Uganda Increases rates for Gorilla Trekking to $700. Uganda Wildlife Authority has increased the amount of money to be paid by tourists for permits to track mountain gorillas. The permits have been increased from $600 to $700 for foreign non-residents and $500 to $600 for the foreign residents. The permit fees for East Africans have however not been increased.
The increment, which takes effect on July 1st, 2020, comes after four years, with the last increment in 2014. Many tourists travel to Uganda, to track the gorillas that are found in the four sectors of Rushaga, Ruhija, Buhoma, and Nkuringo in Bwindi Impenetrable National park and Mgahinga national park in South Western Uganda. Uganda is home to half of the world’s gorilla population. They are the biggest tourist attraction in Uganda and have impacted the tourism sector greatly, especially financially, due to the many numbers of tourists that come into the country to track them.
The increment in gorilla trekking permits in Uganda comes two years after neighboring Rwanda increased the cost of the permits to track gorillas in their national park in 2017. They were increased from $750 to $1500 for all nationals. In Rwanda, gorillas are found in Volcanoes National Park and the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo where gorillas are found in Virunga national park and in Kahuzi Biega National Park with unique Eastern lowland gorillas the permits cost $400 per person for foreign nonresidents and also offer gorilla trekking permit discounts in the low season to $200
According to Uganda Wildlife Authority, a tourist intending to track gorillas has to book the permit four to six months before the tracking date, given the competition and scarcity of the gorilla trekking permits. Uganda has fourteen gorilla families in the two national parks of Bwindi and Mgahinga. Each gorilla family can be visited by a group of only eight people each day for only one hour in the presence of the mountain gorillas. The gorilla trekking permit is only valid for the day it is issued which therefore requires a visitor to sleep near the park headquarters so as not to be late for tracking which is always done in the morning. To be able to be issued a permit to track gorillas, the tourist has to be fifteen years and above.
The gorilla trekking permit fees were increased in order to earn more money from gorilla tourism, which is the biggest contributor to the entire tourism sector in Uganda, competition of the gorilla trekking permits due to the increment of Rwanda gorilla trekking permit especially during the peak season of January, February, June, July, September and December. This increment will also go a long way in improving the livelihood of the communities neighboring Mgahinga and Bwindi national park, since they receive 10% from each permit sold, under the Revenue Sharing Programme. This revenue has seen communities start several projects, aimed at alleviating poverty, encourage the people to be part of conserving the gorillas and reduce human-wildlife conflict, like poaching and encroaching on parkland.
How to get a Gorilla Trekking Permit in Uganda
A gorilla trekking permit can be acquired directly through Uganda Wildlife Authority head offices in Kampala by contacting them through the email or calling the office.
It can also be acquired through contacting a trusted tour operator like Achieve global safaris with the date, month and year when you want to track the mountain gorillas in Uganda, the company will check availability of the gorilla trekking permit and inform you, you will pay 100% of the gorilla trekking permit before arrival and send the scanned passport details which are needed by Uganda Wildlife Authority in order to print and issue your gorilla permit. All those who would like to track gorillas should book their permits at $700 with Achieve global safaris before the next financial year when the increment will begin.
Gorilla Trekking Experience in Uganda
Uganda has half of the mountain gorillas in the whole world and they are found in Bwindi national park and Mgahinga national park in south western Uganda. Bwindi impenetrable national park is a home of 14 habituated Gorilla groups which are found in 4 sectors of Buhoma, Ruhijja, Rushaga, and Nkuringo with four groups available for tracking each day including Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, and Nkuringo. Each group is tracked by a maximum of 8 members per day and spends 1 hour in the presence of the gorillas in their natural habitat taking photos, videos among others, there is also a gorilla habituation experience that is carried out in Rushanga and Nkuringo sectors with 2 habituation gorilla families. Gorilla habituation activity is more interesting in that the visitors spend more time of 4 hours with the gorillas compared to 1 hour during gorilla trekking and the permit costs $1500. Mgahinga national park is a home of 1 habituated gorilla family Nyakagezi which is tracked by visitors.
Gorilla trekking experience can be carried out anytime throughout the year and apart from Uganda, Gorilla trekking is also done in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and in the Democratic Republic of Congo it’s done in Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park.
The $100 increment of permits to track mountain gorillas in Bwindi and Mgahinga National parks in South Western Uganda, which will start at the beginning of the next financial year, is aimed at increasing the amount of revenue the country collects from the tourism sector, which revenue is in turn used for developing the county’s different infrastructure like roads, which directly impact on tourism.