Gorillas are the largest living primates. The DNA of gorillas is highly similar to that of humans, from 95 to 99% depending on what is included, and they are the next closest living relatives to humans after the chimpanzees and bonobos.
Gorillas are also very intelligent animals. A few individuals in captivity have been taught a subset of sign language and many researchers have reported that they also use tools in their daily lives. Additionally, gorillas can laugh, grieve, have emotional lives, develop strong family bonds, make and use tools, and think about the past and future. They have been shown to have cultures in different areas revolving around different methods of food preparation and will show individual color preferences. Researchers have gone as far as speculating that gorillas even have religious sentiments.
The total population of these magnificent mammals is estimated to be 1,004 individuals in two populations as of 2018. One population lives in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and the other in the Virunga Mountains in three adjacent national parks, namely Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mountain gorilla trekking is one is the most unique wildlife adventures, offering trackers a chance to hike so close – at just 7 meters to the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat and if you get lucky, a gorilla might walk up to you and touch you- out of curiosity or in a playful manner.
However, the adventure to meet up close with these human-like creatures doesn’t come cheap! Gorilla permits come expensive but absolutely worth the experience as the revenue collected from gorilla permits directly contributes to mountain gorilla conservation.
A gorilla permit in Rwanda today goes for $1500 Per Person per hour- whether citizen or non-citizen, while Uganda’s gorilla permit goes for $600 for one hour – Rwanda recently doubled their gorilla permit fee from $600 to $1500 in 2017 but Uganda maintained the permit at $600.
Uganda also offers a gorilla habituation experience which goes up to 8 hours with the mountain gorillas in Bwindi national park at $1500 Per person.
Regardless of your destination, Gorilla tracking is still expensive, but worry not, we have gathered a few tips to help you save up to 50% on your gorilla trekking package.
Start at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
From the subsequent paragraphs, it is no brainer that Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offers you a richer experience at a lower cost. In Uganda, a gorilla tracking permit goes for $600 per hour while that of Rwanda costs $1500 per person per hour. In fact, you could use the $1500 you would have used in Rwanda to buy Uganda’s gorilla habituation experience which goes up to 8 hours with the mountain gorillas in Bwindi national park. Giving you an opportunity to have immersion experience with these powerful creatures.
Additionally, 600 of living mountain gorillas live in Bwindi Impenetrable NP. The remaining population of mountain gorillas is found in the 3 national parks within the Virunga Mountains, that is, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in DR Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
Book in the rainy low season to get discount rates
If you can persevere the dumb rainy season which usually begins in April to May and October to December, then you can save over $100.
During this low business season, Uganda used to discount Uganda gorilla permit up to $450 per person BUT in 2019, Uganda discontinued offering discounts, citing the increased number of gorilla trackers since their competitor, Rwanda, had doubled their permit fee. Instead, you can save through accommodations and transportation from lodges and travel agencies during this low business season. Like Uganda, Rwanda does not offer discounts on their gorilla permits but still, their lodges offer discounts during rainy seasons.
Book as a group
Joining a group of travelers means the costs such as driver, guide, fuel, and transfer are shared. If you are traveling in groups, you have more bargaining power and you will surely save more money. If you are a solo traveler, look out for a travel company that organizes group tours and join them for a gorilla safari.
Seek discounts from airlines and travel agents
You could save a lot of money if you are willing to put in the effort. Consult tour companies, airlines and travel agent’s umbrella bodies such as the association of Uganda tour operators in Uganda, Kenya association travel agents or Rwanda tours and travel association.
Alternatively, some of the luxury high-end lodges tend to offer discounts or give free nights when you stay for more than 2 nights. Saving you money on accommodation.
Book from individual travel agency websites
Travel agency listing websites and umbrella bodies are a secure way to book your tours but that always comes at a hefty price. Most of them charge tour agencies up to twenty percent on every booking you make through their website. That extra cost is eventually extended to you as travel agencies add to the cost of their packages. For example, a safari package that costs $1900 on a travel agent’s website will most likely cost $2200 on safaribookings.com or Tripadvisor.
We understand how hard it is to trust individual travel agencies, especially if you have never worked with them. In fact, it is risky simply transferring money to them without doing due diligence. However, there is a way around this; A trustworthy and credible travel agency should be fully registered with their country’s tourism body and should have a valid business license. Before you pay them, ensure to ask for this information and ask them to defend it. Additionally, email or call their respective authorized agency bodies to confirm if this agency is authentic and authorized to operate.
Book your gorilla permit early at least 4-6 months in advance
In Uganda Mountain Gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In these areas, tracking takes place at 5 locations Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, Nkuringo in BINP and Ntebeko in MGNP. All locations combined give a total of over 18 Gorilla groups, however, the permit number is limited because only 8 people are allowed to visit a gorilla family per day for only one hour.
This means the availability of gorilla permits is very regardless of which country you choose. Booking early ensures you secure your gorilla tracking permit and is a secure way to avoid a sudden increase in accommodation and package prices.
In addition, operators take time to arrange every particular of your gorilla safari such as visas, air tickets, and yellow fever cards. With assurance, you can book online, decide a gorilla destination, make payments and get instant confirmations.
Go for a self-drive tour
Self-driving on your gorilla safari is a better way to save on transport costs. For instance, you’ll not have to pay for a driver or guide. Additionally, you can travel and enjoy your tour on your terms: You’re able to determine how long or little you can stay at places or attractions. However, this a self-drive tour is not ideal for a novice tourist as you should be well versed with route maps and the destination to avoid getting lost and for security reasons.
We hope this short post helps you save a few bucks on your gorilla tracking expedition. If you need any help or want us to plan your entire safari and or gorilla trekking trip, don’t hesitate to contact us on +256 750 212 865/ +256 772 212 865 or email at email@example.com