Whether or not travelling to Eastern Africa is on your bucket list, it’s hard to deny the natural beauty and wildlife adventure the place presents. Tourists from all over the globe travel to countries like Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to experience this natural beauty.
But that’s not all they’re hoping to explore while visiting East Africa. A major reason to travel to any of these three African destinations is to see the mountain gorillas’ native to the area. Fortunately the numbers of African mountain gorillas have been steadily growing over the years since the time of Dian Fossey because of the extreme effort by different governments and charity organization towards conservation of gorillas in their habitat. According to the most recent census, there are only about 1,000 remaining gorillas of this species in the world.
Today, extreme measures are being taken to protect gorillas and their habitat as well as helping the communities living alongside the gorilla forests. Perhaps these measures won’t be able to increase the population substantially, but they can at least protect the gorillas that survive in the jungle. One of the most successful methods of protecting the species is through mountain gorilla tourism.
Here you can read the basics of gorilla tourism in Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC and the how this common tourist activity is helping to protect the wildlife of Africa.
What is Mountain Gorilla Tourism?
“Gorilla tourism” essentially means tourists visit up to the gorilla forests to see and learn about mountain gorillas firsthand for 1 hour. Just as you would sign up for a wildlife safari in Tanzania to see lions, giraffes, and elephants, you can sign up for gorilla trekking in Africa through jungle forests where mountain gorillas live
The main tourist activity in Rwanda, Uganda, and the DRC is in fact gorilla tourism and other activities include golden monkey tracking and hiking tours. People book flights to these countries from all over the world just to catch a glimpse of a gorilla family while they trek through the dense jungles of Africa.
Mountain Gorilla Tourism: Is it Good or Bad?
There is some controversy over whether or not mountain gorilla tourism is a good for the endangered gorillas or not. But there is absolutely no need for this controversy, since the facts show that gorilla tourism is indeed a very good thing for the gorillas. Trekking to see mountain gorillas can be well managed to reduce the risks human intrusion in the gorilla forest can have on the gorillas.
On this regards, a number of restrictions have been put into place to protect the welling of the mountain gorillas like tourists must keeping a distance of 5 meters from the gorillas, only 8 people can see a single gorilla family so that gorillas aren’t overwhelmed, tourists cannot visit gorillas when sick, keep the forest clean and no littering when in the forest among other limitations.
Major Benefits of Mountain Gorilla Tourism
The main benefit of mountain gorilla tourism is the revenue it brings to the cause. Trekking to see the gorillas is not free, in fact, it is quite pricey. Before you are allowed to head out on a trek, you must first receive a permit, which costs over $500 USD. There is only a certain amount of permits allowed per day within each park, preventing tourism from taking over.
The hefty permit fee isn’t just a money-making scheme; there are a few reasons for the high cost. The first is to raise money for the cause – since all of this money goes towards protecting the park you’re visiting as well as protecting the mountain gorilla population.
Another reason is to weed out the tourists who don’t actually care about African wildlife. It is more likely that only the people who truly care about the wellbeing of the mountain gorillas will pay the permit cost. In addition to raising funds, there are a few more ways that mountain gorilla tourism is transforming the lives of both the wildlife and local people of Africa.
Gorilla Tourism Empowers the Community
Mountain gorilla tourism is the main thing bringing people to the countries of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Congo. It doesn’t just bring people, it also brings money. These tourists aren’t just paying for the cost of the gorilla trek and the permit; they are also spending money within the local community of the area.
Perhaps most tourists’ reason is mainly gorilla trekking in Africa while visiting, but this doesn’t mean you won’t spend money elsewhere on your safari. You’ll need a place for your accommodation, need to eat at local restaurants, and purchase souvenirs from local shops and street artists. By doing this, you are supporting the local economy of the area, therefore empowering the community and helping locals to grow.
It Increases Awareness
One of the main goals of gorilla tourism is to increase awareness and teach people about the gorillas and other wildlife of the area. Every single gorilla trek is led by an educated park ranger who will tell you everything there is to know about the mountain gorillas you are about to encounter. Gorilla trekking is an amazing learning experience, and you’ll be able to go home and share that knowledge with your friends and family.
Tips on choosing the right Gorilla Tour
What to consider when costing an affordable gorilla tour
It’s important to decide the country you want to trek gorillas in as price differs. Rwanda gorilla permit costs USD $1500, Uganda costs 600 and Congo costs USD $400 and $200 in the low seasons. Gorilla trekking is a pricy adventure which one needs to plan carefully so as the spend less.
In order to save, you can plan for the minimum number of days to see gorillas. Other factors to put into consideration on the cost include hotel, food and transportation.
A 1 Day gorilla tour from Kigali to Bwindi national park is the shortest and most affordable tour currently. Many questions come with selecting the option especially tourists wondering the chances of seeing gorillas on this tour.
Of course it’s possible for a client to book a 1 day gorilla tour from Kigali to Volcanoes national park though the price is higher due to the Rwandan gorilla permit cost.
Below is a sample of the price per Person from minimum time.
|Tour||Hotel||Country||No of People||Cost|
|1 Day Bwindi from Kigali||No||Uganda||2||USD850|
|1 Day Rwanda Gorilla Tour||No||Rwanda||2||USD 1750|
|2 Days Uganda Gorillas from Rwanda||1 Night||Uganda||2||USD950|
|3 Days gorilla trekking from Entebbe / Kigali||2 Nights||Uganda||2||USD1180|
|3 Days Rwanda Gorillas & Golden Monkeys||2 Nights||Rwanda||2||USD 2250|
Other points to consider while traveling include; border visas, personal insurance, international and local flights, tipping, arrival pickups and accommodations among others.