A Blog Writer Asked if Gorilla Trekking in Uganda or Rwanda – is it really worth it? Our Answers
Our Answer is a resounding yes ” Gorilla Trekking in Uganda or Rwanda – is it really worth it” – ask the Thousands that Trek Gorillas each year.
Yesterday I read a blog written by a man(FynBos Guy) titled “Gorilla Trekking in Uganda or Rwanda – is it really worth it? We could not resist responding
The Fynbos Guy ( South African who never has come near the Mountain Gorillas in South Africa- there are none) thought that Gorilla Tracking was not worth the money, time and effort. He had never tracked the gentle giants of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda or Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and was making a judgment based on preconceived ideas, some of them wrong-his blog however motivated us to write a response to his various points.
Below is an excerpt – actually most of his blog but the beginning paragraph which is not related to Gorilla Tracking – I thought it was well written with a nice touch of humor, he expresses his opinions very well, but most who have visited the Mountain Gorillas of Uganda would disagree with him.
And I feel much the same about gorilla trekking: although I’ve never done it, I’d really, really, need convincing that the costs, discomforts and effort of seeing mountain gorillas in the wild are worth it.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not arguing against the protection of the critically endangered gorillas and of course believe that both they and their equally threatened habitat should be preserved and defended. But why do we have to spend a fortune to go slipping through the deeply unwelcoming rainforest to them?
So what are my gripes?
Firstly, it costs a truck load of cash. The permit to actually go and see them will set you back $500 and that’s before the flights transfers and accommodation. I just don’t have that kind of money. (Maybe that’s why I’m so grumpy about it.)
Secondly, despite all this money you’re flinging all over the place, you only get to spend an hour with the gorillas. An hour! I spend more time than that in traffic every day. And you can’t even go if you’ve got a cold or a sore throat.
Then there’s the discomfort. Ever been in a rainforest? I have, and it doesn’t take long to work out why they’re called rainforests. It’s wet and gloomy and mildewy and full of biting, buzzing insects. The paths are mud slides, the humidity unbearable and the heat sapping. Give me a mild and breezy savannah any day.
And then there’s the moral question. How’d you feel if a party of sweaty apes suddenly burst uninvited into your house and started taking photos while you were having a nap or sitting on the toilet? Thought so. It’s a wonder the gorillas don’t tear their unsolicited human visitors limb from limb – I would, and I’m a gentle natured guy. No, I am, really. (From gorilla-trekking-is-it-really-worth-it? written by Dominic Chadbon aka The Fynbos Guy )
Let me try to give you the realty regarding Gorilla Tracking or Trekking as the Fynbos Guy puts it and start with the simple Question – are the thousands of visitors to Uganda, Rwanda, disappointed after spending one hour with the Mountain Gorillas?
The Fynbos Guy wrote a great and humorous article – I enjoyed it and it provoked me to write about the above – some who have never visited the Mountain Gorillas might even agree with him – those who have visited them and some actually visit them twice – two days in a row – they are simply in awe of what they have experienced and all the efforts, the truckload of cash, the discomfort of a long hike dissipates like a vapor into thin air – it is the unforgettable experience of visiting the Mountain Gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda or Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
Answering the Fynbo Guy’s objections to “Gorilla Trekking in Uganda or Rwanda – is it really worth it?”
Truckload of Cash:
The cost of a permit presently is 600 USD in Uganda (450 during April- May -November (750 USD in Rwanda for permits) – a lot of money, yes, but as I wrote in a blog page recently – that 500 USD pays for many things, including the protection and conservation of the endangered Mountain Gorillas which are actually growing in numbers at the rate of 3.7% a year, in part due to the 600 USD or as I call it – Track for Cash.” One must also consider that the local communities benefit directly from the 600 USD permit fee since they receive a portion of it.
The 600USD Permits in Uganda and 750USD permits in Rwanda pays for the Habituation of the Gorillas which takes up to two years, the local communities are educated to see the benefits of protecting the Mountain Gorillas since they bring them much needed finances that underwrite the costs of various community projects.
600USD or 750 USD permits is a lot of money but see it as an investment in the survival and protection of the Mountain Gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the surrounding communities including the original people of the forest – the Batwa Pygmy Community. It is the experience – that is above the price.
