The price for a Rwandan mountain gorilla trekking permit went up from 50 USD to 1500 USD each person. Uganda the permit cost 600 USD and Congo mountain/low land gorillas cost 400 USD each.
There are only three countries where these magnificent and highly endangered great apes still survive Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo and it is most expensive to see them in Rwanda. None live in captivity in zoos; a number mountain gorillas inhabit the Virunga Massif ecosystem shared by Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, the DRC’s Virunga National Park, and Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park. Another live on a separate mountain in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
The gorilla trekking system is similar in all three countries, which cooperate in their conservation efforts and devote those high fees, in principle, to monitoring and protecting the species made famous by Dian Fossey’s memoir, Gorillas in the Mist, and movies like King Kong.
To avoid harassing the shy animals, just eight travelers per day (accompanied by park rangers and trackers) are permitted to hike in search of each gorilla family habituated to human observers.
Because gorillas are followed on a daily basis, a sighting in all the locations is virtually guaranteed. You need to be fit, because your path may take you up muddy, steep mountain slopes for several hours. Sometimes gorillas feed on lower slopes, or even raid farmer’s fields outside park boundaries; you might encounter them. Once gorillas are located, travelers are limited to one hour of observation and photography, and they must try to keep at least a distance from each animal and the primates.
Because foliage can be dense, clear views are not always possible. Gorilla mothers and babies might be high up a tree feeding or playing. Like human dads trying to escape the kids and grab some shut eye, the huge, charismatic silverbacks that everyone wants to photograph inconveniently like to nap inside dense thickets. Although it’s a crapshoot in what kind of vegetation and in what lighting conditions you will find gorillas on a given day, Rwanda offers the best prospects for unobstructed photographs because the upper slopes of Volcanoes Park have open meadows and stands of bamboo forest where leafy vegetation is not so thick.
Rwanda’s park, two hours by car and on good roads from the capital Kigali, is also the closest to an international airport. The Bwindi and Mgahinga can also easily be accessed from Rwanda its approx. 4-5 hours drive. Another alternative is landing at Entebbe Uganda, but that is a bit a long journey unless when the itinerary is long you first visit other parks. The Virunga National Park can be reached by a half-day road trip from Kigali, but you might encounter delays at the border securing a DRC tourist visa.
In terms of accommodation, each country offers great places to stay. Rwanda’s Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Uganda’s Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge and DRC’s Mikeno lodge. The Virunga Park headquarters that offers luxury accommodation to visitors. Entrance fees will contribute to the mountain gorillas’ survival.