Sometimes you have to cut costs so that your gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda, Rwanda or Congo don’t strain your pockets so much. This is where budget gorilla trekking comes into play.
Feel free to contact these recommended trekking companies for an affordable experience.
Surprisingly, most people think of it as cheap gorilla trekking which is wrong. These are two different words with different meanings.
Gorilla trekking is not cheap! A gorilla permit puts your safari high by $1500, $600 and $400 in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo respectively. I will explain more about this later on in the article.
I will also try to compare each country’s experience. The budget gorilla trekking Uganda experience is not the same as the budget gorilla trekking Rwanda experience or budget gorilla trekking Congo experience.
These are all different. I will also point out the best country you can go to for a budget encounter with gorillas.
I have come up with a perfect list of operators i believe will organize for you a lifetime affordable experience with the gorillas. You can see the list here.
How are budget gorilla safaris different from cheap gorilla trekking
Budget gorilla trekking is not same as cheap gorilla trekking. Booking a budget safari can still guarantee you the most comfortable facilities for a certain amount of money. You should never think these two words mean the same because people misinterpret them.
When you book cheap gorilla trekking, your tour operator ensures your safari becomes are cheap as possible. In some scenarios, tents may be hired for you or you get to sleep at some of the cheapest community gorilla safari lodges.
I’d recommend you book a budget gorilla safari. Some tour operators can still organize for you a near upmarket experience for a budget booking.
Budget gorilla tours by country
As mentioned earlier, each country offers its own kind of experience. Besides, not all countries favor budget tours. A country like Rwanda is a no go for budget gorilla tours as their gorilla permits alone cost $1500 each.
Congo would have been a better deal but the insecurity in the country has kept so many tourists away. Much as Virunga Foundation claimed they are hiring an international security agency to guard Virunga National Park, the world is yet to see how much stability this will bring.
Uganda is undoubtedly the best place in the world for budget gorilla trekking safaris. Gorilla permits here cost only $600 each. This partly explains why so many clients book Uganda gorilla trekking safaris from Kigali.
Booking gorilla safaris from Entebbe will keep you traveling for long. You will spend between 16 to 20 hours traveling to and from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (8 – 10 hours per journey).
If you book Kigali to Bwindi gorilla trekking, you will spend a maximum of 8 – 10 hours traveling to and from Kigali in Rwanda (4 – 5 hours per journey).
Factors to consider when booking a Budget gorilla tour
There are not so many factors to consider when booking a budget safari. I will list down the most important factors that are likely to hugely impact on the price of your gorilla tour. I will not talk much about flights as this solely depends on you.
Below are some of the factors to consider when booking a budget gorilla safaris.
Your Travel Agency
One mistake you should never make is going for high profile companies or book through a travel agent. High profile travel companies have made a brand and will always charge you a crazy amount for a tour. A travel agent on the other hand will also want to make a profit out of your safari.
The best option is searching for operators online. Google usually gives the best results so i recommend using it ahead of other search engines. Alternatively, you can book through these recommended trekking operators.
Make sure you book with a company that is based in Rwanda or Uganda. Do not book your gorilla safari with a Kenyan company, Tanzanian company or any company outside Rwanda and Uganda.
The local tour operators usually have low operational costs and will give you the best quote.
Gorilla Trekking Destination
A gorilla permit in Rwanda costs $1500 each where as it costs $600 and $400 in Uganda and Congo respectively. The destination you choose greatly determines the amount you are going to pay for your safari.
Uganda is a perfect place for budget safaris. So many clients nowadays book Uganda gorilla safaris from Kigali because they want to save on permits and time. I suggest you do the same too.
If you feel like seeing Rwanda gorillas, be prepared to cough the $1500 permit fees. You can still opt for basic accommodation and lower your days though to cut down on costs.
Choice of Accommodation
Gorilla safari lodges play a huge part to your safari. I would suggest you book comfortable accommodation. Do not allow your tour operator to book lodges that are too cheap as it will ruin your trip.
When you go tracking, you return to your lodge to relax and if you do not feel comfortable with your accommodation then you won’t enjoy your trip they way you should have done. Some of these cheap lodges have broken sinks, water problems in the bathrooms and so on.
Not all of the suck though.
Its your travel company’s obligation to negotiate for better rates on accommodation and extend such offers to you. Such operators are hard to find.
They can offer you a lodge that costs $250 at $150 because of existing contracts they have with the lodges as per the number of sales they send in monthly.
This way you get to enjoy a mid-range facility for a budget price which is a good deal i should say.
I know about 2 of them and if you contact me, i will avail them to you.
Gorilla Trekking Repetitions
A gorilla trekking permit entitles you to only one gorilla encounter. Some tourists think 1 permit lets you see gorillas twice or even thrice. This is wrong! You will need to buy permits for each of your encounters.
Reducing the number of times you trek gorillas will save you money. If you are on a budget, do not trek gorillas twice or thrice unless you feel you really have to.
Gorilla permits are expensive and that’s the fact.
Your Safari Car
A safari van is usually quoted at $100 per day where as a Land Cruiser goes for $250 – 300 per day. This depends on your tour operator as some operators charge less. Nevertheless, the charge above is the industry standard.
Opt for a safari van, super custom in particular if you may. These cars can sometime mean to be more comfortable that land cruisers.
Only ensure they are 4 wheel and not 2 wheel drive. Ugandan roads can get muddy at times hence, a 4wd safari car is highly recommended.
Number of Days
The fewer your days, the less you’ll spend. A five – ten days safari cannot cost the same as a 2 – 3 days safari.
If your main aim is seeing gorillas, booking a 2 days Uganda gorilla tour from Kigali is a good option and you should consider it.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’s proximity to Kigali has made it easier for clients to arrive in Kigali and transfer to Bwindi on the same day then trek gorillas and transfer to Kigali on the same day too. This way, you can see gorillas on a budget in 2 days.
Where you arrive from
Arriving from Uganda is a bit costly. Its impossible to arrive and transfer to Bwindi on the same day unless your flight reaches earlier than 0700 hours.
Besides i would not recommend this. Imagine sitting on a flight for 6 – 8 hours then you arrive and take on another 8 – 10 hours journey to Bwindi. Either way, you will have to spend a day / night in Kampala or Entebbe then transfer to Bwindi the following day.
This is costly because you will have to pay for accommodation, meals, airport transfer plus a few more costs that may arise.
So where should you arrive from? Arriving in Kigali and driving to Bwindi is the best option. It is only 4 – 5 hours from Kigali to Bwindi with a stopover. You can arrive and transfer to Bwindi on the same day and won’t need to spend money on accommodation for the first night.
You can read more about such safaris here.
Best country for Budget gorilla trekking
So which is the best country to go for a budget gorilla trekking experience? Uganda should be your destination if you want a good budget gorilla safari.
Bwindi is the best place to see gorillas in Africa. The popular national park shelters over half the remaining population of mountain gorillas in the world.This is another advantage.
Bwindi has four sectors ie. Rushaga, Buhoma, Nkuringo and Ruhija. Each sector has its own gorilla families and accommodation facilities.
Buhoma is however expensive. Think of trekking any of the mountain gorilla families in the Rushaga sector for a budget experience.
I have selected a list of companies that will organize for you stunning budget gorilla tours in Uganda. You can view them here.