A gorilla trekking safari ranks as the top most wildlife adventure of a life time on the African continent. It’s only done in Uganda, Rwanda and democratic republic of Congo, however, often considered as expensive. For non residents, a gorilla trekking permit cost in Rwanda is at $750 USD, Uganda at $600 USD and 400 USD per person in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The permit prices stands alone and not inclusive of the park entrances fees and the general costs of planning a gorilla safari to one of the gorilla national parks with a tour operator including transportation, accommodation and meals and other necessary requirements.
However, that should not scare you, even if you have limited funds but still want to maximize a gorilla safari. You can achieve your dream of seeing mountain gorillas. To give a clear perspective of planning a budget gorilla trek, we compare the cost of gorilla permits, park entry fees, ground transportation, accommodation and meals and then weigh the advantages of traveling in either rainy or dry season seasons.
The most that stands out and appeals more to planning a budget gorilla trek is opting to travel during the rainy season/ low season. On the other hand, the dry season is expensive even when trekking conditions and viewing gorillas is not difficult.
Uganda gorilla permit price is usually reduced from 600 USD to 450 USD per person for non residents in April, May and October and November. DR Congo also lowers its gorilla permit from 400 to 350 USD during the same wet season.
Most travelers tend to avoid a gorilla safari in Uganda and DR Congo due to heavy rains and the difficulty associated with trekking the tropical dense forest steep mountains.
Some of the lodges receive less or no visitors at all which propels them to offer discount room rates in response to discounted gorilla permit price. Likewise tour operator rates become relatively low, though not all are willing to do that, most will to at least adjust their prices to attract more bookings.
There are higher chances of escaping crowded treks in low seasons; Bwindi has 12 habituated gorilla families. Each is visited by a maximum number of 8 tourists for one hour per day, thus in the rainy season, people are less and you’ll enjoy the trek in few groups.
A gorilla safari in Uganda and DR Congo during low seasons is the best to planning a budget gorilla trek for those on a budget travel plan. Considering the overall discounts offered by both gorilla parks, lodges and some tour operators. However, on a serious note, trekking in the rainy season requires adequate preparation, work on your fitness levels and health. We advise you to inquire from us for packing essentials while keeping in mind not to spend much than your budget.
Note, however, Virunga National Park is safe and no longer under threat of armed rebels. The park is protected by Congolese army and park rangers who also ensure security for visitors during transportation to and from the park. Virunga Park is accessed via Rwanda and Uganda borders, the transport costs may be relatively high but the lower gorilla permit price combined would be equivalent to a single Rwandan gorilla permit. In addition, extra costs would only apply to getting the DR Congo tourist visa and yellow fever card.
Whereas, the rainy seasons in Uganda and DR Congo a great consideration to planning a budget gorilla trek, Rwanda can be an option too.
Those opting for a budget gorilla trek in Rwanda should first ensure they can afford the expensive permit price. There, we recommend camping or staying in relatively cheaper home stay accommodation like Iby’Iwacu cultural village. A guided camping safari including tents, paid meals, guide and other camping equipments would rather save a lot of money than staying in an expensive lodge or hotel.
There are shorter distances and cheaper ground transportation costs from Kigali city or Musanze town to kinigi, the main gorilla center in Volcanoes National Park.
For the sake of planning a budget gorilla trek, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo are the best destinations one should consider than Rwanda.
On another note, there are different park entry fees charged by the Gorilla parks which include Bwindi and Mgahinga in southwestern Uganda, Volcanoes in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s better to weigh your cost of accessing each park and fitting them into your budget plan when choosing your favorite gorilla park.
Book your gorilla safari with a local tour operator who can offer some discounts when extending other services like booking accommodation or flights once you use their services. For instance local operators speed up the process of booking and paying for a gorilla permit, they also tend to organize group tours which reduces the overall gorilla safari costs than one would incur when traveling solo. Traveling in a group would be a great option to planning a budget gorilla trek.
In general, planning a budget gorilla trek requires a traveler to be specific on the gorilla destination among Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Regardless of the nature of a safari, a professional guide will add value and make spotting wildlife exciting. Get in touch with a local tour operator who gives back to community and also respects the environment than profit repatriating internationals.