Garama cave walk in Mgahinga National Park was conducted by the Batwa pygmies after they were evicted from the forest during the early 1990s for conservation reasons. This cave, about 342 meters long, used to be a retreat point for the Batwas after raiding the Bafumbira farmers.
At the moment, it provides an atmospheric setting for Batwa performances.
What are The Disadvantages Of Gorilla Tourism in Uganda and Rwanda
Opens the Wildlife habitat of the mountain gorillas To Humans
When humans go to the habitats of the mountain and other wild animals, they trample on the vegetation on which these animals feed. This reduces in there food supply; mountain gorillas are entirely vegetarian, so when you step on foliage, you reduce on there food sources
The use of Flashlights cameras disturbs the mountain Gorillas
If one uses flash photography when taking mountain gorilla photos during gorilla trekking or habituation, these primates may get agitated, disturbing their peace.
Mountain gorillas are naturally shy animals, so you may push them into hiding by staring into their eyes.
Spitting on vegetation may Pass Infections and Germs To The Mountain gorillas.
When you spit in the foliage or soil while searching for the mountain gorillas, you may spread a human infection to the mountain gorillas. The extent to which this infection spreads into the different gorilla families may cause their massive death. This is why you are prohibited from spitting in the forest.
The Local people around the Gorilla habitats are displaced From There Land
The local people lose their land to the expansion of the mountain gorilla habitats. Some of those that have failed are the Batwa, who depended on the forest in the past but currently have no ancestral homes.
Even the farmers that used to till the land around the National Parks have been evicted to create buffer zones for the mountain gorillas and other forest dwellers.
Even the mushrooming accommodation facilities around the gorilla habitats are leading to the loss of land for the local community.
How To Purchase Gorilla Trekking Permits
Select a date when you wish to do gorilla trekking, the country where to do gorilla trekking or habituation, and the number of permits you want to purchase.
If there is availability, we request our clients purchase their permits as soon as possible because they get sold out fast. The gorilla permits are limited to a maximum of 8 per family, yet the demand is so high worldwide.
Purchasing the gorilla permit is the only way to show commitment to the trekking safari.
We require you to provide personal details like your full name as indicated on the passport, nationality, date of birth, passport expiry date, and so much more.
Where Can I Purchase a Gorilla Trekking Permit?
The Rwanda Development Board is the selling and regulating body for Rwanda gorilla permits in Rwanda.
Uganda’s Development Board regulates and sells gorilla permits in Uganda.
You may directly purchase the gorilla permits from these bodies or contact a tour operator on the ground.
At Encounter Africa Safaris, we lift off the burden of searching for gorilla permits and organizing other safari components from our clients. Instead, we can reserve accommodation, hire vehicles, make a safari quotation on behalf of our clients, and so much more as requested.
How Much Is A Gorilla Trekking Safari In Uganda And Rwanda
The universal cost of gorilla trekking safari is the permits, whereas, in Rwanda, it costs $1500, whereas in Uganda $800 per person per trek. This cost cuts across all budgets- luxury, mid-range, or budget.
Other factors that make up the gross safari cost include:
The number of people traveling for gorilla tourism, either trekking or habituation.
The timing for booking the gorilla trek safari is low season or high season.
The number of days to spend on gorilla safari as service providers charge daily.
The number of other activities to combine with gorilla trekking, like chimpanzee trekking, game safaris, birding, and so much more.