Gorilla trekking stands out as one of the most popular activity to do on most of traveler’s safaris in Africa. A dream of seeing gorillas in their natural habitats is one of the most breathtaking experiences on earth.
In most cases when gorilla trekking is mentioned, all that comes in your minds is that it is extremely expensive and the cost of the gorilla permit is high. But the gorilla destination that you choose will highly determine whether your safari will be budget friendly because the different gorilla trekking destinations have different permit costs.
Gorilla trekking is carried out in different countries hence different trekking destinations. The gorilla trekking destinations include Bwindi impenetrable National park in south western Uganda, Volcanoes National park in Rwanda, Mgahinga National park in south western Uganda, Virunga National park in Democratic Republic of Congo, Kahuzi Biega in the Republic of Congo also known as Congo Brazzaville and in Dzangha-Sangha reserve in the Central African Republic. Uganda and Rwanda are considered to be one of the best destinations for gorilla trekking in the world because of their largest number of gorillas to be seen.
Most gorilla safaris in Uganda are done in Bwindi impenetrable National park with over 4 sectors where trekking is done. There is Buhoma sector in the north, Ruhija sector in the east, Rushaga and Nkuringo in the southern part of the park. All these sectors are home to 19 habituated gorilla families and over 152 gorilla permits are available every day to the visitors. Trekking is also done in Mgahinga National park with only one habituated gorilla group.
Another best destination for gorilla trekking is Volcanoes National park located north west of Rwanda with over 10 habituated gorilla families. Gorilla trekking is a thrilling activity that sees the visitors hiking in the forests for a maximum of 2-6 hours searching for the endangered species in their natural habitats. However here are some of the tips that you may need to consider as you plan for your budget gorilla trekking trip.
Visit in the low season.
The low season is the cheapest way to see mountain gorillas in all the gorilla trekking destinations, because acquiring trekking permits is very easy and less expensive. During this season the travelers are few in the National parks which allows you to see the mountain gorillas properly. Uganda recently removed the low season discount on gorilla trekking permits but Congo still offers the discounted gorilla trekking permits. So, during the low season there are chances of buying the trekking permits at low costs.
Low season is also the best time for your budget gorilla trekking safari because most hotels and lodges give discounted accommodation rates to attract more visitors unlike in the peak season where there are barely no space and the rates are high.
Budget gorilla trekking in groups.
Organizing a budget gorilla trekking safari in a group is the best option as you plan for your budget gorilla trekking trip. Groups help each individual traveler to share costs of transport, fuel, accommodation with others hence highly reducing the costs of trekking. Group safaris are the real deal when it comes to having a budget gorilla trekking safari.
Go for a cheap gorilla trekking permit.
Rwanda’s Volcanoes National park has the highest gorilla trekking permit which almost half of Uganda’s permit and this has not changed to date. The gorilla trekking permit in Volcanoes National park costs $1500 for all resident So, there is nothing like budget gorilla trekking in Rwanda thus considered for luxurious travelers.
Therefore, Uganda and Congo are the best options as you plan for your budget gorilla trekking safari because of their reduced costs. The gorilla trekking permit for Uganda costs $700 for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents and 250,000UGX for East African residents.
However, Congo offers the most budget friendly gorilla trekking experience. Gorilla trekking in Congo is done in Virunga National park, although due to the current situation in Democratic Republic of Congo of political unrests that is ongoing, gorilla trekking is not advise to be done here. A gorilla trekking permit in Virunga National park goes for $ 400 in the high season and $250 in the low season.
Book budget accommodations.
Gorilla trekking parks have variety of accommodations ranging from luxury, midrange and budget. As you plan for your budget gorilla trekking safari, it better to book budget lodges and hotels for a great gorilla trekking experience.
You can book accommodations in budget lodges and hotels to avoid your trekking becoming costly but also note that some sectors have the most luxurious lodges.
Besides the cost of the gorilla trekking permit, accommodation costs can make the trip expensive. So, it’s important to consider budget accommodations for your trek to become more affordable.
Consider public transportation.
It can be costly to hire a private car with a driver for your gorilla trekking yet you can use public transport to get to the surrounding towns and then from there hire a vehicle for 1 day to get to the trekking areas. This cuts the costs significantly.