Why Is Gorilla Trekking Cheaper in Uganda Compared to Rwanda?
There are several reasons gorilla trekking in Uganda is cheaper compared to Rwanda, including:
- The price of a gorilla permit in Uganda and Rwanda
- Budget for promoting tourism in Uganda and Rwanda
- Location of gorilla trekking National Parks
- Number of habituated gorilla families in Uganda and Rwanda
- Cost of accommodation and other factors
- Other tourist activities other than gorilla trekking
Most Popular Safaris
The top reason is the price of a gorilla permit in Uganda to see gorillas in Bwindi and Mghinga, currently at USD$ 800. At the same time, Rwanda costs USD$1500 per person per trek. This is the factor that makes Uganda a cheaper gorilla trekking country compared to Uganda.
Another reason Rwanda is a more expensive gorilla trekking country is that it has positioned itself as a luxury destination to attract top-notch tourists. That’s why most new lodges around volcanoes National Park and all parks in the country are high-end properties costing more than $800 per person per night.
Rwanda has a high budget for its tourism activities through international campaigns like Visit Rwanda on the Arsenal football shirts, which is a costly advertising. Uganda, on the other hand, invests less in international advertising campaigns.
Another reason why there are disparities in the prices of gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda is the budget and effort put in by respective governments. Rwanda aggressively advertises herself with a big budget. As a result, it can afford to raise the prices of accommodation and gorilla permits yet attract tourists.
On the contrary, Uganda only assigns a small budget to promote its gorilla tourism but resorts to positioning itself as an affordable country for gorilla trekking.
Location of gorilla trekking National Parks in Uganda and Rwanda plays an important role in determining the expensiveness or cheapness of these two countries. Gorilla trekking locations in Rwanda are closer to the airport than in Rwanda. This is one of the reasons why tourists prefer Rwanda to Uganda.
Uganda has more gorilla families open for tourism, currently 19 gorilla families, which means Uganda offers more permit chances compared to Rwanda, which has about 15 gorilla families.
In Uganda, there are many tour operators compared to Rwanda. The competition between Uganda tour operators makes a gorilla trekking package much cheaper since each of them wants to attract the same client by cutting the price down. This is different with Rwanda, where tour operators are few.
Lodges in Volcanoes National Park and Kigali are much more expensive than those in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This makes the total cost of a gorilla trekking package in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park in Uganda much cheaper than in Rwanda.
That said, it is important to appreciate that gorilla trekking prices in both countries vary depending on seasons and availability of services. Don’t hesitate to contact Encounter Africa safaris for details on this.
It is also one of the ways Rwanda gets money to support its wildlife conservation fund with limited sources of cash. Uganda has a variety of tourism activities where it can collect from money to support its conservation campaigns.
The roads from Kigali airport to Volcanoes National park are in better condition for tourists taking a road trip. They are fully tarmacked roads, so the road work expenses must be compensated with the high safari cost. In Uganda, the roads from Entebbe Airport to Bwindi impenetrable National park are more bumpy and slippery at times, but to make up for this and attract more tourists, the prices of gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda are slightly lowered
The Uganda gorilla trekking permits for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are sold according to the area. This is because of the vast size of this forested national park which is about 327 square kilometers. The Uganda wildlife Authority decided to subdivide the administrative roles of this park into areas so that all are fully supervised. Unfortunately, a long distance separates these areas, and you may need to drive a long distance to access them.
Uganda has more activities that tourists can combine with gorilla trekking to feel the beauty of an African safari. Some of these activities include game drives, lunch trips, chimpanzee trekking, visit to the source of River Nile, white water rafting, cultural experiences, religious destinations, and much more. By lowering the gorilla safari cost, tourists can explore other fascinating Uganda safari destinations.
Where To Do Gorilla Trekking In Uganda
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
This vast biosphere reserve is home to almost half the mountain gorillas. The forest is one of the refugee points for fauna, and flora that survived the ice age period over 30000 years ago is one of the unique natural destinations.
Currently, Bwindi impenetrable National park is believed to be home to over ten primate species, including chimpanzees, mountain gorillas, blue monkeys, L’Hoest’s, Black and white colobus, olive baboons, vervet monkeys, and others.
More than 51 reptiles, 310 butterflies, an array of birds so far, about 350 bird species counted, and others. The significant number of great forest dwellers is attributed to the broad altitude range of 1447 meters to create habitats ranging from lowland forest to 1160 meters. It connects with Afromontane vegetation about 2700 meters. Even the time that the forest has existed matters where it survived the ice age period.
More than half of the mountain gorillas living in the world exist in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. About 18 gorilla families have fully been habituated and opened for tourist viewing. Some include the Rushegura gorilla family, Mubale gorilla family, Oruzogo gorilla family, Bitukura gorilla family, Nkuringo gorilla family, Bweza gorilla family, and others.
Mgahinga Gorilla Family
Mgahinga National park is a mountainous park in the southwestern part of Uganda. This is the smallest national park in Uganda, hosting only one gorilla family called the Nyakagezi gorilla family. This gorilla family was known for meandering into Rwanda, and even its gorilla permits were sold upon availability. Of late, this gorilla family has been steadily living in Mgahinga National park, and its permits can be prebooked.
Mgahinga National park lies on the southern slopes of three distinctive volcanoes called Mountain Gahinga, Mountain Muhavura, and Mountain Sabyinyo. One can take a return hike for 8 hours to the top of one of these mountains. When you hike Gahinga National Park, you may have the chance to view the border of Uganda, Rwanda, and D.R.Congo at one point.
For incredible scenery, Mgahinga National park still has virgin vegetation and beautiful views because few people visit its environs.
Which Is the Best Country For Gorilla Trekking in Uganda And Rwanda
One needs to visit both countries to establish the difference in gorilla trekking experience between Uganda and Rwanda.
