The price of the tracking permit greatly determines the average cost of a gorilla trekking tour. In Uganda, the permit costs $700, and in Rwanda $1500 per person. Other factors like accommodation, meals, and transport bring the average trip cost to about $490 per person daily, staying in a comfortable lodge with all meals.
The permit cost hikes the price of the entire trip, but when you get that out of the way, you are one step to seeing gorillas in Africa. Costs for other items in your quote can be dynamic considering your style of travel (budget or luxury lodging with meals), transport (public, private, or self-drive), and whether you want to use a tour operator to handle logistics or you are the do-it-yourself kind of traveler
Let’s look at all these factors determining the average cost of a gorilla trekking tour in Uganda and Rwanda to give you a clear picture of what you should expect.
The current price of a Uganda gorilla permit is $700 per person per trek (2023) for foreign non-residents. Foreign residents pay $600, and Locals pay UGX 250,000 per person.
A Rwanda gorilla permit costs $1500 per person per trek (2023) for all international visitors. Locals pay RWF 30,000; the permit is discounted at 30% if you visit other national parks like Nyungwe & Akagera. To exclusively watch Rwanda gorillas, the permit will cost you $15000.
The gorilla permit price makes the cost of the entire gorilla trekking trip higher than most would expect. Genuinely, the whole gorilla conservation program is darn expensive, and much of the funding comes from gorilla permit sales.
Many factors for a successfully continuous primate conservation program, like monitoring their health and protecting them from poachers, need regular financing. It is a truly massive undertaking with researchers, teams of rangers, trackers, guides, and a whole conservation management system run by the government’s conservation management body.
Almost 75 percent of the permit fees in Uganda finance the conservation program. The government retains 15 percent, sparing the last 10 percent for development programs for local communities surrounding the gorilla parks.
With the permit, you get a guided gorilla trekking excursion into the misty woods, ranger security, and a good enough assurance that you will see a gorilla family and spend an hour observing their familial and peculiar behavior.
If you wish to spend more than the regular hour with the gorillas in Uganda, you must purchase a gorilla habituation permit of $1500 per person. According to many visitors, the habituation experience with intense, emotionally, and physically demanding moments with the gorillas is worth the price tag; you should try it if you can afford it.
Anyone above 15 years can book the gorilla permit directly at the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) offices in Kampala, RDB offices in Kigali, or online for a Rwanda permit. But to avoid the logistical nightmare, you can buy the pass through a licensed tour operator. However, you should note that some local operators usually charge a logistical fee of about $30 per permit, while others may cover the logistics fees within other items on your itinerary.
Here’s everything you need to know about planning a gorilla safari in Uganda.
From permits to dates and lodges, all is covered.
Descent accommodation for gorilla trekking in Uganda averagely costs about $100-$350 per night with all meals. Anything above that will get you a luxurious treatment in a private forest cottage, usually a walking distance from the trekking point.
Rwanda has positioned itself as a high-end gorilla tour destination, with the average forest room price reaching $1500 per night and going as high as $15,000 per night in One&Only Gorilla Nest. However, you can get decent accommodation for a gorilla tour in Rwanda for about $320 per night with meals in lodges like Mountain Gorilla View Lodge.
If you are up for the challenge of searching for a gorilla safari lodge that suits your travel budget, you can’t fail to get one. Private investors have built many lodges near the park entrances, providing a litany of accommodation choices for travelers hoping to see Africa’s mountain gorillas, from budget hostels to comfortable lodgings and luxury mountain-side forest resorts outfitted with rustic wood beams and vintage-stone fireplaces abutting the national park’s misty rainforests.
All lodges for gorilla trekking are located in remote places where access to civilization is non-existent, but for the right room price, will splurge guests with a private luxury jungle treatment, feature balconies, and floor-to-ceiling windows spoiling you with panoramic views, lush surroundings, and unexpected kingly service in the wild.
Most lodges will provide a short daily menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner covered in your room price. Some will go out of their way to pack lunch for your gorilla trekking activity or your long drive at the end of your stay. For others, the room price includes some drinks, like house wines, soft drinks, coffee, and tea. Some travelers require special dietary for their meals. Most lodges will request that you inform them of your special dietary requirements beforehand and will not charge you differently from the room price.
Also, the room price usually includes lodge activities like cultural entertainment, birthday or anniversary cake, and other things that don’t require you to leave the campus. Ask your tour operator for this information before you book your vacation trip.
The ultimate selection of top safari lodges best for gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda
Accessing the gorilla trekking park requires a 4×4 safari car built for endurance dirt roads. It can averagely cost $250 per day for a 6-seater loaded with gas (fuel) and a professional English-speaking driver.
But first, you must consider the location of the gorilla park you will visit and your accommodation. In the case of Uganda, the gorilla permit location is essential. Uganda has five sectors where all trekking excursions begin, each quite a driving distance apart. All lodges are concentrated around the trekking sectors, requiring you to get the distance right before planning your transportation costs for the gorilla trip.
