2018 – Where are Tourist Trekking Gorillas? Rwanda – Uganda – Congo?
Gorilla Trekking in 2018 – Permit Prices that are Causing Trekkers to choose new Destinations
The Winds of Change are blowing when it comes to Gorilla Trekking in 2018. May 6th of 2017 brought a volcanic eruption to Gorilla Tourism when permits shot through the ceiling as the Rwanda Development Board doubled its permit prices for Gorillas to 1,500 USD, not just for foreign visitors but also for Rwandans. Uganda held in the reins of temptation and permit prices remained at 600 USD and High-Risk Democratic Republic Congo Stayed at 400 USD for Gorilla Trekking.
The Rwanda Development Board proclaimed Rwanda as the Premier Upmarket Country in Africa for gorilla Trekking as the exclusive Bisate Lodge was about to open its doors while other luxury lodges wherein the works. Rwandan Media gushed with articles of Optimism predicting a rush of the rich, the wealthy to flock to Remarkable Rwanda paying 1,500 USD for Gorilla Permits and from 1,500 to well over 2,000 USD per night for lodging, even 15,000 USD for a totally Private Trek.
Gorilla Trekking in 2018 – Where is the African Traveler Trekking Gorillas in 2018? – To Shed light on the subject here is an excerpt from an article by Clement Uwiringiyimana,a correspondent for Reuters published on January 12 -2018.
Rwanda is keen to encourage tourists to see them, but tour operators and hoteliers say a government decision to double the price of trekking permits from $750 to $1,500 last year slashed visitor numbers. Akamanzi said Rwanda aimed to attract high-end tourists.
Philip Mason of Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, a high-end hotel in the town of Musanze, at the foot of volcanoes where gorillas live, said ticket sales were down 30 percent.
But budget facilities and tour operators have been harder hit.
“I have a 14-room hotel but I don’t have more than five tourists per week,” said Eric Twagirimana, owner of budget Buffalo mountain lodge. “The government shouldn’t have taken this decision without consulting us.”
Tour guide Gilles Mugabe said visitors were instead going to Uganda and Congo, where prices were lower.
Add to that the ever increasing of the number of Rwandan Tour Operators who are bringing their clients to Uganda for Gorilla Trekking while other Rwandan and Ugandan Tour Operators have added Gorilla Trekking in the Congo to their Safari Offerings. (For Safety and Security Reasons we do not)
It is too early to count Rwanda out as the leading country for Gorilla Trekkers. It has almost magically come up with new ways of pulling the rabbit out the hat such as the British Premier League Arsenal having Visit Rwanda on their Uniforms and Ellen Degeneres visiting and endorsing Rwanda. and Rwanda has not changed its tune by even a note. At the same time, African Travellers are looking at all of their options which has led to what we call “the Great Trekker Migration to Uganda in 2018.”
Gorilla Trekking in 2018 – The First 6 months – The Great Migration of Gorilla Trekkies continuous from Rwanda to Uganda. Rwanda continuous to receive accolades and praise in published articles and Uganda keeps getting the Trekkers who want to save 900 USD on Gorilla Permits or take advantage of the 1,500 USD permit Gorilla Habituation Experience which is 4-hours with a Gorilla Family on an all-day Trek.
Rwanda markets itself as the Luxury Gorilla Trekking Destination, a sort of Nordstrom of Gorilla Tourism, Uganda has become by default the highly successful T.J. Maxx for Gorilla Trekkers and whether they are people of means or not, they are heading for Uganda in record numbers leading to a shortage of permits during the summer high season.
The Gorilla Habituation Experience has been praised in several luxury travel magazines in recent months causing many to choose the Gorilla Habituation Experience even though the permit price is 1,500 USD. Unfortunately, only a select few can do since presently there are only 4 permits per day compared to 136 for Gorilla Trekking. This may change in the near future
Gorilla Trekking in 2018 – Permit Prices for Rwanda – Uganda D.R. Congo
Rwanda is experiencing a temporary downward trend among Gorilla Trekkers:
When it comes to Gorilla Trekking, Rwanda exceeds Uganda and the Democratic Republic – Congo for getting the best press coverage. It has so many good points such as an arrival airport that exceeds most other African Airports rated number 2 in Africa. Easy access to Volcanoes National Park.
It was the favorite country among Gorilla Trekkers, International Travel Tour Companies, and the International Press. Its greatest boost has come from the movie “Gorillas in the Mist.” A follow-up on Dian Fossey’s life is about to be released.
Why then a downturn in Gorilla Trekkers? Call it Sticker Shock, 1,500 USD makes Gorilla Trekking the most expensive Tourism activity in Africa. Rwanda was not just a Gorilla Destination for the Well to do but for mid-range and budget Travelers who are choosing to trek Gorillas elsewhere.
Rwanda is no slouch when it comes to marketing itself and most likely find the right path to be that upmarket Tourist Destination and thrive. In the meantime, Rwandan Tour Operators are following the money, or one should say the Trekkers promoting Gorilla Trekking and Chimpanzee Safaris into Uganda which is the only other country for Mountain Gorilla Trekking since Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic is closed until the end of 2018.
Rwanda is also benefitting from its MICE convention Tourism where it has excelled in marketing Rwanda as a Convention Destination, add to that the Arsenal Football Team endorsements on Uniforms and Ellen Degeneres on American TV telling her millions of followers to visit Rwanda and Trek Gorillas there.
Uganda has seen a remarkable Increase in Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park:
Uganda with its 600 USD permits (1028 & 2019) has seen a tremendous increase in Gorilla Trekkers looking for value and doing the math. Permits at 600, USD mean a savings of 900 USD that pays for a lot of things on Safari.
You can still fly into Kigali International Airport and trek Gorillas in Uganda. No one complains about the drive-times that are a bit longer since it means saving 900 USD.
You can spend 1,500 USD on a Gorilla Habituation Experience Safari which is 4 hours with a Gorilla Family on an all-day trek.
Mid-Range, upmarket and exclusive lodges abound. most are less in price than in Rwanda.
Please Note: With Virunga National Park-DRC closing to Tourism for the rest of 2018, Rwanda Permit being at 1,500 USD permits have become scarce during the peak season months. Be advised to plan at least 6 months ahead, use a member of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators such as ourselves. AUTO Tour Operators are allocated 70% of Gorilla Permits and are authorize Permit Agents as partners with the Uganda Wildlife Authority under a contractual agreement that extends into 2019.
Many take advantage of our Fly to Rwanda and Trek Gorillas in Uganda Safaris.
Direct Flights from North America – NYC’s JFK Airport to Nairobi – arriving at 10:30 in the morning with connecting flights to both Entebbe and Kigali.
Gorilla Trekking in the High-Risk Democratic Republic of the Congo – Virunga National Park:
Virunga National Park – If you are a dare-devil you can go where others do not dare to go due to Travel Advisories by the US, UK, Australia, and other countries. Do not mind traveling without insurance, then Mountain Gorilla Trekking might just be right for you, the added plus is that the price is right.
Virunga National Park is one of the best-managed Parks in Africa, its Rangers some of the Best in the World. It is the oldest National Park in Africa, Gorillas can be tracked there, the permit prices are 400 USD –
Why might you not want to go there?
There have been two unfortunate incidents during the months of April and May 2018 where rangers were killed and tourists kidnapped. The tourists were later released.
If you, in spite of all warnings want to visit Virunga National Park, read our Visit Virunga National Park page where we give you practical suggestions about how to visit the Park dealing directly with the Virunga Park Administration.
Please Note: Virunga National Park is closed to Tourism due to security issues until the end of 2018. For the rest of 2018, you can only Trek Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda.
Our Take on Gorilla Trekking in 2018:
Gorillas do not consider themselves as Rwandan, Ugandan or Congolese. They are Mountain Gorillas and always have lived in the Virunga Volcanoes and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
More important than where you track Gorillas is that you actually track a group of Mountain Gorillas. You know what you can afford. Incredible Encounters with a Gorilla Family is what we do and what we are about. Whether you do it in Safe Uganda or Safe Rwanda is your choice, we make it a reality.
We know what our clients want and that since May 2017 they have shifted toward Uganda. At the same time, we hope that Rwanda succeeds with its plans to make Rwanda a premier, upmarket Gorilla Trekking Destination. With the insecurity found in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the pressure on permits in Uganda will only increase.
We also realize that this present trend most likely will not continue, somewhere, someone will make a decision that once again brings about another Gorilla Trekker Migration.
It all comes down to the choices a client makes…we will do our best to make it a memorable time in the Heart of Africa.
Gorilla Trekking in 2018 – Which Country – we can help you make your Gorilla Trek a reality