Its now 24 years of successful gorilla tourism in Uganda the pearl of Africa. Uganda gorilla tours started way back in 1993 when Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park were garzetted purposely to promote gorilla safaris. The first gorilla group named Mubare group in Buhoma north of Bwindi was then habituated in the same year and open to travelers for trekking. Since then (1993), gorilla tourism in Uganda has become a success evidenced by thousands of travelers who flock into Bwindi and Mgahinga to have en encounter with these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. Great thanks go to responsible Uganda tourism bodies, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and Uganda tourism Board (UTB) that work hand in hand with the government to ensure conservation and tourism development in Uganda. The 24 years of successful gorilla tourism in Uganda are associated with:
Increase in gorilla numbers and families
Interestingly, Uganda has experienced an increase in the population of mountain gorillas. The pearl of Africa is now a home to over 480 gorillas, which make half of the world’s total gorilla population. These gorillas have been habituated into 13 gorilla families 12 of which dwell in Bwindi while 1 liv in Mgahinga national park. Gorilla groups in Bwindi are scattered in four sectors of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo in north, east and southwestern corners of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. These are Mubare family, Habinyanja family, Rushegura family, Oruzogo family, Nkuringo family, Nshongi family, Mishaya family, Kahungye family, Bweza family, Busingye family, kyaguriro family and finally Nyakagyezi family in Mgahinga. The increase in the number of habituated gorilla families in Uganda is a clear indication of gorilla tourism success in the pearl of Africa.
In 2005, Uganda Wildlife Authority launched gorilla habituation experience purposely to diversify tourism activities in Bwindi. Habituation experience is an act of training wild gorilla families to make them familiar with human presence. This has helped to increase habituated gorilla families in Bwindi and Uganda as a whole. Presently Bushaho and Bikyingi are undergoing training and will be open to travelers soon. This will rise the number of gorilla families in Uganda to 15 hence guaranteeing travelers a chance to have an encounter with these endangered species. Unlike gorilla trekking where travelers spend an hour with gorillas, gorilla habituation allow travelers to spend four hours with the endangered species, which make it more experiential. Also traveler is required to buy habituation permits each at 1500usd. Each gorilla family is visited by four people hence 8 permits available everyday. In the near future, Uganda hopes to habituate more gorilla groups to enable gorilla lovers enjoy this magical encounter.
Rise in gorilla permit prices
In these 24 years, Uganda has experienced a change in the prices of gorilla permits for all travelers. The permit cost was raised from 350usd to 500 and is now at 600usd for foreign non-residents, 500usd for foreign residents and 150ush for east African residents. Just like in other gorilla destinations, a permit allow travelers to spend an hour with the allocated gorilla family. Also at the start of 2018, Uganda Wildlife Authority removed discounted gorilla permits, which would be offered in low season at 450usd for foreigners and 150,000ush for east Africans. Local communities adjacent to gorilla arks are given 20% of the total revenue, which help to improve their standards of living.
Introduction of other tourism activities
Not only do travelers to Bwindi and Mgahinga trek gorillas but also a variety of other activities. Do not miss Batwa cultural trail in Gahinga, Virunga volcano climbing, bird watching, forest walks, waterfall hiking, and golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga gorilla national park. A combination of gorilla tours and other activities in Bwindi and Mgahinga make a complete safari package rewarding travelers with memorable experiences.
In conclusion, gorilla trekking is something you cannot rule out on your Uganda safari, book a gorilla tour to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park, take part in other activities for a memorable experience.