The gorilla parks in Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, are about 300 miles (500 kilometers) from the international airport in Entebbe. Driving time is about 10-11 hours, and about 19 miles (32 km) from the highway is a dirt-road drive through steep hillsides, which requires a tough 4×4 car. Even if you take a local flight to any of the two small airports outside Bwindi (Kisoro and Kihihi Airports), you will need a vehicle to transfer you for about 1.5 hours on the dirt roads to your safari lodge.
A domestic return flight ticket between Entebbe International Airport and the local airport near Bwindi (Kisoro or Kihihi) costs about $540 per person. The flight takes about an hour and can connect you to other national parks like Queen Elizabeth and Kibale Forest. Most travelers take the flight option to avoid travel fatigue and spare their energy for the gorilla trekking experience.
Your lodge will usually organize private airport transfers and avail the vehicle for your gorilla trekking excursion at a price separate from the room of about $150-$300 per day, depending on the lodge’s location.
If you are an independent traveler and hope to drive yourself for the gorilla trekking tour, you can hire a small 4×4 Toyota for about $60 per day or a powerful 4×4 Landcruiser at $130 per day from car companies like Road Trip Uganda. A private driver or guide is always available for about $40 a day, and you usually have to cover your own fuel costs.
You must factor in the local porter fees into the average cost of a gorilla tour at about $20 per person when planning your vacation to visit gorillas in Africa. Porters are essential in helping visitors carry their backpacks to lighten up their weight and help them up or down steep inclines.
Even if you are physically fit to trek on your own, don’t underestimate the importance of the porter. Many travelers returned from the excursion wishing they had taken a porter. Besides, it’s the more direct way to support communities around gorilla sanctuaries.
Porters are strong local men and women who use their practiced strength of moving in the mountain forests with heavy loads to provide this service to visiting tourists. Besides being strong enough even to carry you up the hill on their backs, porters can be great company during the excursion, furnishing you with many interesting native stories and experiences. It’s quite worth spending that twenty bucks on porter if you ask me!
Usually, you will find the porters in uniform at the trekking point waiting to be picked; you don’t have to book them in advance.
Other costs on your gorilla trekking tour may include entry visa fees, meals and drinks not covered by the lodge, souvenirs and gifts, tips, language interpreter fees, and any sudden expenses.
Entry Visa: Almost all foreign travelers entering Uganda or Rwanda require a 60-day single tourist entry visa, which costs $50. A single-entry East African visa to cross Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya’s borders costs $100. For Uganda visas, find out more at visas.immigration.go.ug and Rwanda at migration.gov.rw.
Drinks and meals: A meal with drinks not included in your itinerary could cost about $5-$20 per person. That can be a simple meal at a stopover restaurant, a snack, or an extra meal at the lodge. If your stomach gets easily upset by foreign snacks, we recommend you buy familiar snacks from big supermarket brands in Entebbe or Kampala or big cities en route that would last your entire trip. Your driver would know where to find the best supermarket. A four-course meal averagely costs about $40 per person.
Souvenirs: The price of souvenirs, African crafts, and art is relative to the shop, artists, and location. Many gorilla lodges have craft shops that provide a variety of choices at fixed prices. If you prefer to bargain your price, visit a craft shop in the city or roadside. However, we recommend buying your souvenirs from local craft shops around the gorilla parks to support communities primarily dependent on gorilla tourism.
Language Interpreter: A language interpreter for your gorilla tour costs $50 – $300 per day relative to French, German, or Chinese. English is the common language locals use during the gorilla trekking excursion. If you don’t very well understand the English language, you might want to hire an interpreter to come along with you on this holiday trip. The interpreter will cover their own meals and accommodation, but you must cover their transport costs; maybe spare a seat for them. Your local operator can arrange for the interpreter during planning.
Tipping: Although tipping for services on a gorilla tour is not a must, it’s an admirable gesture to tip someone when they provide outstanding service. In gorilla safari lodges, you’ll typically find a gratuity box for collecting tips for all staff members, from the chefs to room service attendants. However, you can offer tips for around $5-20 per person daily or even more, depending on your satisfaction with the quality of service.
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Planning a gorilla trekking tour in Uganda or Rwanda may seem like a simple and fun affair considering the wide availability of planning information on the internet, but it could be more complex. East Africa’s travel logistics are dynamic; a foreign traveler will find navigating gorilla trip planning logistics a nightmare.
Nkuringo Safaris, in business since 2007, offers you a buffer between planning logistics and your gorilla trekking experience. We will book your accommodation and permits, organize your transport and transfers, ensure you make it for the trekking excursion on time, and manage your entire vacation trip from the airport and back.
Additionally, we will provide insurance for any unexpected changes in your trip, including reschedules and cancellations. Send our local specialist a request for a free gorilla tour quote to email@example.com.