Gorilla tracking is a famous, highly demanded and most sought after wildlife experience around the world and any traveler wishing to visit Africa for wildlife safaris can never think of missing out on mountain gorilla trekking. The mountain gorillas (beringei beringei) are found at an altitude of 1160m to 2600m in the misty regions of the Albertine rift in both Mgahinga national park and Bwindi impenetrable national park.
These particular species are shared by only the three African countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. As a requirement, a traveler intending to visit Uganda or any of the 3 countries for this activity must acquire a gorilla permit which they carry on the day of tracking, to allow them access these endangered primates. Uganda has got 14 gorilla families most of them in Bwindi impenetrable national park and only one in Mgahinga national park. Each family is visited by maximum of 8 people per day.
Almost every day over 100 gorilla permits are sold out by Uganda Wildlife Authority and many are directed to Bwindi and the least to Mgahinga. Shortage of gorilla permits started of recent but in the past years their demand was low. Tour operators and other booking agents usually advise prospective travelers to book gorilla safaris early enough, usually three months or earlier before their travel dates.
Gorilla permits have continued to be scarce in Uganda and this is because of the following reasons:
Hike of the prices of Gorilla tracking in Rwanda.
The prices of gorilla permits are relatively cheaper in Uganda compared to those of Rwanda that were raised from $750 to $ 1500; this has left tracking gorillas in Rwanda to the Luxury travelers and the budget and midrange travelers opt for Uganda as an alternative.
This has caused a recent hike in the demand of Uganda’s gorilla permits, as opposed to her neighbors.
Insecurity in Democratic Republic of Congo.
The insecurity with in D.R. Congo has also made Uganda’s gorilla permits to be scarce. This was due to a shift from travelers who were visiting D.R. Congo for gorilla trekking to Uganda, due to continuous insecurity threats, particularly in the Virunga region.
The insecurity in this country has also led to closure of gorilla tracking in the Virunga national park until 2019 following the killing of numerous rangers and the recent attack on foreign travelers.
The conservation factor.
The benefits of conservation stature could also have been another factor that has contributed to the scarcity of gorilla permits in Uganda. Uganda’s gorillas have been rising gently and making the country with almost the highest number of gorillas compared to any other country.
This has acted as a pull factor and also the policy of allowing only 8 people to track gorillas per day, makes it quite hard for everyone acquire a tracking permit.
The ultimate experience of gorilla trekking in Uganda.
Uganda’s gorilla destinations provide the best experience of tracking gorillas not only because of the numbers of families but also because of what it takes to get to the gorillas like hikes, treks, climbs that makes the activity more adventurous and leaves every traveler yearning for it.
The greater the experience of gorilla trekking, the higher the demand for permits.
Uganda Tourism board is the body that is responsible for the promotion and marketing of the country. And the body has taken responsibility and considered mountain gorillas as an iconic feature for Uganda. It has also gone further to contract 3 foreign marketing firms in Germany, Australia and United kingdom and one of the firms in United Kingdom has managed to make over 2.6 million pounds worth press coverage.
These strategies and more have made the trekking activity famous both in Africa and worldwide.
Ease to connect from Rwanda to Uganda.
Travel distance by road are tiresome and in the past short trips have been difficult to carry out in Uganda from Kampala to Bwindi and Mgahinga that is about 9-10 hours on road. But with the emergence of Rwandair, travelers can fly to Kigali and for about 3 to 4 hours drive to Uganda through Cyanika boarder to Mgahinga National park or via Katuna boarder to the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable national park.
All these factors have contributed to the scarcity of gorilla permits in Uganda and have made it the first target and choice for travelers from all regions of the world. So, endeavor to book your permit in advance since they are so scarce especially during high season months, and never miss out on this great encounter.