Gorilla trekking in Uganda on a Budget - Timing is everything
In a series of five blogs we look at ways of putting together a budget gorilla trekking tour in Uganda without compromising the overall experience. We are regular visitors to the region with month long recce tours in 2007 and 2010 visiting both countries and gorilla treking 3 times.
Many people planning a gorilla trek in Uganda or Rwanda are already aware that the cost of the gorilla permits is very high and that probably will limit most visitors to just the one gorilla safari. Then you have the costs associated with international plane journeys (despite oil prices crashing, we are not seeing that reflected in cheaper air fares) and road transfers plus a reliable safe driver to take you to the starting point for the gorilla trekking; or maybe even extend the Uganda wildlife tour with a visit to other national parks. Having being privilaged to enjoy spectacular gorilla trekking in both Uganda and Rwanda we want this experience to be available to more people on mid-range budgets and have come up with a few suggestions so you to can achieve one of your wildlife dreams.
'Timing is everything' relates to two major areas where you can reduce the cost of your gorilla trekking tour and still visit either Uganda and Rwanda at a great time to see the Gorillas. Firstly, Uganda currently has a policy - please check the Uganda Wildlife Authorities website for the most up to date information - that they reduce the cost of gorilla permits from $600 to $400 per person in April/May and Oct/Nov - at the moment it is $350 per person from April 1st to May 31st 2015. The reason for this is that the SW of Uganda and also Parc de Volcans in Rwanda, which borders it, have increased rainfall at this time of year, so many travellers look to avoid gorilla trekking during this period. Now to be clear, we are not talking about Monsoonal type rains here and in fact there is a chance that your gorilla trek will be at least a partially 'wet' one, travelling at anytime of the year, as this humid tropical climate near the equator often manifests itself in sudden heavy downpours. We have travelled to Uganda and Rwanda in October and found most of the heavy rain showers arrived in the evening after a day of the heat building up.
Secondly, have the mentality to plan ahead for your gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda, as this can make quite a difference on the cost of your international flights. The good news is that these months (apart from the Easter holidays in April) are not the most expensive time for air travel and booking a long time in advance gives you an opportunity to take advantage of flight sales; such as the regular ones held in the UK in the New Year.