When it comes to safaris to Africa, many think you need millions saved in the account to be able to take part in such lovely experiences like mountain gorilla trekking. Well, what is interesting is that you can be part of this life changing experience even without necessarily having huge sums of money. To take part in mountain gorilla trekking, there are various things one needs to put in place to make a gorilla safari successful. They include permit, accommodation, logistics, transportation and others.
Depending on which country you prefer visiting on gorilla safari, the permits in Uganda cost $600 while those you plan to visit Rwanda to track mountain gorillas, permits can be obtained at $1500 per person and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) you need $400. You can obtain a permit through respective park authorities in Uganda-through Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), in Rwanda-the Rwanda Development Board through email@example.com and in Congo-through the Virunga National Park authority or through a ground tour operator.
Usually, we assist our visitors to identify the dates available and then reserve gorilla permits in Uganda and Rwanda. Most importantly, you need to book your permit at least 3 months to 5 months’ time or even earlier than this prior your actual trek the fact that demand for these permits is very high mostly in high peak season from June to September or December to February.
The other significant aspect to put into consideration is means of transportation. To get to Uganda Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park or Virunga National Park one needs to have means of transportation.
You can opt for public means but this is more challenging the fact that they do not directly take you to park hence hiring a good 4 wheel drive safari vehicle through a ground tour operator is ideally the best way to go. We have wide range of car rentals that can navigate through the terrains of southwestern Uganda to Bwindi/Mgahinga National Park or the Rwanda Volcanoes National Park.
To get to Bwindi or Mgahinga National Park you need about 8-10 hours to drive from Entebbe or Kampala and this means you have to plan a trip at least 3 days or more if you are to have ultimate experience. Alternatively, you can plan appropriately for a direct flight which you can take from Entebbe or Kajjansi airstrip then you land into Kihihi/Kisoro airstrip where you can easily connect to either Bwindi or Mgahinga National Park by car. For those of you who pay a visit to Rwanda for gorilla tours, you can spend about 2 to 3 hours to drive from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park. Equally, you need to plan for the cost of transportation and a 4 wheel drive safari vehicle is the best option.
Another significant factor to take note is accommodation option. What makes any safari complete at a destination is availability of lodging facilities. Remarkably, Bwindi, Mgahinga, the Virunga and Volcanoes National Parks feature a number of comfortable lodging options for you to spend a night on. They range from budget to luxury but their cost is within visitors’ pocket range. In Uganda, the notable lodges for your overnight stay while on gorilla safari include Chameleon Hill Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Buhoma Lodge, Buhoma Community Bandas, Clouds Lodge a mention but a few. In Rwanda you have Bisate Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Virunga Lodge, Kinigi Guesthouse and others.
Besides, porters shouldn’t be left out as their service may be of use especially if you have heavy luggage but usually this is not added in the overall cost and you have to bear it in mind. Porters can be hired at $10 and $15 and normally they are at park headquarters. Hiring porters is one great thing the fact that most of them are ex-poachers but now turned to support gorilla and other wildlife conservation in Volcanoes National Park, Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park, Virunga National Park. The other thing that is not included in the cost is the tips that you give to staff, driver guide, locals for the good service rendered and others. Note that every tour operator/company has its own mark-up that is added and this is like a profit for the company that they use in facilitating other activities that make your safari a success.
To cut costs down, you can opt to embark on a group tour and by so doing, you are in position to share other costs for instance cost of hiring a vehicle which usually is very costly and others.
Conclusively, the cost of gorilla safari varies from destination to destination as well as tour operators. While arranging your gorilla tour, you need to consider that tour operator with the best rates, best offers and not exploitative.