Trekking through lush forests to catch a glimpse of rare mountain gorillas is one of the top attractions for travellers in East Africa – but the amazing experience comes at a price. As Rwanda recently announced it will double the price of its gorilla trekking permits to US$1500, tourism groups in neighbouring Uganda have said the country will not raise its prices from US$600 for a year.
Earlier this month, the Rwanda Development Board announced that the price of a permit would rise from US$750 to US$1500 for visitors immediately. Viewing mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is a huge draw, as there are only 880 of the endangered species left in the world. More than half live in the Virunga Mountains, which are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. The rest live in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
The board notes that tourists who also visit other national parks like Nyungwe and Akagera for a minimum of three days will receive a 30% discount on their permit. The move is in line with the country’s high-end tourism strategy and is aimed at strengthening conservation efforts and contributing more to developing communities living around Volcanoes National Park.
“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,” said Clare Akamanzi, the CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, in a statement.
And while Rwanda doubles its fees, Ugandan representatives have said prices will stay at US$600 for foreign non-residents for the next 12 months.