What are the current costs of gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda?
What are the current costs of gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda? Mountain gorillas are endangered species that can only be trekked in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo, hence their popularity among tourists. The cost of a gorilla trek is highly determined by the cost of the gorilla permit in the respective countries. A gorilla permit is one of the most important legal documents given to tourists intending to go for gorilla trekking in Bwindi, Mgahinga, and Volcanoes National Park found in Uganda and Rwanda, respectively. Gorilla trekking permits are important in that almost 75% of the money received from the permits is used to protect the gorillas by conserving their natural habitat and keeping away the poachers.
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Gorilla trekking has been known to be an expensive exercise, starting with the permit cost. Purchased at least 6 months before the travel date, gorilla permits are the most expensive, depending on your gorilla trek destination. In this article, we are going to discuss the current costs of a gorilla trek in Uganda and Rwanda, but note that the cost of the safari can change at any time and all necessary changes we will be able to communicate on our pages.
1-day gorilla trekking safari………………………………………1100 USD
2 days gorilla trekking safari……………………………………..1300 USD
3 days gorilla trekking safari……………………………………..1450 USD.
The tour operators will each give you an independent quotation, and the above costs are estimated ranges. Luxury gorilla safaris can go as high as 4000 USD to 6000 USD.
Why is gorilla trekking expensive?
This is a question that is commonly asked by tourists and whether all the money paid is worth it. The answer is that the cost of a gorilla trek involves many costs, making it expensive, and yes, it is worth the time and money invested. Below is a breakdown of the cost of a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda and Rwanda.
The gorilla permit: A gorilla permit is a legal document given to tourists to gain access to the gorillas. The high cost of the permits is to help with the conservation of the endangered gorillas and their natural habitat, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Rwanda Development Board set the fee.
A gorilla permit in Uganda costs $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents and 250, 000 UGX for East African citizens. Rwanda’s gorilla permit cost is expensive, going for $1500 for foreign non-residents, $200 for East African citizens, and $500 for residents and citizens of other African countries. The cost includes ranger fees, Park entrance fees, and an hour with the gorillas and trackers.
Gorilla habituation permits, on the other hand, cost $1500, and it gives you 4 hours with the gorillas, unlike the one hour spent. Rather than just observing the gorillas for an hour, you get to accompany researchers training a gorilla family to get used to being in the presence of humans.
Rwanda and Uganda used to put discounts on gorilla permits during the low season to attract more tourists. There were also discounts right after the COVID pandemic, but the current cost is standard for all seasons. We can communicate on our page if there is a discount on the permits in Rwanda and Uganda.
Visa fees and crossing borders: Visa fees are not part of the permit fee and are paid by the tourists. An East African visa costs $100 and can take you to Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. For more information about Visas and entry fees, check out the Visas. Immigration.go.ug in Uganda and migration.gov.rw. For Rwanda. Tourists who wish to travel the 9 to 10 hours from Kampala to Bwindi and Mgahinga can travel from Kigali through Cyanika or Katuna (Visa is just $50).
Transport: The cost of transportation depends on your safari destination and the number of people you are traveling with. 4×4 safari vehicles are used for travel because they can easily endure the roads in both countries. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga, which take between 9 to 10 hours’ drive from Kampala. Even when you are using air transport, the airstrips Kihihi and Kisoro are a few kilometers away from Bwindi and Mgahinga. A safari vehicle will take you through the final journey on the dirt roads to the national parks, and this takes about an hour and a half.
A domestic flight from Entebbe to Kihihi or Kisoro Airstrip near Bwindi or Mgahinga costs about $40 but can go high, especially during the peak season. These daily domestic flights can connect you to Kibale National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is a 2 to 3 hours drive from Kigali International Airport.
If you are to travel independently, you can hire a safari vehicle at a cost that will depend on where you have hired it from. The tour companies charge different transport costs, so you should contact your local tour operator to see how much you will have to pay for the trek safari.
After booking and securing gorilla permits, the next step is to think about how to get to the national parks. There are two ways of getting to the gorilla trek destinations: air and road transport. Road is the most commonly used mode of transport because of the beautiful scenery. However, it is a long journey (to Bwindi and Mgahinga taking about 9 to 10 hours from Kampala) and 2 to 3 hours to drive from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park. Air tickets come at a different cost depending on the airline you are using, but it can range from $500 to $2500 per person. In cases where you do not want to drive, domestic flights in Uganda can be chattered in advance, and the cost depends on the season of travel. Tourists who prefer to first trek in Rwanda and then cross over to Uganda can drive through the Katuna or Cyanika border, this is a 4-hour’ drive to Bwindi.
