What is The Average Cost of Gorilla Trekking in Uganda & Rwanda?

The cost of your gorilla trekking adventure will primarily depend on the price of the gorilla permit. Currently, Uganda's permits cost $800 USD (from July 2024), while Rwanda's permits are priced significantly higher at $1,500 USD per person. Don't forget to factor in additional expenses like accommodation, meals, and transportation, which can average around $490 USD per day for a comfortable stay with meals included. For more specific cost breakdowns, read on.

Explaining the costs involved in trekking gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda and the price of a gorilla permit in 2024.

The cost of your gorilla trekking adventure will primarily depend on the price of the gorilla permit. Uganda’s gorilla permit currently costs $800 (since July 1, 2024), while Rwanda’s is priced at a steeper $1,500 per person. For a 5-day gorilla trekking safari in Uganda, expect to spend roughly $2,400 per person (mid-range) to $4,500 per person (high-end), once you factor in lodging, meals, and transport.

While the permit is a big chunk of the budget, remember there’s flexibility elsewhere! Do you prefer a cozy lodge and delicious meals or the ultimate in luxury? Will you use public transport, private hire, or go self-drive? Prefer a tour operator to handle everything (highly recommended), or are you a solo DIY adventurer? All these choices will shape the final cost of your trip.

Let’s dive into the details! We’ll explore all the factors that contribute to the cost of gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda, so you can create your dream gorilla trek within your budget.

How much is a gorilla permit in Uganda and Rwanda in 2024?

The current cost of a gorilla permit in Uganda is $800 per person for foreign non-residents and $700 for foreign residents. Meanwhile, locals pay UGX 300,000 per person.

A Rwanda gorilla permit costs $1500 per person per trek (2024) 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 watch Rwanda gorillas exclusively, the permit will cost you $1,500.

Why is the gorilla trekking permit expensive?

Why does a gorilla trekking permit cost so much? It’s simple: conservation. Your permit directly funds the ongoing efforts to protect these magnificent creatures. Think of it as an investment in their future!

Maintaining a successful conservation program is incredibly expensive. It involves researchers, highly trained rangers, trackers, guides, and a vast management system—all dedicated to protecting gorillas and their habitat. The bulk of your permit fee (around 75% in Uganda) goes straight into these crucial efforts. The government takes a portion, and the rest is invested in supporting the communities that live just outside the gorilla sanctuaries.

So, what does that permit buy? Not only an unforgettable hour with a gorilla family, but the peace of mind that you’re contributing to something essential. You’re helping to ensure that future generations can also experience the thrill of seeing Africa’s giant apes in the wild.

The Gorilla Habituation Experience Permit

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 is an intense, emotionally, and physically demanding moment with the gorillas. It is worth the price tag; you should try it if you can afford it.

How to get the permit

Anyone above 15 years old 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 It is worth noting that some local operators, like Nkuringo Safaris, may charge an additional logistical fee of around $30 per permit, while others may include the logistics fees in other parts of your itinerary.

Find out more about this government-issued golden ticket to see gorillas.

What is the cost of accommodation for a gorilla trekking tour?

In Uganda, decent accommodation for gorilla trekking can cost between $200 and $450 per night, including all meals. The price can go up for a more luxurious experience in a private forest cottage.

Rwanda is known for high-end gorilla tours, where the average price for a forest room is around $1500 per night. However, you can still find decent accommodation for a gorilla tour in Rwanda for about $320 per night, including meals, in lodges such as Mountain Gorilla View Lodge.

Many lodges near the park entrances provide a range of accommodation choices for travelers hoping to see Africa’s mountain gorillas. These options range from budget hostels to comfortable lodgings and luxury mountain-side forest resorts with rustic wood beams and vintage-stone fireplaces abutting the national park’s misty rainforests.

Most lodges for gorilla trekking are located in remote areas with no access to civilization. However, for the right room price, guests can enjoy a private luxury jungle treatment, complete with balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views, lush surroundings, and unexpected royal treatment in the wild.

What do the lodges offer with the room price?

Most lodges offer a short daily menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which is included in the room price. Some lodges will even pack lunch for your gorilla trekking activity or long drive at the end of your stay. If you have special dietary requirements, most lodges will accommodate you at no additional charge.

Additionally, the room price usually includes lodge activities such as cultural entertainment, birthday or anniversary celebrations, and other on-campus amenities. Be sure to ask your tour operator for this information before booking your vacation.

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What is the cost of transport for a gorilla trekking safari?

Accessing the gorilla trekking park requires a 4×4 safari car built for endurance dirt roads. It can cost about $250 per day for a 6-seater loaded with gas (fuel) and a professional English-speaking driver, who will drive you to the gorilla trekking center and lodge.

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.

The price of domestic flights and transfers

A domestic return flight ticket between Entebbe International Airport and the local airport near Bwindi (Kisoro or Kihihi) costs about $540 per person (return). 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.

Self-drive costs

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.
A porter helps a tourist through the thick bush. Porters are really helpful when trekking gorillas in the woods.

The cost of a local porter on a gorilla trek

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.

What other things would make up the average cost of a gorilla trekking trip?

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 understand the English language very well, 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.

Recommended reading: Etiquette of Tipping on Safari: A Comprehensive Guide

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Getting a free tour price quote

Planning a gorilla trekking safari 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 safari 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 info@nkuringosafaris.com.

request a tailor-made gorilla trekking safari quote from a local tour operator; nkuringo safaris ltd
request a tailor-made gorilla trekking safari quote from a local tour operator; nkuringo safaris ltd

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What is The Average Cost of Gorilla Trekking in Uganda & Rwanda?
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