Every gorilla tracker is aiming at achieving a successful gorilla tracking as cheap as possible and this article is aimed at giving you advice on how to view the endangered mountain gorilla of Uganda cheaply. Gorilla tracking is regarded as an incredible experience of a lifetime one should not love to miss even though backpacker on a budget slot is the last option, even if it means borrowing but don’t miss! Some gorilla trekkers choose to track these endangered mountain gorillas in the low season months since gorilla permits are sold at a discounted amount at only $450 per person per tracking hence ending up saving some money and use it for shopping while on safari, discounted gorilla permit months include March till May and November. The other place with cheaper gorilla permits is the democratic republic of Congo. Many gorilla trackers always book fully inclusive gorilla safari package which include the price of the permit, transportation from Kampala to the gorilla Bwindi and getting back, as well as meals and accommodation. Some of these package deals go from $1000 and above however this depends on the choice of the accommodation facility for the overnight and a gorilla package to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park starts from a 3 day packages.
Hiring a Car from Kampala
After you have booked the gorilla tracking permit, you can book your gorilla permit through a tour and travel company or through a tour agent, the other important necessity is to book a car with a driver and it’s required to be a 4 wheel drive. This car is used to transfer you from Kampala to the park entrance and from the entrance to the real starting of the trek and also brining you back to either Kampala or at the airport to meet your departure flight back home you can get a RAV4 from as low as $75 with a driver and a safari land cruiser from usd150 per day for the car and the driver. You can book a gorilla permit and a car from the same tour and Travel Company or a tour agency.
Decide on a tour operator or not?
If you choose to book everything individually you should do it in time, for example booking a gorilla permit yourself at times becomes difficult because chances of getting them are less, tour companies and travel agencies have a bigger chance of getting them than individual. And the other problem with traveling alone is that some destinations do not have road signs, you also need to have a local knowledge about the destination and the lodges/hotels for your overnight. It may be very difficult to find everything on google or trip advisor, remember this Africa! So it’s very important to use a genuine tour and travel company as they can book everything for you at a cheap price and have a cheap wonderful gorilla experience. It’s important to have your budget safari Uganda booked through a recognized tour operator
Obtaining the gorilla permit
No one is allowed to trek the endangered mountain gorillas without obtaining a gorilla permit and these permits are obtained in advance, since gorilla permits are at on a high demand permits are sold on first come first serve basis, the earlier you secure your permit the better. The gorilla permits in Uganda are sold at fee of $600 per person and these are valid for one day, the price includes the entrance fee and ranger guide fee. And during the low season months that are from March until May and November, permits are sold at a discounted rate at $450 per person. Permits are bought from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) headquarters in Kamwokya a few kms from the capital city Kampala. In case you want to book your gorilla permit in advance, you can send an email asking for the availability. Ounce there is availability of the gorilla permit, you will be advised to send the money for gorilla permits booking and also you will send your passport details including your names and country of residence. After the permit is fully booked for you the tour agency will send you a scanned copy to confirm you that the gorilla permit is secured for you. You can send the money through a bank wire transfer, visa card or pesapal. You should always carry your passport with you.
Choice of Accommodation
Choose the accommodation type that will suit your budget and interest, there a number of accommodations within and outside the park ranging from budget to luxury accommodation the budget one range from as low as usd50 and the luxury one can go up to $500 and above per night. Some of the accommodation at the park include (Luxury) Buhoma Lodge/ Mahogany Lodge/ Chameleon Hill Lodge/ Lake Mutanda Resort (mid- range) Engagi Lodge/ Silverback Lodge / Gorilla Safari Lodge/ Gorilla Resort Bwindi/ Gorilla Mist Camp, (budget)Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp or Travellers Rest Hotel, Gorilla Valley Lodge or Buhoma Community Campground
The Park Entrance and Gorilla Hike
On the day of gorilla tracking, you are required at the park headquarters by 7:00-8:00am; you will be required to present your gorilla permit as well as your passport at the reception. In case you packed your breakfast, this is the right time to have it and you will be entertained by cultural groups as you wait for briefings from the park wardens or senior ranger guide about the dos and don’ts while with the gorillas. The guide will divide you into groups; only eight members are allowed to visit the gorillas per gorilla family, however in case you want to track in a specific gorilla family, you are required to inform your guide or at the reception in advance. If you need a porter, you will get one at the park headquarters, like if you have got heavy bags you don’t want to carry. A small fee will be charged from you between 5 to$10, some of the porters are ex- poachers so offering them a service is a great opportunity and the money they get will help them to look after their families and to pay school fees for their children.
Tracking in the impenetrable forest is not as easy as you may expect, you may walk for hours passing through sometimes muddy and steep slopes until when you land on the gorillas, there are also many stinging nettles and seem to go through the clothing, Some levels of physical fitness is needed as well as sturdy pair of walking shoes/ boots, long sleeved shirts or blouses. During the search you won’t see only gorillas, but perhaps, you will also have a chance to see many others species of wildlife like elephant, buffaloes, various species of birds among many others. The ranger guide will always alert you once you are about to come across the gorillas and get prepared, an armed guards will walk with you for protection from the charging elephants, poachers as well as buffaloes and the guides will stay near the mountain gorillas the whole day.
Only one hour is allowed to stay with the gorillas once they are met, take their photos and videos as much as possible although you are not allowed to use flash cameras when taking photography. After a close hour with the endangered gorillas, you will have to retreat back to the lodge for relaxation and dinner and an overnight.