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Why is Gorilla Trekking so Expensive? Is Gorilla Trekking Worth It?

Uganda gorilla trekking

Why gorilla trekking is so expensive?/Why a gorilla permit is so expensive? It is because of the high costs of conserving the highly gorillas.

Approximately, about 75% of your gorilla permit fees go into conservation initiatives to protect the endangered mountain gorillas.

Here are the facts that make a gorilla safari quite expensive;-

The Gorilla Permit Price

Gorilla permits are certainly not cheap and cost of a gorilla trekking trip can quickly mount up with permit alone. Why a gorilla permit is so expensive? It is because of the high costs of conserving the highly gorillas.

Approximately, about 75% of your gorilla permit fees go into conservation initiatives to protect the endangered mountain gorillas.

Gorillas are endangered majorly because of;

  • Poaching; as they are often killed by traps set for other animals. Infact gorillas are also abducted for illegal selling to zoos and as pets. As results, other adult gorillas are killed in the process.
  • Habitat loss; which is the most severe threats to gorilla populations. The forests where mountain gorillas live are surrounded by rapidly increasing human settlement. Through shifting (slash-and-burn) agriculture, pastoral expansion, and logging, villages in forest zones cause fragmentation and degradation of habitat
  • Diseases; as gorillas are vulnerable to human diseases when they come into contact with humans. Mountain gorillas can even die from the common cold.

All these have resulted into increase in the gorilla permit price to raise the funds needed to protect these gentle mysterious apes through;

  • Frequent patrols in gorilla parks to destroy poacher equipment and weapons,
  • Census counts in regions of breeding and ranging concentration and
  • Strong safeguards for the limited habitat the animals occupy and other conservation activities.

Here is a table comparing the current gorilla permit prices in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo

Visitor category Uganda  gorilla permit price Rwanda gorilla permit price Congo gorilla permit price
Foreign Non Resident Visitors US$ 700 per person US$ 1500 per person US$ 400
Foreign Resident Visitors US$ 600 per person US$ 1500 per person       −
East African Citizens UGX 250, 000 per person US$ 1500 per person US$ 200
Congo citizens                 −              − US$ 20

Sustainable gorilla tourism

  • Also, gorilla trekking is expensive because the authority needs to get funds which can be used to conserve the shrinking mountain gorilla habitat for sustainable gorilla tourism.
  • This aimed at protecting the Mountain gorillas from getting extinct so that the future generation can also get a chance to witness these majestic creatures.
  • One way of ensuring this is by limiting visitor numbers by setting a relatively high price for the gorilla trekking permit, so as to discourage mass tourism.
  • In fact, if there is no limit on visitor numbers to the gorilla parks, there will be crowding, and pressure on the gorillas and their habitat, which can destroy their social happy life.

Improving the livelihood of the locals

  • Gorilla Parks in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo are surrounded by several communities. If there are no benefits that people from these communities get from the gorilla parks, they can destroy the habitats and even kill the gorillas.
  • Therefore the government has to share part of the revenue from gorilla tourism with the local communities through establishing infrastructure like roads, hospitals, schools, provide them with access to clean drinking water and empower them economically so that they realize the benefits of gorilla conservation.
  • In Uganda for example, local people are given 20% of the total revenue earned from gorilla permits. In Rwanda 10% of the gorilla tourism revenue is given back to the local communities.
  • This has a created positive attitude of local people towards the gorillas and the national parks. Before introduction of this, gorillas suffered a lot of poaching, and towards the end 1980s, mountain gorillas were on a verge of extinction.
  • Fortunately, there number is currently increasing and mountain gorilla is toady the only subspecies of gorillas with an increasing population.

Cost of accommodation in the gorilla parks

  • Besides the gorilla permit being expensive, high accommodation cost within the gorilla parks of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo also make the gorilla trekking tour so expensive.
  • Mountain gorilla parks are located in hill forest areas where it is not easy to establish accommodation facilities. Therefore, those who have manage to establish lodges and camps in these areas have to set prices a bit high to meet the operation cost, so that they can give the best possible services to the visitors.

The cost of reaching the national parks where Gorillas live

  • Gorilla parks in Uganda are located in remote areas, making transport cost to and from this park very high. For example takes about 8-9 hours to drive Kampala/Entebbe to Bwindi. If you are not interested in long drives you could take a scheduled flight to the park at an added cost of course
  • Also the roads in these areas require regular maintenance especially during wet seasons.
  • Many travelers who wish to trek gorillas always ask themselves whether is gorilla trekking worth it? / is gorilla trekking worth the money?  The answer is YES! and by look at the gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo reviews from past visitors on trip advisor, you will certainly add it to you next bucket list as the top most African safari adventure to undertake in your life time, even when gorilla trekking in Rwanda is a little more expensive as already noted the permit is at $1500
  • Those who have ever undertaken Uganda gorilla tours to see mountain gorillas rarely complain. Some travelers have even trekked mountain gorillas twice and just find the gorilla safari cost/price worth it or even cheaper or affordable. Many travelers even call it a life-changing experience. Uganda Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park to see the famous mountain gorillas of Uganda is something everyone should get to experience at least once in their lifetime.
  • All the discomfort and fatigue experienced during the strenuous gorilla trekking in Rwanda, Uganda or Congo disappears the moment you set eyes on the beautiful great apes-the gorillas. Mountain gorillas are endangered species which can only be seen in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo where they live in the wild.

You cannot find them in any zoo around the world. The amount you pay for a Gorilla Permit helps in the conservation efforts and research, building of infrastructure around the parks and the country, supporting the communities around Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park as well as payment of the park staff and rangers who protect the mountain gorillas.

In fact, ecotourism dollars they bring in now far exceed their former value as trophies and souvenirs sold by poachers.

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