In most cases when gorilla trekking is mentioned, the first thing that comes to people’s minds is that it is extremely expensive and this is due to the fact that the gorilla permits come at a high cost. The different gorilla trekking destinations have different permit costs , Rwanda with $1500, Uganda with $700 and Rwanda with $400 for the peak season. The gorilla destination that you choose will highly determine whether your gorilla trekking will be budget friendly or luxurious.
See affordable gorilla safaris to Uganda and Rwanda.
Budget Gorilla Trekking Uganda
Uganda is considered to be one of the best Gorilla trekking destinations with the largest number of gorillas to be seen. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and it will take you about 2 to 3 days in order for you to be able to exhaust gorilla trekking in Uganda. With a Uganda gorilla trekking permit at $800 at the moment, you get to experience at least one hour with the gorillas but if you want more than one hour, there are habituated families where you can spend close to 4 hours while enjoying the company of the gorillas. Uganda offers one of the best, most secure and budget friendly gorilla trekking experiences for tourists.
Budget Gorilla Trekking Rwanda
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda has always been on the high end due to the high cost of the trekking permit that goes for $1500 and this has not yet changed to date. There are a few ways in which you can minimize the cost of A gorilla trek trip in Rwanda and these are choosing a budget friendly accommodation facility and reducing on the number of days spent that is instead of spending three days, you can do one or two days. The downside about this is that you can get to take on three days gorilla trekking in either Uganda or Congo for a lower trek permit. All in all, there is nothing like budget gorilla trekking in Rwanda because it is for the luxurious travelers and those that do not have enough time.
Budget Gorilla Trekking Congo
Congo is one of the three countries in the world that offers gorilla trekking and among her neighbors, Congo offers the most budget friendly gorilla trekking experience. Gorilla trekking in Congo is done in the Virunga National Park although due to the current situation that is experienced in the country within the country of continuous political unrest, it is advisable that you avoid going for the trek here. A gorilla permit in Congo goes for $400 and during the low season, it goes for $250. Congo’s gorillas have increased to over 300 and when it’s safe, the Virunga National Park is one place that you should visit.
The Cost Of Gorilla Trekking & Gorilla Permits
The cost of gorilla trek depends on your trek destination that is Uganda, Rwanda or Congo. The gorilla trekking cost starts with the cost of the gorilla permit, accommodation, transport and other miscellaneous costs. All the three countries that offer gorilla trekking have different trek permit costs with Uganda at $700, Rwanda at $1500 and Congo at $400 and although the price is high, it was set up so that there is a limitation on the number of people who go for gorilla trekking in a day to a maximum of 100 and for the welfare of the endangered Mountain gorillas.
Rwanda gorilla permits cost $ 1500 per person
Uganda Gorilla Safari Permits cost $ 700 per person
Top Budget Accommodations in Uganda
Budget accommodation facilities are booked according to the gorilla families that have been assigned to you and this is due to the fact that gorilla trekking starts very early in the morning and you need to be as close as possible to the gorilla families indicated on your permit. Some of the top budget accommodations that are found around the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include the Buhoma community rest camp, the Bwindi view Bandas, Ruhija community rest camp, Ruhija gorilla friends resort, Gift of Nature lodge, Nshongi camp, Wagtail Eco safari camp, Nshongi Gorilla resort and the Trekkers’ Tavern cottages.
Bwindi Backpackers Lodge
Bwindi Backpackers lodge is located at the edge of the Bwindi Park and offers accommodation that ranges from budget to mid-range rooms to tourists heading to the Park for Gorilla trekking. The rooms offered are categorized into cottages, self-contained rooms and rooms with shared room facilities.
The rooms range from single, double and twin rooms and there is also a large room that is used for camping for all those that are interested in self-camping. The lodge offers free breakfast, they have a minibar and restaurant where all meals are served and you also have a clear view of the primates that live within the National park.
Buhoma Community Rest Camp
Buhoma Community Rest Camp, also known as the Buhoma Haven lodge, is located near Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’s entrance. It is a mid-range accommodation facility and is the best and safest to use if you are on a budget. The Buhoma community rest camp has 6 dormitories which can be used for self-camping, 6 furnished self-contained safari tents, double, twin and single self-contained rooms and 3 self-contained cottages.
