Have you been wondering why gorilla trekking is expensive? An encounter with mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is undeniably among the most expensive venture on African safaris. Thousands of travelers have taken part in the life-changing encounter while others hope to come in the near future. Despite the thrilling experience that gorilla trekking comes along with; the activity is undeniably for the rich. In Rwanda, a single gorilla permit costs 1500usd for an hour’s interaction, 600usd in Uganda and 450usd in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which surely indicate that, the activity is not for the poor. This money is paid throughout the year regardless of the season and Rwanda’s case its paid by all people regardless of one’s nationality. In comparison to other wildlife safaris in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, a one-day gorilla tour is equivalent to a 3 days wildlife tour in terms of costs. The reasons for the increased cost if gorilla permits include among others:
Critically endangered species
Mountain gorillas are the world’s critically endangered species, which were once at the verge of extinction. In the whole world, there are roughly 880 mountain gorillas, which only survive in the tropical rain forests of Bwindi forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo. There are limited gorilla permits to serve a high number of travelers interested to see the gorillas, this therefore calls for a high cost of a gorilla permit to discourage some people from traveling hence saving the critically endangered mountain gorillas from the crowds. Also, mountain gorillas are close relatives to human beings, which make them susceptible to human diseases. Therefore, expensive gorilla permits save mountain gorillas from tracking deadly human wildlife diseases that can be caused by too much crowds. Sincerely, gorilla trekking is a dream for most travelers and hence high demand for the permits, which are limited. The high rates are therefore to limit the demand to the available gorilla permits so as to avoid over exploitation and exceeding the carrying capacity o gorilla national parks, which are Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, Virunga national park, Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park.
Conservation and sustainable gorilla tourism
Having experienced a great loss of mountain gorillas in the 1980’s through poaching and human encroachment on the gorilla habit. Gorilla permits are charged high so as to use part of it for conservation of gorilla habitat. Rwanda is a best example, which in 2017 doubled the cost f gorilla permit from 750usd to 1500usd with the major aim of conserving the shrinking habit of mountain gorillas. Since the introduction of gorilla tourism in the 1990’s, there has been steady increase in the population of mountain gorillas despite the shrinking habits putting the endangered species at risk. Conserving the gorillas is an indirect way of promoting sustainable gorilla tourism in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Imagine if there was no limit on the number of travelers allowed to trek mountain gorillas? There would be crowding and over stepping which destroy gorilla habitats. A high number of travelers also make mountain gorillas uncomfortable in their natural habitat, which destructs their social happy life.
Monitoring and safety
Being critically endangered species, mountain gorillas require continuous monitoring to ensure they are safe. Part of money collected in gorilla permits is used to pay people who monitor the wellbeing of mountain gorillas. In each country, responsible tourism bodies i.e. Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in Uganda and Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in Rwanda have hired people to monitor the where about these endangered regarding their movements, feeding, and health status. Every morning, a group of trackers hike into the forest to check on the gorillas. Similarly, tourism police and other armed rangers have been hired to ensure the safety of mountain gorillas from any external attack by the poachers, and rebel groups who in the past used the gorilla habits as their hiding places. Incase travelers are connecting from one destination to another at night, tourism police escorts them which ensures their safety throughout.
Improving the livelihood of local people
Gorilla tourism has become an indirect source of Local livelihood for the communities adjacent to gorilla national parks. Responsible governments share part of the revenue earned to local communities to improve their standards of living. In Uganda, local people are given 20% of the total revenue earned from gorilla permits while Rwanda gives 10% to local people. Sharing with local people has created positive attitude of local people towards gorilla tourism and conservation hence reducing on the natural resource conflicts between local people and the management of respective national parks. Before the introduction of gorilla tourism and wildlife conservation, local people had full access to all resources in the forest.
NOTE: To ensure peaceful, enjoyable and memorable encounter with the critically endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitats, travelers are required to follow the gorilla trekking rules and regulations: These include dress smart for the jungle, keeping a distance and keeping within their groups. The do’s and don’ts are similar in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
How to behave with mountain gorillas
Mountain gorillas are shy and calm creatures tat stay peaceful even in the presence of travelers. You are therefore reminded not to disturb these animals in anyway. All travelers must not come so close to gorillas, which disrupt and make them uncomfortable. Also, don not feed gorillas touch them to avoid the spread of human wildlife communicable diseases. Incase gorillas approach you, you are reminded to step back and let it pass. Travelers are also required to speak at a low tone and keep within their groups not to wonder in the forest, which can be harmful.
Conclusively, the high cost of a gorilla permit is worth the phenomenal experience of trekking mountain gorillas. Book a gorilla permit today to Uganda, Rwanda and Congo and be part of the world’s best wildlife experience.