Why is Gorilla Trekking More Expensive in Rwanda Than in Uganda

Gorilla trekking is an exhilarating adventure that attracts nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers from around the globe. Two East African countries, Uganda and Rwanda, stand out as premier destinations for this extraordinary experience. However, the costs associated with gorilla trekking vary significantly between the two nations. In this article, we delve into the factors contributing to these disparities, analyzing the economic, promotional, and geographical aspects that make Uganda a more affordable option compared to Rwanda.

The Silverback Gorilla affection

Uganda’s Competitive Edge:

The primary factor distinguishing Uganda as a more economical gorilla trekking destination is the cost of gorilla permits. Currently set at USD$700, Uganda’s permit is substantially cheaper than Rwanda’s USD$1500 per person per trek. This significant difference immediately makes Uganda an attractive option for budget-conscious travelers.

One reason for Rwanda’s higher costs is its deliberate positioning as a luxury destination. The country has invested in high-end properties around its national parks, each costing more than $700 per person per night. This luxurious approach caters to top-tier tourists but consequently raises the overall cost of a gorilla trekking experience in Rwanda.

Additionally, Rwanda’s extensive international advertising campaigns, exemplified by the ‘Visit Rwanda‘ partnership with Arsenal football shirts, contribute to its higher budget for tourism activities. On the other hand, Uganda allocates a smaller budget for global promotional efforts, focusing instead on positioning itself as an affordable destination for gorilla trekking.

Government Involvement and Location Dynamics:

Governments play a pivotal role in shaping the gorilla trekking landscape. Rwanda, with an aggressive tourism strategy backed by a substantial budget, can afford to increase permit and accommodation prices without compromising tourist interest. Uganda, however, relies on affordability as its selling point, attracting a larger volume of visitors.

The geographical location of gorilla trekking parks also influences costs. Rwanda’s parks are closer to the airport, offering convenience to tourists but contributing to the higher overall expense. In contrast, Uganda boasts a larger number of gorilla families open for tourism (19 compared to Rwanda’s 12), providing more permit chances and making it a favorable choice for budget travelers.

Competition and Accommodation Costs:


The level of competition among tour operators further differentiates the two countries. Uganda, with a higher number of tour operators, experiences intense competition that results in lower gorilla trekking package prices. In Rwanda, where tour operators are fewer, the lack of competition allows for higher pricing.

Moreover, the costs of lodges in the gorilla trekking areas also impact overall expenses. Lodges in Volcanoes National Park and Kigali are notably more expensive than those in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park. This disparity in accommodation costs significantly contributes to the overall affordability of gorilla trekking in Uganda.

Other Factors Influencing Costs:

Seasonal variations and service availability impact gorilla trekking prices in both countries. Rwanda’s reliance on higher fees contributes to its wildlife conservation fund, as opposed to Uganda, which can diversify its revenue streams through various tourism activities.

Road conditions from airports to gorilla trekking locations also play a role in pricing. Rwanda’s well-maintained, fully tarmacked roads contribute to higher safari costs, while Uganda’s more challenging terrains lead to slightly lowered prices to attract tourists.

In conclusion,

the cost disparities in gorilla trekking between Uganda and Rwanda stem from a complex interplay of factors, including permit pricing, government strategies, geographical locations, competition among tour operators, and accommodation costs. While Rwanda positions itself as a luxury destination with a higher budget for international promotions, Uganda focuses on affordability, leveraging its competitive advantage to attract budget-conscious travelers. Understanding these dynamics enables prospective gorilla trekkers to make informed decisions based on their preferences, budget constraints, and the desire to explore the unique offerings of each East African nation. Whether one seeks a luxurious experience or a more budget-friendly adventure, both Uganda and Rwanda provide an opportunity to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of gorillas in their natural habitat.