Gorilla trekking in Africa is among the most unique activities that you can do while holiday in Africa. Mountain gorillas are found in Virunga Volcanic Mountains in Eastern and central Africa on the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda. The parks which hosts mountain gorillas include; Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Rwanda. When I moved to East Africa, I realized that I had a special chance to experience something that only a handful of people get to do consistently and I wasn’t leaving the Africa until I saw some mountain gorillas!
The Logistics of Choosing a Tour
There are two things to remember when booking a gorilla tour in Rwanda and Uganda: the costs of a gorilla permit and the tour itself. All governments oblige everybody to get a gorilla permit to see the gorillas. The normal cost for a gorilla permit is about $600 USD. The gorilla permits are issued by the government of the nation where you will be booking your gorilla safari. In June 2012, Rwanda increased the gorilla permit charge to $750 USD. Uganda and Rwanda usually reduce the costs of these permits during the low season (September and October).
In looking for a safari in Africa, I decided to stay far from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to the complex visa process. Rwanda has no visa cost for visitors from most Western nations while Uganda charges upwards of $50 for single entry and $100 for multiple entry visas (for different nations).
Most gorilla groups are continually observed and tracked so that tourists are able to see them. Seldom are there circumstances when tourists don’t see them, even on the shorter 3 day gorilla trekking tours. On average, it is between $500 to $800 for the tour, depending on the travel company and also the size of the group. When you have a bigger group the costs go down since you are able to fill up the transportation vehicle. I used African Jungle Adventures Ltd one of the tour company in Uganda that offered me the rates below:
- $870 for one person going alone on the trip
- $485 per person for 2 people
- $375 per person for 3 people
- $340 per person for 4-6 people
I was fortunate to find a gorilla family of four gorillas and the total cost of my gorilla safari was $840, $500 for the gorilla permit and $340 for the tour. If you’re a single traveler, you may incur an extra expense of $50 for a private room. Breakfast and lunch were included in the tour.
When I first began reaching out the different tour companies, I attempted to make sure I chose a safari that had at least 4 people to keep ma costs low. I stayed in touch with a several companies that offered me the most minimal prices and in the end I found information that fit my schedule perfectly that likewise incorporated 4 people on the safari.
You can find a list of the travel agencies on the Rwanda tourism and Uganda tourism websites.
Arrived one day before my trek was booked simply in the event that something happened or there were permit issues and I needed to get anther Tour Company. However there was nothing to stress over. I paid the tour company and we were on our way.
Note: If paying in cash, make sure you bring bigger bills that were printed after the year 2000 otherwise anybody in Uganda won’t accept them.