For up to five years, each gorilla group has undergone an extremely delicate process (Habituation) which has gradually accustomed them used to the presence of humans, allowing a few privileged visitors to interact with them in the wild. However, the gorillas are by no means tame! A typical gorilla tracking or habituation in Uganda is accompanied by an experienced guide, every trek starts with a pre-departure brief at the tracking point to equip you with information about ‘gorilla etiquette’.
Gorilla tracking is a year-round activity, whatever the weather. Tracking commences every morning from the park headquarters at 8:30am. The gorillas cover large distances overnight, and they are never constantly in one area. The guides use their knowledge of the gorillas’ habits and information from the previous day to locate the group’s whereabouts. For this reason, one group cannot be said to be easier to track than another.
During a meeting with the members of the Association of Tour Operators in Uganda on 6th August 2019, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) broke the news to the members that the tariff for gorilla tracking in Mgahinga and Bwindi will be raised from USD $600 to USD $700 beginning 1st July 2020.
In-spite the high cost of gorilla permits in Rwanda which is at USD $1,500, Uganda has maintained a low rate by increasing its permits by only USD $100 making it remain at peak demand. In a letter dated 7th August 2019 addressed to the Tourism Stakeholders new products, rates and clarity on fines of some UWA products and services were introduced.
Below are the changes made by UWA.
|NO||ACTIVITY||CURRENT RATE||NEW RATE STARTING JULY 2020|
|No||Activity||FNR (USD)||FR (USD)||EAC (UGX)||FNR (USD)||FR (USD)||EAC (UGX)|
|2||Golden Monkey Tracking, including entrance fee||90||80||40,000||100||90||60,000|
|3||Chimpanzee tracking permit in Kibale National Park||150||100||100,000||200||150||150,000|
|4||Chimpanzee Habituation Experience||200||200||150,000||250||250||150,000|
|5||Rwenzori Mountains trekking on UWA managed trails||N/A||N/A||N/A||50||50||50,000|
|6||Small boat trip in LMNP||20||20||20,000||30||30||30,000|
|7||KVNP Hiking newly opened Lonyili Summit trail||N/A||N/A||N/A||50||40||50,000|
|8||Fees for accessing Sempaya Hot Springs in SNP||15||15||10,000||Only Entrance fee required|
|9||Commercial Filming Fees||630||630||630,000||All filming costs to be charged at 40% of activity|
|10||Gorilla Filming||4,200 for team of 5||All filming costs to be charged at 40% of activity|
Tracking conditions These can vary greatly according to the location of the gorillas. It is entirely possible that you will find the gorillas quite quickly and be back at your hotel for lunch; or you could face a three or four hour hike (sometimes even longer) each way. It is important to be in good physical condition, as you are likely to find yourself climbing up steep slopes at high altitudes, scrambling through, over, and under dense undergrowth with nettles, barbed vines, and bamboo thickets and crossing slippery and muddy terrain. Correct footwear and clothing are essential!
CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT REQUIRED
- A small, lightweight, frameless, waterproof back/day pack
- Light, waterproof hiking boots or shoes with treaded soles
- Thick socks
- High speed film – 400 ASA minimum, 800 ASA recommended (no flash photography allowed on the track)
- Leather or heavy canvas (gardening-style) gloves
- Waterproof rain pants, a rain suit or poncho with hood
- Short sleeved shirt or T-shirt. Long trousers should not be heavy, but should the light-weight trekking variety
- A waterproof hat
- A water bottle or canteen (bottled water and a packed lunch will be provided by your camp)