Gorilla Valley Lodge
Gorilla valley lodge is located just right at the border of the Bwindi Impenetrable Park, making it a unique place where you can watch the primates from the comfort of your veranda as they move around the Park. The gorilla lodge has 12 en-suite spacious rooms which were constructed on a steep slope with one of the best views of the Bwindi and each one of the rooms has twin beds with each of them having unique decoration.
Top Accommodations in Musanze
Musanze district is the best place for tourists heading to the Volcanoes National Park for gorilla trekking to get their accommodation facilities. The district has accommodation from budget friendly, mid-range and luxury facilities and it will be your budget to determine which one to use. The top accommodation facilities that you should check out in Musanze include Five volcanoes Boutique Hotel, Villa Gorilla, Red Rocks Rwanda campsite and Guest house, Da Vinci Gorilla lodge and Volcano view Bed and Breakfast to mention a few.
Hotel Muhabura & Budget Gorilla Trekking Rwanda
The hotel Muhabura located in the Northern province is found in Musanze district and a good accommodation facility in the area. The hotel has spacious rooms that are categorized into three that are single rooms, double rooms and twin rooms which are all self-contained. The hotel is run by three sisters who aim at giving tourists a conducive place for one to stay after a long day of gorilla trekking in the volcanoes National Park.
Compare Uganda vs Rwanda Gorilla Trekking
Uganda and Rwanda are the best destinations for gorilla trekking in the whole world since they are home to the largest number of Mountain gorillas. There are a few differences when it comes to gorilla trekking in both countries and these are the environment change, the gorilla families and the trek routes.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is for the luxurious tourists and also those that do not have enough time and the gorilla permit costs $1500 per person in Rwanda. This makes it more expensive as compared to Uganda where the trek permit goes for $700 per person. Rwanda has mostly high end safari lodges, thus making it hard to have affordable safaris here.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is carried out in the Bwindi Impenetrable National park which has dense vegetation making it hard to trek the primates especially during the wet season. The Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is where gorilla trekking is carried out and unlike in Uganda, the trek terrain is much better and easier to take on.
Both countries offer an unforgettable experience with gorilla trekking but it is better if you go gorilla trekking in Uganda since it is cheaper and you get more days as compared to Rwanda.
Best Time To Go For Gorilla Trekking
Gorilla trekking can be done all throughout the year in both Rwanda and Uganda but the best time to go for trekking is during the dry season.
Uganda: The best time for tourists to go gorilla trekking in Uganda is between July and September during the dry season and this is because during this time the trek routes are easily accessible and slippery making the trek exercise easy.
Rwanda: the best time to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda is during the dry season but you need to note that the country’s weather is extremely unpredictable that is Rwanda has two dry seasons and two wet seasons. The dry season is normally experienced from mid-December to February and June to September which makes it the best time for gorilla trekking but since the weather is unpredictable you need to carry a rain jacket with you all the time in case the weather changes.
What To Expect on a Budget Gorilla Safari in Uganda & Rwanda
Gorilla trekking in both Uganda and Rwanda is an experience that every tourist should personally experience and this is because the experience varies from one person to another. Both countries have the same gorillas with just a change in the environment that is you will get an hour with the gorilla families assigned to you and 4 hours for the habituated gorilla families. You should hire a potter to help you carry your luggage because the trek routes are not easy to man oeuvre especially in Bwindi, do not take photos of the gorillas with your flashlights on because the gorillas might attack you and due to the constant weather changes, be ready for rain anytime of the day. Each gorilla family will be assigned a maximum of 8 people and 4 people only for the habituated gorillas and you should also expect to wake up earlier than usual because the trek starts very early in the morning.
In Rwanda when you get to the Volcanoes National Park, you will note that after the introduction of Sedan chairs where the disabled tourists sit and are carried by potters all the way through the trekking process.
How To Book a Gorilla Permit
A gorilla permit is an official document that allows you to gain access to the different National Parks that are a home to the rare Mountain Gorillas. Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda can be obtained from the Uganda Tourism board (UTB), Uganda wildlife Authority (UWA)or any registered tour company in the country and in Rwanda they are issued by the Rwanda Tourism board (RTB). if you are planning to get your permit directly from the tourism boards, you will need to send an email to the tourism board so that it can be processed on time.
