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18 March 2019

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 March 18, 2019
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Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi
Category: news

There is a likelihood that the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) will increase gorilla safari permit costs in 2020. Since the double increment of Rwanda gorilla permits from $750 to $1500 in 2017, many people have similarly proposed a hike of gorilla permit costs in Uganda if the country is to reap big in terms of foreign income from gorilla tourism. However, in response to Rwanda’s act, Uganda maintained her permit costs at $600 for East foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents and 250,000shs for East African residents. Over time, veteran conservationists have urged UWA to increase the price of trekking gorillas in Uganda to generate more money for gorilla conservation as well as improving the standards of living for people living adjacent to these gorilla national parks. It has been realized that other service providers mainly airlines and hotels/lodges are the ones reaping big from tourism instead of the government.

Comparing air ticket prices with gorilla permits, a flight is much more expensive than a permit. This should be Vice Versa. A person booking a flight from London to Uganda pays £800 [Economy] to £3000 [First Class] to the airline (KLM) similar to a visitor paying over $700 for one night in a luxury lodge. Much money, therefore, goes to service providers yet the government gets a smaller portion. Airlines, therefore, earn double or triple compared to what Uganda Wildlife Authority earns. Also, local people adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable forest/Mgahinga gorilla national parks are given 20% of the total revenue earned from gorilla tourism in the park which money is little to give local people descent standards of living.

What happened In Rwanda?
In May 2017, Rwanda Development Board doubled the cost of a single gorilla permit from $750 to $1500. This was with immediate effect and paid by all travelers including Rwanda nationals. Travelers, travel operators, and service providers were left in shock but later carried on. The major objective of Rwanda’s hiked gorilla prices was to earn raised money for gorilla conservation and improving the standards of local people through gorilla tourism. The sudden rise of Rwanda gorilla permit costs diverted the many would have been Rwanda clients to Uganda creating high demand for Uganda gorilla permits. Since then, most travelers opted for Rwanda Uganda gorilla tours, which start and end in Kigali but trekking gorillas in Uganda. Most travelers now fly to Rwanda and then cross over to Uganda to do a 3 days Uganda gorilla tour starting from Kigali to Bwindi forest/Mgahinga gorilla national parks in southwestern Uganda. Concerned veteran conservationists propose that if only Uganda could increase gorilla permits to at least $1000, the country will earn high from tourism. Tourism is a top foreign exchange earner. In 2018, Uganda earned $1.4b (SHS 5 trillion) from the sector according to statistics from Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), agency that markets the country.

About gorilla trekking in Uganda
Visiting Uganda to see mountain gorillas is a focus for most travelers to the pearl of Africa. Uganda is naturally blessed to shelter over 50% of the world’s mountain gorillas which make it the best place to visit and track mountain gorillas in the jungles. To make trekking easy, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has habituated 17 gorilla families split into four sectors of Bwindi forest and 1 group in Mgahinga gorilla national park. Each gorilla family is visited by eight people every day hence 136 gorillas permits available every day. The high numbers of gorilla permits in Uganda give many travelers a chance to trek mountain gorillas.

How and when to book for Uganda gorilla permits
Uganda gorilla permits can be booked online or on ground at Uganda wildlife Authority headquarters. Alternatively, Uganda gorilla permits can be booked via any trusted and recognized travel operator offering gorilla packages. Travelers coming to see mountain gorillas are advised to book for permits as early as 6 months prior to the trekking date to avoid any inconveniences at last.

About gorilla habituation experience

In addition to gorilla tracking, Uganda offers travelers a chance to habituate wild gorillas. Gorilla habituation is a 2-3 years training of wild mountain gorillas to make them familiar with human presence before they are open to travelers for trekking. Two gorilla families are currently undergoing habituation in Rushaga sector south of Bwindi each visited by four people. 8 gorilla habituation permits are therefore available every day each costing $1500 allowing travelers to spend four hours with gorillas. Spending extended time in the company of endangered gorillas gives travelers a deep understanding of these creatures embracing the human like characters of mountain gorillas.

Increasing gorilla permit costs in Uganda will be a big deal to earn the government increased foreign exchange and improve the standards of living for the local people. Book a Uganda gorilla tour to Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga Gorilla Parks for a memorable experience.

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