Gorilla safaris are popular in Africa due to the unique and intimate encounters they offer with these incredible creatures. Uganda is one of the most popular destination for gorilla trekking in the world as she is home to close to half of the remaining gorillas on the planet.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in South Western Uganda has been listed a number of times as one of the top places one should visit before she/ he dies. Bwindi Forest is the biggest home to mountain gorillas with numbers exceeding 450 individuals and over 19 gorilla families. Mgahinga national park is the other place for Uganda gorilla trek safaris though it takes a small portion of tourists due to limitations of few gorilla individuals being habituated in place. Mgahinga has only one gorilla family and this means only 8 people per day can visit for gorilla trekking.
However, gorilla tours are one of the most expensive tour activities not only in Uganda but also around the world. A gorilla permit in Uganda goes for $700 each which even less than Rwanda’s that is $1500. It’s ony DR Congo that offer permissions for mountain gorilla trekking at lower costs of $400 but the political instability in the place and other uncertainties makes it not ideal for the activity at the first thought.
This becomes hard for budget travelers to do the activity that anyone could wish to do if there is a potential. However, lets point out some few considerations and plans on how one can do a gorilla trek in Uganda on a limited budget;
Choose the Right Season
Gorilla permits in Uganda have the same price through all the seasons though some tour agencies offer discounts in low seasons than high seasons. The high season (June to September and December to February) generally has higher tour costs than the low season (March to May and October to November). If your budget is limited, consider trekking during the low season where the barganing power can be a little bit high.
Book in Advance
Gorilla trekking permits are limited and in high demand. It’s essential to book your permit well in advance to secure your spot and avoid last-minute price hikes. Booking through a reputable tour operator or the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is advisable.
Join a Group
Some tour operators have a window of joining other groups on safaris. Traveling in numbers means high cost sharing for things like transport, accommodation, meals among others. Don’t hesitate to negotiate the prices. Compare prices from multiple operators to find the best deal that fits your budget on such tours.
Look for budget-friendly accommodation options in nearby towns or villages around the gorilla trekking destination. These options might not be luxurious but can significantly reduce your overall expenses. Else, you can plan on the camping option as well.
Use Public Transportation
If you are not planning a complex Uganda safari, you can utilize public transportation option to get to the gorilla trekking location. Buses and shared taxis are more cost-effective than private transfers. However, be prepared for longer travel times and possible discomfort as well as missing out a lot along the way.
Plan and Pack Wisely
Bring your own trekking gear, such as sturdy hiking boots, rain gear, and a daypack. Renting trekking gear on-site can be expensive, so bringing your essentials will save you money. If you’re visiting multiple attractions in Uganda, plan your itinerary efficiently to minimize travel expenses and time. This could involve visiting nearby destinations on the same trip to make the most of your budget.
Remember, while aiming to save money, it’s crucial to prioritize the welfare of the gorillas and their natural habitat. Always follow the guidelines provided by park authorities and tour operators to ensure a responsible and ethical gorilla trekking experience.