It is much easier for tourists to get the permits through their preferred tour operators since it is a little bit easy as compared to getting it directly. This makes planning of your gorilla trip easy
The tour operators always know which gorilla families are the best and they will make sure that they get you the gorilla permits with the best families. You will also be trekking gorillas based on your physical fitness and hotel location.
It is advisable that you book the permits at least six months before your planned gorilla trek because the permits are always on high demand.
The first step in planning to trek gorillas is by booking for a gorilla permit is by providing your name, nationality, dates of when you are planning to visit and your passport. Your permit will be processed and if the dates you have chosen are already booked, other dates will be allocated to you and then a scanned copy of the permit will be sent to your email. When you fly into the country, the tour operator will provide the permit but only after they have confirmed that you are the one who booked. The permit provided to you will have your name and a special serial number making it unique from the rest.
About Bwindi Forest National Park & Uganda Gorilla Trekking
Bwindi Forest National park is located in the south western part of Uganda and offers one of the best sceneries in the country. The National park which was declared as a UNESCO heritage site lies along the edge of the Rift valley with immense and dense forests that act as habitats to both the animals and bird species found in the Park.
The word Bwindi means darkness and this was used by the Batwa people because of the dense forests that covered and can still be witnessed within the national park. It is home to about 320 Mountain gorillas, 324 different tree species, over 150 butterflies and over 345 bird species.
There are two ways you can use to get to Bwindi and this is by either driving or flying to an airstrip near the National Park. The drive from Kampala to Bwindi will take you about 20 hours using the different routes that are from Kampala through the Queen Elizabeth National Park and then to Bwindi. If you prefer flying, you will set off from the kajjansi airfield of Entebbe airport to Kihihi, kayonza or Kisoro airstrip depending on the gorilla family that you have been assigned to.
The activities that you can carry out while in Bwindi include nature walks to the communities where you get to meet the Batwa people and their unique culture, gorilla trekking and tracking which is the most participated in activity in the Park, hiking through the forest, primate viewing and many more others.
The Bwindi National Park can be toured all throughout the year but the best time is during the dry season when the trek and hike routes are not muddy and slippery. It is easier to also trek the gorillas during this period as compared to when the rains come in but it is better if you carry a raincoat with you since the weather can change drastically.
Beside Bwindi, a budget gorilla tour can be arranged in Mgahinga gorilla national park in the Virunga ranges.
About Volcanoes National Park Mountain Gorillas
The Volcanoes National Park which is located in the Virunga region of the country in the North western part of Rwanda is a top tourist destination for most tourists who visit Rwanda and this is because of the presence of the endangered Mountain Gorillas that live within the National Park and the golden monkeys. The volcanoes National Park was recognized in the year 1925 and for it to become a top Gorilla place in the country after the American Dian Fossey set up camp in the forest in order to provide protection to the gorillas from the poachers who hunted them down for meat purposes.
The National Park has become a treasure for the Rwandan government due to the presence of the Mountain gorillas in the National Park. activities that you can easily engage in while here include hiking up the volcanic Mountains of Bisoke, Sabinyo and Karisimbi, gorilla trekking where you get an hour with the primates and those interested in habituated groups get to spend 4 hours with the primates, enjoy golden monkey trekking in the volcanoes, participate in the naming ceremony of the gorillas, enjoy a birding excursion and game viewing of animals like hyenas, bush duikers among others.
About Virunga Park Congo
The Virunga National park which is found in the Virunga region is the oldest protected area on the African continent as it was opened in 1925 by king Albert 1. It was at first called Albert National Park before the name was changed to Virunga in the 70s. The park was at first neglected and most of the animals were killed by poachers but the government took interest in the Park which led to the conservation of the wildlife that can currently be seen in the Park.
The park was declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1979 and at the moment, it is one of the few places where you will find the endangered Mountain gorillas and other wildlife species.
The gorillas are the top tourist attraction in Virunga and since the trek permit cost is low, many tourists visit the park to get a close look at the gorillas. Virunga is the best park for budget gorilla tours.
The Virunga National Park is located in the Eastern part of the country and the easiest way to get there is by driving from Goma because it is the only road that is a little bit accessible.
Some of the main attractions in Virunga National Park include the following:
- Nyiragongo Mountain, this is the perfect place to go for a hike especially if you are fit although at the moment it is impossible since it has just erupted.
- Virunga has a wide range of animals and bird species that can be seen all year round and these include hippos, Colobus monkeys, Mountain gorillas, lions, warthogs, buffaloes, elephants and bush duikers and Kobs.
As you explore the Virunga National park, you will be able to engage in activities like gorilla trekking, nature walks, birding, game drives and hiking up the Nyiragongo. At the moment Congo is not safe for travelers due to the continuous political unrest but you can check out Virunga once the country has been cleared to be safe for tourists.
Combining Gorilla Trekking with Other Parks in Uganda
As you plan your gorilla trekking safari to the Bwindi Impenetrable Park, make sure that you also include other National park destinations like the Murchison National Park, Mgahinga National park, Lake Mburo and the Queen Elizabeth National Park so that you get the full experience of a Ugandan safari.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in the south western part of Uganda and is the second largest National Park in the country. Queen Elizabeth is home to thousands of animals, different types of vegetation ranging from Acacia trees to forest grasslands and a wide range of bird species both resident and international. It is a home to Buffaloes, elephants, tree climbing lions, Hyenas, Ugandan Kob, water bucks, antelopes and hogs among others. Best visited during the dry season, it is a good addition to a gorilla trekking trip while in Uganda.
Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Park is an extremely small Park surrounded by Lake Mburo which is one of the four main Lakes that make up the Park. Although the Park is small, it has a lot of things that will keep you entertained especially animals and birds. Some of the specials that you should look out for include Bushbucks, Burchell’s Zebra, Buffalos, hippos, Bush duikers, elands and warthogs among others. It is a home to over 300 bird species most of which are water birds and these include papyrus yellow warblers blue headed coucal and papyrus Gonolek.
Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison National Park is the largest Park in Uganda with one of the best sceneries of the waterfalls in the country. There are a number of things that will make your trip to Murchison Falls National Park an exciting place to be after a gorilla trek and these are the famous Murchison Falls which are found along the River Nile, the different bird species like the African Jacana, Malachite Kingfishers, Red throated Bee eater and the black billed barbet, animals like hippos, lions, elephants, chimpanzees, giraffes, crocodiles, Jackson’s hartebeest and many more others.
Combining Gorilla Trekking with Other Parks in Rwanda
Rwanda has a lot of activities that tourists can get to enjoy after the gorilla trekking experience and these are the Nyungwe National Park which is a home to a large number of primates and the Akagera National Park where lots of activities are offered.
Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is located in the North western part of Rwanda in the Virunga region and it is one of the largest National Parks in Rwanda. The National Park is a home to the largest number of gorillas in Rwanda and other primates like the golden monkeys and other primates. There are several activities that can be carried out here while in the Volcanoes but the best and most participated in is gorilla trekking which is best carried out during the dry season.
Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe Forest National Park is found in the Western part of Rwanda and is one of the top tourist destinations in the country. With a canopy walkway considered to be the longest in East Africa, this rain forest is a home to quite a large number of primates like monkeys and the chimpanzees which are the top tourist attraction in the Park. Make sure that you add Nyungwe to your destination list after gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes National Park.
Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is located in the Eastern part of Rwanda is one of the largest National Parks with an impressive number of wildlife that is animals and different types of bird species. The National Park is also home to Lake Ihema where most of the bird species can be found. Some of the activities that you can carry out while in Akagera include game drives where you will see animals like hippos, zebras, lions, giraffes, birding, trekking through the Park, cultural tours and boat cruises along Lake Ihema.
Combining Gorilla Trekking with Other Parks in Congo
Gorilla trekking is the top tourist attraction in Congo but there are also other activities like hiking, game viewing, nature walks to the villages that you can carry out in other National parks around the Virunga region and Congo like the Kahuzi Biega National Park, Garamba National Park and other National Parks in the neighbouring countries of Rwanda and Uganda.
Nyiragongo volcano is one of the many volcanoes located within the Virunga region and is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Mountain, which has an elevation of 11,380ft, has been an active volcano and the last eruption happened in 2021. A hike up this famous mountain is one of the activities that you can combine with your gorilla trek while in the country.
The hike up the Nyiragongo Mountain will take you about 6 hours and the dry season is considered to be the best time to go for a hike since the trek routes are more accessible.