Meals and accommodation: Accommodation in Uganda and Rwanda is categorized into three categories: basic, mid-range, and luxury accommodation facilities. Decent or basic accommodation for gorilla treks goes for as low as $100 to $350 per person per night, meals inclusive in Uganda, and can still go as high as $1500 per person per night in Uganda.
Rwanda is considered a luxury gorilla trekking destination; an average room can go as low as $1500 and as high as $15 000 per person per night with meals. All you need to know is that regardless of the budget you are traveling on, you will be able to get full-board accommodation that fits into your budget.
Gorilla lodges in Uganda and Rwanda are in remote areas with quiet jungles. You can get private luxurious treatment at the chosen facility with the right price and early booking. Before you book your trip, ask your tour operator what the accommodation cost covers. To break it down a little, it usually includes cultural entertainment, breakfast, lunch and dinner, soft drinks, house wines, coffee, and tea facilities.
Getting the right accommodation that you can afford should be your top priority, and one of the things that you should consider is the distance between the accommodation and the gorilla family trek route you have been assigned. Since the trekking begins early in the morning, you should get accommodation close to the gorilla trek’s starting point.
Souvenirs and personal shopping: You get numerous souvenirs from different shops, and the price depends on where you are shopping. There are, however, shops that have fixed prices for the different art and craft commodities, but make sure that you can at least bargain a little bit or do shopping with a local; otherwise, you might be overcharged.
Tips: These personal expenses add to the cost of a gorilla trekking safari. The tips differ, and although it is not a must, tipping is a polite way of saying thank you to the people who have helped you during the trek. You will need to tip the guides, staff at the lodge, and porters. The tips can range between $10 and $30. You will also find that some hotels and lodges have gratuity boxes for tipping the staff, and the amount tipped depends on the level of satisfaction you have received from the service providers.
The cost of the packing list items: As you prepare for a gorilla trek, some items should be included in your trekking list, and sometimes you might not have everything and need to purchase, increasing the cost. The packing list for a gorilla trek should include garden gloves, long-sleeved shirts and trousers in neutral colors, insect repellent, a rain jacket, a waterproof day backpack, a sun hat, energy bars and snacks, a water bottle (preferably refillable), strong hiking boots, a warm sweater, biodegradable toilet paper, wet wipes, thick socks, gaiters, a camera, flashlight, binoculars, extra batteries and lenses, sunscreen and sandals or sneakers for use after trekking. Read more about the perfect gorilla packing list in our article about packing lists.
The length of a gorilla safari: The cost of a gorilla trek in both countries is affected by the number of days you plan to spend on a gorilla trek safari. The more days you plan on spending on a gorilla trek safari, the more expensive it gets, and fewer days equal low costs. A minimum of 2 days in Uganda can cost between $970 and $1200 and $1350 per person for 3 days in Uganda and $1600 and $7000 in Rwanda, depending on the accommodation facility chosen and the tour company used. Note that the prices stated are estimates to show you what you will be paying if you go gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda.
The number of people in the trek group: The number of people you are planning on traveling with will also determine the cost of your safari. If you plan on traveling alone, then the cost of the safari will be high because of all the costs like accommodation, transport, and other expenses. But when traveling in groups of two or more, the costs are shared, reducing the cost of gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda.
Is there a way of reducing the cost of the gorilla safari?
Yes, there are several ways to reduce the cost of a gorilla trek. Although the reduction in the cost is small, it can make great significance in saving and having a budget-friendly gorilla trekking safari. Some of the things that you can do to reduce the cost of a gorilla safari include the following:
Traveling in large groups: Travelling in groups means you can share the costs of everything, reducing the safari cost compared to traveling alone, where all the expenses fall on one person.
Choosing budget/mid-range accommodation: Accommodation is key to having a good gorilla trekking safari, and one of the ways to travel at a low cost is by choosing budget-friendly accommodation.
Season of travel: Two seasons of travel is the dry season, also known as the peak season, which has large crowds of tourists. The cost of the safari during this time is high due to the high demand, but if you want to reduce the cost, the best time is during the shoulder, wet, also known as the low season, when discounts on accommodation are offered due to the fewer crowds during this period.
Organizing a gorilla trek in either country on your own and in an unfamiliar place is daunting. Many tourists get a registered local tour operator to help with accommodation booking, food, gorilla permits, and transport costs. After choosing the right tour company, consult and find out if they can book your international flights, but note that this comes at an extra cost. After all this has been catered for, the only thing you will have remained with is to show up and enjoy your gorilla safari without worry about transport, food, and accommodation.
Contact us for more information about gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda.