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Straight Talk – Why is a Gorilla Trekking Safari So Expensive?

Posted by on March 3, 2021

What makes a Gorilla Tracking Safari Expensive?

What Gives? Why is a Gorilla Trekking Safari So Expensive?

Straight Talk from a Gorilla Tour Operator: A Realistic Look at the cost of a Gorilla Safari in Uganda


Why is a Gorilla Trekking Safari sWhy is a Gorilla Trekking Safari so Expensive?o Expensive? What makes it such an expensive activity? Where does all the money go? The reality is this. A Gorilla Trekking Safari is one of the most expensive tourism activities in all of Africa. Some have said that it takes a truckload of cash to spend one hour with the forest’s gentle giants, the Mountain Gorillas.

What we are about to tell you will surprise you. We are unapologetic about the price of a Gorilla Tracking Safari in Uganda. Uganda offers you a safe Gorilla Safari at an affordable price. 

Why is a Gorilla Trekking Safari So Expensive? In over a decade of taking clients on Gorilla Safari, not one after their encounter with a Gorilla Family has ever come back from the said: “that was too expensive or a waste of my money.”

In fact, if anything, they regret not booking two gorilla Treks or the more time with a family on the longer Gorilla Habituation Experience.


Why is a Gorilla Trekking Safari So Expensive? Let us follow the Money.

The Price of a Gorilla Permit is $700 in Uganda. How does it compare to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo:

You might exclaim, ” $700 just for the expensive Permit!” Expensive compared to what? It is less than half the price of the $1,500 Gorilla Permit Price in Rwanda. The Uganda Permit Price is $300 higher than the permit price in Virunga National Park, where, unfortunately, you can encounter gorillas and dangerous guerrillas.

If you want Value and Safe-Secure tracking, the best value for the money is found in Uganda.

Why is Gorilla Trekking so Expensive? – Uganda’s emphasis has been maintaining an affordable permit price for a safe, guerrilla-free experience.

Is the permit price set to keep visitors away?

In the case of Rwanda, the answer is yes. The $1500 permit price did keep budget and mid-range tourists away and intended to so since Rwanda markets itself as a high-end tourism destination. The case is the opposite in the Democratic Republic of Congo where. The permit price is $400, but visitors stay away due to insecurity and their government advisories.

Uganda has attempted to meet the request for permits during peak season month by increasing the number of gorilla families that can be visited.

Does the demand for Permits push up the Price?

On May 6, 2017, the Rwanda Development Board made a marketing decision that sends shockwaves doubling the price of Gorilla Permits from $750 to a whopping $1,500. The need for conservation defended the increase. However, increasing the amount given to local communities around the park was ultimately a marketing decision.

Rwanda had been the leader in gorilla tourism, and there was a demand for permits in the country, but the demand did not double the price of permits. It was a marketing move that turned the Gorilla Trekking Industry upside down by becoming the high-end gorilla safari destination.

The permit price increase led to what we called “the great Gorilla Trekker migration to affordable Uganda. Uganda became the unintended benefactor of Rwanda’s marketing decision.

Uganda resisted the temptation to raise its price of permits. In July of 2020, Uganda raised its permit price by a modest $100 to the present $700 that is in effect until the end of June 2022.

Where does the Gorilla Permit Money go in Uganda?

Gorilla Conservation: The bulk of your permit money goes to mountain gorilla conservation. Gorilla Tourism in Uganda goes back to Walter Baumgärtel–The Father of Gorilla Tourism in the country in the late 1950s. It was revived by the Uganda Wildlife Authority in 1993 when people began to track for cash-paying for gorilla conservation until now.

Today nearly 70% of the $700 directly goes to gorilla conservation. It also pays salaries of the staff and rangers. The slogan of UWA is “conserving for future generations.” That is exactly what is happening, and the number of gorillas is increasing yearly. 2020 brought an unprecedented baby boom in both Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park.

Gorilla Conservation includes Habitat preservation. Without Gorilla tourism, there would be no more forests. Buffer zones have been created around the parks. The permit also pays for poacher patrols. They find the snares intended to catch an antelope but which can kill gorillas.

Community Support: The local communities used to be able to access the forests for firewood to gather things they needed to sustain, including the hunting of antelopes for meat. The Batwa, the original people of the forest, became conservation refugees, and they have benefited from gorilla tourism and are allowed to return to the forest, guiding tourists.

Community support includes building a much-needed infrastructure that the community and includes educating people about gorillas’ value. Funds are also used to pay for crop damage resulting from raids by gorillas into the gardens of those living near the parks.

Through community support, the community members become participants in Gorilla Conservation, making it a win-win situation.

The cost of a Gorilla Tracking Safari beyond the Gorilla Permits

The Cost of Lodges that are included in a Safari:

Lodges that cater to trekkers in or near Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park tend to cost more per night than lodges elsewhere in Uganda. The cost of lodges is higher than a full-board hotel would cost you elsewhere in most parts of the world. There are sound reasons for that. It costs a lot more to run a remote lodge in the wilderness than it does in the towns of Europe, the UK, the US, Canada, and Australia.

Building a lodge in the wilderness is very expensive. Beyond that, the price goes up because of the lack of infrastructure, complicated logistics, and a high staff to guest ratio. There are the added costs of security, electricity, which comes from an expensive solar system and water.

Activities beyond Gorilla Trekking:

Your gorilla safari will go up in price if you include extra activities in your safari such as hikes, cultural visits, golden monkey trekking, volcano climbing, birding, or a day to relax chill out after the trek.

The Services of a Ugandan Tour Operator:

Using a Ugandan tour operator for your encounter with the forest’s gentle giants is the economical, safe, and sure way to go. The tour operator provides the transport, an experienced driver-guide, and knows all the ins outs of trekking from permits to which lodge to use.

Using a local tour operator rather than an agency in your country will save you from fifteen to twenty percent on the safari cost. The markup that we use is a flat ten percent on top of the safari cost. The price of the permit is not figured into the calculation.

If you want peace of mind about your safari, go local. Go with us, who brings over a decade of experience of taking clients on their once-in-a-lifetime encounter with the Gentle Giants of the Forest.

Sustainable Gorilla Tourism in Uganda

The Ugandan Tourism Community is committed to making a minimal impact on the environment, the mountain gorillas, and the local culture while generating training for future employment for local people. The positive of sustainable gorilla tourism is to ensure that development is a positive experience for the communities, lodges, hotels, cultural art, and the gorilla trekkers themselves.

Why is a Gorilla Trekking Safari So Expensive? Maybe Gorilla tracking is worth every US, Canadian, Australian Dollar, Pound, Euro, Ruble, Rand?  You cannot find it in any zoo, only in the wild of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Enjoy your time with the Gentle Giants of the forest.

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