The lowest Gorilla Private 3 day Safari Price for two people we offer is over 1000 USD per person full board- Rooms en-suite – lunches on the long drive – and no one complains. In Rwanda is a shorter Drive but due to higher permit cost about the same price. Another option is that you fly into Kigale – go Gorilla trekking in Uganda and save money. It is only a 3 hour drive to the southern area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
You only get to spend an hour with the gorillas:
Very true, one hour with a Gorilla Group Family.
It is however a very magical, memorable hour, a once in a lifetime experience – the Mountain Gorillas of Uganda or Rwanda cannot be visited in any zoo in the world. They are simply not there, they have never survived in captivity – they are born free and can only live free and you can only visit them in their habitat such as the one in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Volcanoes National Park
That one hour is designed for the well-being of the Gorillas as they continue with their day – minimize the chance of infections such as colds, flu, measles and whatever else
. One cannot compare any other hour to a visit with the majestic Mountain Gorillas in Uganda or in Rwanda. That one hour is the experience of a lifetime and many track the gorillas more than once, some track them both in Rwanda and in Uganda.
You can’t even go if you’ve got a cold or a sore throat:
The rules are very strict – we had a client a few years back who came down with diarrhea and he informed his tour guide two days in advance that he could not go gorilla tracking since he did not want pass on his illness to the mountain gorillas – we were able resell his permits and he was refunded the money for the per permit.
The rules are in place for the protection of the Mountain Gorillas and were laid out after much research, input from the Gorilla Doctors who make forest calls and and even surgery in the forest. One is dealing with an endangered species and rules are there to protect them.
The well-being of the Mountain Gorillas is on most everyone’s mind and that is the way it should be. It is all about conservation and not just tourism, tourism pays for conservation.
There is also research ongoing by organizations that attempt to ascertain whether there are any new disease threats that can be passed on by the Mountain Gorillas to Humans.
Then there’s the discomfort. Ever been in a rainforest?
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is an ancient rainforest that is incredible beautiful – the hikes to and from where the gorilla group is located including the hour with the gorillas can be five to six-hour in total – some days in may take all day.
Discomfort – one can contribute to the local community and hire a porter who will be able to put more things on his table for his family, one can take the easier hikes and visit a group in the Buhoma area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest of those offered Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. One can also go Mountain Gorilla Tracking in the dry seasons of the year where the trails are not so muddy.
Discomfort – people are tired when they return from Gorilla Tracking but one could say – good tired – it was well worth it. Unbearable humidity – we are not talking of the lowland jungles of the Congo, but we are talking Mountain Gorillas – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and even higher altitudes of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda
Discomfort – the walks can be strenuous but no one complaints about the experience of visiting the Mountain Gorillas which far outweighs the so-called discomforts.
And then there’s the moral question. How would you feel if a party of sweaty apes suddenly burst uninvited into your house and started taking photos while you were having a nap or sitting on the toilet?
The Mountain Gorillas are habituated which means that they are used to humans coming to visit them – for the most part they simply go about their daily affairs.
No flash pictures are allowed, no loud talking and definitely no mobile phones – one of the only times one of the gorillas reacted was when someone used a flash and made a lot of noise and a silverback charged him – normally there is no disturbance, they are used to humans and it is only for one hour.
Yet that hour is one of the most memorable time in the African Wild… of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla park in Uganda.
No Mountain Gorilla is going to enter your house, they might enter the lodge compound where you are staying, that is always to the delight of the guests staying there.
Do remember that you are only one hour with the Mountain Gorillas.
Another reason why Gorilla Tracking is well worth it – Uganda has the lower price – especially during off-season:
If you still doubt that gorilla tracking is worth it, here is another reason why it is. Half-Price Permits over Rwanda at 350 usd. Uganda offers 350 usd permits during the months of April – May – November that is 450 usd – 300 usd less than in Rwanda
This is a substantial savings – add on top of that the discounts that many lodges offer during the off-season and you have just saved hundreds of USD per person.
It is time to plan to visit Uganda during the Gorilla Permit Promotional Months of April, May and November.
We offer many different types of Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda and Rwanda – including the during the off-season months with discounts area affordable in price.
Where is it is better to track Gorillas – Rwanda or Uganda – here is a comparison.
If you have any questions about Gorilla Trekking – Please ask us.
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