Paying a hefty $700 per person for just an hour encounter with the endangered mountain gorillas would leave someone wondering whether gorilla safari in Uganda is worth the money. Before answering the question, one thing that is undoubted is that meeting face to face with these giant Apes in their natural environment is one of the most thrilling, life-changing, rewarding, unforgettable wildlife experiences on Earth.
It is also undeniable that $700 for just one hour with the mountain gorillas seems like an exploitation in the eyes of an ordinary person but someone that understands the value of spending even one minute in the company of these gentle beasts in the wild will pay even more to be one of the luckiest people in the World. For this reason, we can confidently say that yes, gorilla trekking in Uganda is worth more than $700 per person.
Much as gorilla trekking is unforgettable and a bucket list experience for many safari lovers, advance preparations, patience and hard work is important with over 6 hours of trekking before contacts are made with the Giant Apes going about their daily activities. The following are the reasons why gorilla trekking in Uganda is worth the money;
The entire gorilla trekking experience is generally exhilarating and life-changing
The entire experience of venturing into the jungles of Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks to meet the gentle Apes in their natural habitats is rewarding. The mountain gorillas are calm and peaceful creatures, most of which have been habituated to be in the presence of humans and therefore aren’t aggressive or scared of visitors who spend up to one hour watching them go about their daily routines. As long as visitors follow the issued guidelines (during briefing) and carefully study/understand the body language of the Giant Apes as explained by Park Rangers, then it is totally safe to watch these strong primates in their natural environment.
The money you pay directly supports different mountain gorilla conservation efforts
The endangered mountain gorillas are greatly threatened by habitat loss (resulting from human settlement, agriculture and forest logging), owing to the fact that dense populations live around the National Parks and therefore the money generated from gorilla tourism is the main source of funding for continuous conservation of these Giant Apes in their natural habitat. Not only that, the high permit costs have to pay Gorilla Doctors, Tourism Police, Rangers, Researchers and guides as well as surrounding local communities that contribute to the long-term protection of these Giant Apes in their natural habitat.
Therefore, the high gorilla permit prices in Uganda alongside the strict restrictions are crucial for the overall preservation of health and welfare of the Giant Apes, thus worth the money.
The outstanding flora and fauna of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
The beautiful and outstanding flora as well as fauna of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest makes gorilla trekking in Uganda worth the money. While the forest is a stronghold for mountain gorillas, there are other animals that include chimpanzees, forest duikers, forest elephants, leopards, grey-cheeked mangabeys, Cape buffaloes, bushbucks, Olive baboons and blue monkeys as well as birds that include over 23 Albertine Rift endemics.
Uganda Gorilla permits are still cheaper than in Rwanda
You might be wondering whether gorilla trekking in Uganda is worth the money until you learn of the actual cost of Rwanda Gorilla Permits. While Uganda charges $700 for the foreign non-residents, $600 for the foreign residents and Shs. 250,000 for the East African Community visitors, Rwanda charges $1500 per person hence making the former cheaper. While the mountain gorillas are the same in Uganda and Rwanda, there are slight differences in terms of accessibility of the Gorilla National Parks, varying terrains and vegetation density. It is therefore more affordable and worthwhile to undertake mountain gorilla treks within Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Expect breathtaking sceneries
A typical gorilla trekking day in Uganda involves walking several hours of challenging hiking through rugged terrains, mountainous slopes, thick vegetation and thin air but if you are already physically fit, all these will be part of the thrilling adventure. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is worth the money because of the experience but also jaw-dropping sceneries enjoyed from several viewing platforms. Some of the breathtaking sceneries to expect include the rolling hills, densely-forested slopes and clear skies.