Increase in Gorilla Permit Fees in Volcanoes National Park

Rwanda Development Board Announces Increase in Gorilla Permit Fees in Volcanoes National Park

”The announcement to increase gorilla tracking permit fees came in as a shock and on short notice and was received with mixed reactions by stake holder across the East African block.

Kigali, 6 May 2017 – The Rwanda Development Board today announced an increase in the price of Gorilla Permits from US$ 750 to US $1,500 for all visitors effective immediately. A new exclusive package for tourists who wish to book an entire family of gorillas was also introduced at US$ 15,000, and will receive exclusive personalized tour guide services.

The price increase will not affect tourists who had already purchased their tickets at the time of this announcement.

Tourists who visit other national parks (Nyungwe and Akagera) for a minimum of three days, in addition to gorilla trekking will receive a discount of 30%. Similarly, conference tourists, who stay pre or post conference dates to see gorillas will be eligible for a 15% discount.

In line with Rwanda’s high-end tourism strategy, the price increase aims to strengthen conservation efforts and contribute more to the development of communities living around the Volcanoes National Park.

Along with the new tariff, the tourism revenue sharing rate for communities adjacent to the park, will also increase from 5% to 10%, which will quadruple the absolute revenues received by communities. Over the last 12 years, more than 400 community projects have been completed including hospitals, schools, business development centers and water supply systems to facilitate access to clean water. These projects directly benefit the people living around the parks.

Gorilla and her baby

Ms. Clare Akamanzi, the Chief Executive Officer at Rwanda Development Board said:

“Gorilla trekking is a highly unique experience. We have raised the price of permits in order to ensure sustainability of conservation initiatives and enhance visitors’ experience. We also want to make sure that the communities living near the park area receive a bigger share of tourism revenues to fund development projects and empower them economically.”

New, high-end lodges are opening in Musanze and plans are underway to improve visitors’ experience at Kinigi, including renovation of the information center to equip it with modern offices and tourism services such as conservation education, children’s learning space as well as digital facilities.

Mountain gorillas are an endangered species with only around 880 remaining in the world. Of those in in the Virunga Massif, Rwanda accounts for 62% of the gorilla population. Stringent conservation measures have significantly contributed to a rise in gorilla numbers. There are currently 20 families habituated for tourism and research in Rwanda, up from just 9 families in 2010.”

From my point of view, this price change hit me like a “tsunami”, I never saw it coming and no warning signals, it just happened and this is not good for me and other fellow travel agents around the world. We get visitors from all over the world either directly or through international travel agents who normally take time to sign up and with international travel agents, we provide catalogues for a whole year. I now imagine what dilemma the international agents who are already marketing quoted Rwanda gorilla packages or even signed up clients on scheduled departures are in or me the local tour operator anticipating that business flow from my agents.

What is the way forward? I want to think and appreciate the fact that by the time the Rwanda Development Board came out to announce the prince increase, they must have had a well thought strategy and in line with the government.

We shall endeavor to sale the product as packaged, but where there is a possibility of price constraints we shall advise our clients and agents of the available cheaper gorilla tracking options as compared to Rwanda gorilla safaris.

We have Congo gorilla safaris in Virunga National Park for Mountain gorillas and Kahuzi Biega National Park for lowland gorillas. We can still have clients arriving in Kigali and transferring to Goma the town nearest to the Congo gorilla destinations which is about 3 to 4 hours’ drive. The gorilla tracking permits fees in DRC Range from $250 to $500 which is far cheaper than the ones in Rwanda.

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda provides yet another cheaper gorilla tracking safari. Uganda boasts of the largest gorilla families with some having up 36 individuals and spread over vast forest land. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in two national parks of Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National parks. Gorilla trekking permit fees in Uganda range from $450 to $600 and have a fixed tariff that runs up to 31st December 2017. Permits can be purchased well in advance - even a year in advance.

Bwindi Impenetrable National park is further subdivided in 4 sectors of Buhoma (3 habituated gorilla families) in the northern part of Bwindi, Ruhija (4 habituated gorilla families) centrally located in the forest of Bwindi, Rushaga (5 habituated gorilla families) and Nkuringo (1 habituated gorilla family) in the southern sector of Bwindi.

Mgahinga gorilla national park is another gorilla destination in Uganda with 1 habituated gorilla family for tourists. Mgahinga Gorilla Park has a very beautiful scenery and is habitat to one of the most beautiful but endangered species of the monkey- golden monkey.

Gorilla safaris to Uganda can also be organized with tourists arriving in Kigali. The distance to some gorilla destinations in Uganda especially to Rushaga sector, Nkuringa Sector and Mgahinga are also short distances of about 3 to 4 hours’ drive.

Is distance and travel time a hindrance to your Uganda Gorilla Safari? This should not be the case anymore, we have daily scheduled flights from Entebbe international airport to sector of Bwindi and flights are less than 2 hours. A return flight to Bwindi can cost up to $600 per tourist and if you add the cost of a gorilla permit that can range up to $600 it gives you $1,200 which is cheaper than just a gorilla permit to volcanoes national park in Rwanda.

At East African Expeditions, we pride in customer tastes and preferences and endeavor to give our clients the best gorilla safari experiences to all of our gorilla destinations with a touch of quality. Do not hesitate to contact us while planning for your gorilla safari adventures to Africa.