Uganda has more than half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas living in two of its national parks; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
There are only about 1063 mountain gorillas in the entire world. Besides Uganda, the rest of the gorilla population is found in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Mountain gorilla trekking has been put in place to give tourists a chance to encounter the gorillas. An array of gorilla trekking safari packages is tailor-made by tour operators to meet the high demand in the tourism industry. The packages are sold at varying prices depending on different factors like; the cost of gorilla permits and the number of days a safari will last. Here is some help breaking down the various expenditures that determine Uganda gorilla safari prices:
The cost of a gorilla permit in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is $600 for foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents, and UGX 250000 for East African nationals.
The cost of a permit is however set to increase for foreign non-residents and foreign residents to $700 and $600, respectively.
The cost of a gorilla habituation permit is $1500 for foreign non-residents, $1000 for foreign residents, and UGX 750000 for East African nationals.
A permit is a mandatory requirement for tourists before they are granted permission to trek gorillas or go for a habitation experience. Uganda gorilla safari prices are in every way determined by the kind of permit a tourist will need to book.
All national parks have an entrance fee visitors are required to pay before they enter any of the parks.
To enter Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the only mountain gorilla habitats in Uganda, adult foreign non-residents are required to pay an entrance fee of $40. Adult foreign residents pay a fee of $30, and adult East African nationals pay UGX 20000.
Children pay an entrance fee of $20, $10, and UGX 5000, for foreign non-residents, foreign residents, and East African nationals, respectively. When tour operators set Uganda gorilla safari prices, the park entrance fees are included in the packages.
Uganda has a wealth of lodges found within and near all its national parks. Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks have several budgets, midrange, and luxury lodges and accommodation facilities.
Tourists who choose budget lodging facilities usually pay between $50 – $100 dollars per night, midrange lodging goes for $150 – $200, and luxury facilities cost between $300 – $2500 per night. Costs are usually lower for shared accommodation. For most lodges, meals are inclusive of the accommodation fee.
Tourists are advised to make payment for 2 nights since most gorilla safari tours last at least 3 days, with 2 nights being spent in the park; the day of traveling to the park, and another sleepover the next day after their trekking excursion.
Tourists can always return to Kampala on the day they finish their trek if they want to but the uncertainty of the length of the excursions makes booking a lodge a necessity. The trekking can last an entire 6 hours or more.
It is best to book a lodge or hotel through a tour operator who will especially ensure the facility chosen for you is close to one of the trailheads, a starting point for trekking one of the gorilla families. The type of accommodation a tourist wants will in every way determine their Uganda gorilla safari price.
Most of the Uganda gorilla safari price packages cover the cost of meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for all the days tourists spend on their safari. Tourists can however go on to incur individual costs when they want meals, food, and drinks out of what is provided. Some tourists spend as much as $100 me or more on food and beverages on a daily basis.
After booking a trekking permit and safari accommodation, transport to and from your chosen park should be considered next.
Solo travelers tend to incur more transport costs as compared to tourists who allow traveling in a group arranged transportation.
A standard gorilla trekking safari lasts 3 days. Transportation by road is usually by a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle and a paid guide. Hiring a car to Bwindi or Mgahinga may cost around $70 dollars excluding fuel charges and cost of a guide.
Chartered flights to the parks can be organized by tour operators. A flight may cost over $600. A road drive is highly recommended for one to get the feel of a real African safari. The estimated cost of transportation is included in the set Uganda gorilla safari prices.
Gorilla treks are exerting especially in Bwindi where the terrain is rugged and the forest is quite thick. Hiring porters is an option the park authorities put in place to ease the difficulty of the treks.
When you hire a porter, they help carry all your luggage; backpacks, video cameras, lunch boxes, and every other equipment you intend to hike with. The porters even give you a pull when you need it during the trek.
As for the elderly, they can hire a sedan chair and up to 8 porters or more to help with carrying them. This can cost around $400 or less. The porters will carry you until you find the gorilla family you’re trekking and still carry you back after the trek.
Porters are usually members of the local community; men making ends meet to help their families survive, and even students who need to raise funds for their school fees. Whenever one hires a porter, they are indirectly contributing to the development of a local community. Tour operators do not include the cost of porters in the Uganda gorilla safari price packages but a tourist can include it in their personal summation of expected expenditure while on the safari.
Tipping is not compulsory. But out of courtesy, you can always plan and set aside a small amount to give to the devoted waiter, porter, guide, driver, hotel and park staff, as an expression of your appreciation for their effort and satisfactory service.
The price of a Uganda gorilla safari package comes from a summation of the predicted expenditure on all the days a safari is intended to last. Longer safaris cost more than shorter ones.
A 1-day gorilla safari can cost about $900 per person when traveling with someone, 2 days may cost around $980 person, and a 3 days gorilla safari will cost around $1250 per person. Luxury gorilla safaris can cost between $1500 – $5000.