The difference between the two countries may come with other factors like
The number of gorilla families are open for tourism, where Uganda has about 19 gorilla families that have thoroughly been habituated. In comparison, Rwanda has about so far 15 gorilla families that are open for tourism.
The cost of Rwanda gorilla permits is $1500 per person per trek. In contrast, the Uganda gorilla permit costs $800 per person trek.
The drive time from Kigali Airport to Volcanoes National park is about 3 hours, while the drive time from Entebbe Airport to Bwindi Impenetrable National park or Mgahinga National park is about 8 hours to 9 hours.
The briefing point for Volcanoes National park is more well set than the Uganda side for a briefing that still needs improving. All this must be done to attract tourists or lower the gorilla safari cost.
What Is Included in the Gorilla Trekking Permit cost for Uganda and Rwanda
The gorilla permit cost for Uganda is $800 per person for foreign non-residents tourists, $700 per person for foreign residents, and 300000shs for East African Residents
Rwanda gorilla trekking permits cost is $1500 for foreign non-residents, $1000 for foreign residents
The price of Gorilla trekking permits includes
The Ranger guide Fees
A ranger guide knowledgeable of the wilderness’s happenings escorts every gorilla trekking session. He explains in detail what is happening in the wilderness and spares some time to research the mountain gorillas. A very informative ranger guide is what every tourist wishes to follow. However, no one wants a dull and none informed guide.
Every tourist is supposed to pay park fees to support the conservation campaign of the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The cost of gorilla permits, this cost is included.
Gorilla doctors use the mountain gorilla medication fund to treat injured mountain gorillas. They deserve help where necessary, like when snares injure them. Sometimes, the gorilla doctors do routine general checkups to establish the health status of the mountain gorillas. This all requires funding.
Gorilla habituation and Research
At times, mountain gorillas must be habituated to create new gorilla trekking families. This process requires funding. Even some researchers who go into the field to find out more about the life of mountain gorillas need financial support.
Local community support
The mountain gorillas sometimes stray into the local community, but to compensate for their damage, about 20 % of the annual proceeds accumulated from the sale of the gorilla permits is given to the local community. They use this to support the community projects like road constructions, water source building, hospital care, and so much more.
How Safe Is Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
The gorilla trekking area in Uganda is safe because of the vagrancy of the ranger guides in monitoring the national parks. Each day a group of ranger guides go into the forest to find out how the mountain gorillas are living and where they are expected to be that day. They provide this report to the concerned authorities.
The ranger guides also work with other Uganda security bodies to provide protection to the mountain gorillas and the people.
You also have to mind personal security by not eating street food which can cause food poisoning. This may prevent you from going for gorilla trekking as one with a communicable infection is advised not to go into the forest.
Never enter the forest without an escorting ranger guide. Those you encounter may not be great for you, like the dangerous forest elephants. It would be best if you had someone that could scare them off. Even getting lost in the wilderness is possible in case you are alone.
Refrain from counting large sums of money in public because you may attract the wrong people.
Self-drive when going for gorilla trekking in case you are s first timer; you may get lost. Using google Maps in Uganda may not work because the way is poorly labeled.
Bring the right gorilla trekking gear, like safari shoes and insect repellant, to be in the right place while in this forest. There are many biting nettles, too, so consider something that can cover your body from such surfaces.
Rules Of Gorilla Trekking In Uganda.
- All tourists are supposed to put on a mask when they go gorilla trekking is a must for all trekkers. In addition, ensure that you sanitize your footwear as a preventative measure decided on by Uganda Wildlife Authority to prevent spreading infections.
- When you locate the mountain gorillas, keep in a tight group you are trekking with. Avoid surrounding mountain gorillas when you encounter them. Try not to make them feel agitated by people around them, which may push them into hiding.
- Not raising your voice or Keeping a low voice is advised so as not to scare the mountain gorillas that are very conscience of intruders in their environment or other forest dwellers that are interesting to meet during gorilla trekking.
- No one with a communicable infection can visit the mountain gorillas because they are highly susceptible to flu, cholera, Corona Virus, Ebola, etc.
- Never use flash photography with mountain gorillas when taking photographs because they get scared of new occurrences in your presence.
- Littering in the forest is forbidden because it alters the nature of the forest where mountain gorillas thrive.
- If you need to sneeze or cough, do it away from the mountain gorillas or in your elbow so as not to spread infections to the mountain gorillas.
- If you wish to smoke or eat, do it at least 300 meters from the mountain gorillas because they may be forced to grab and eat it. This is because mountain gorillas are wild animals that must find food.
- The age limit for gorilla trekking is 15 years. This is because the time for locating the mountain gorillas has yet to be discovered. Therefore, these children may be unable to hike the slopes where the mountain gorillas may be lounging.
- The time you locate the mountain gorillas is limited to just one hour. Therefore, you must utilize it well to keep memories of your experience with the mountain gorillas.
- Provoking the mountain gorillas is forbidden because they may get agitated and go into hiding. They may be serene creatures, but they have feelings and mood swings.
- When you locate the mountain gorillas, leave a space of about 8 meters away to reduce any chances of passing an infection to them.
- If you wish to take along calls, all fecal materials must be buried about 30 centimeters deep. Ask the ranger guide to dig it and cover it well afterward beyond recognition. The mountain gorillas and other forest dwellers may wish to exhume this waste but cover it to prevent this.
- Avoid Spitting on vegetation which is food for the mountain gorillas. This is forbidden because this may contaminate the foliage on which mountain gorillas thrive. For regular trekkers, this is disgusting too and unhygienic.
For more information about booking Gorilla trekking tours in Uganda and Rwanda, Contact Encounter Africa Safaris by Email.