Rwanda Doubled the Price of Gorilla Permits, There are Alternatives

Rwanda has doubled the price of gorilla permits from $750 to $1,500.

A member of my facebook group Every Passport Stamp shared the news. If this is the kind of travel topic of interest you you, join up.

Gorilla trekking is the most memorable wildlife encounter of my travels. Whatever the pro and cons of the permit fees, the reality is $750 was already prohibitve for many travelers, $1,500 will exclude even more. Those wanting a private experience can pay $15,000 to visit a gorilla family.

Rwanda is a popular choice to see the mountain gorillas for comparative logistical ease and perceived relative safety of the country.

Seeing the horrific sites of the Rwandan Genocide and contemplating the world community’s failure to help is an important experience for any thinking person.

The alternatives are Uganda and D.R. Congo.

Uganda:

Permits currently are $600, discounted to $450 in April, May and November. The main park is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Compared to Rwanda the logistics involve more overland from the nearby major airports, and reportedly, often longer hikes in tougher conditions for the trek itself.

D.R. Congo:

If you read past the header D.R. Congo, then you may be willing consider a visit.

Booking through Virunga National Park is a breeze compared to the options in the other countries. They arrange visa on arrival at Goma for many nationalities and pick you up at the immigration post. I was able to arrange my permit and visa with just a week advance notice.

The permit is $400. It gets more expensive than that because you almost certainly will rely on their ground transport, for practicality and security.

Virunga’s lodges are excellent, though you can save money by staying at a guest house in Goma.

Only in Congo can you camp overnight on the rim of the world’s largest lava lake at Mt Nyiragongo. It is awesome. You do need a moderate-high level of fitness for the half-day ascent.

See Virunga’s videos and the Netflix documentary Virunga to learn more.

I count gorilla trekking and Mt Nyiragongo among my top travel experiences.

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  • P T

    We did Bwindi in Uganda in 2012. Don’t wait til someday…. it’s a very strenuous but exhilarating experience. Highly recommend.

  • Precia Chesnutt Barrett

    Booked my Rwanda gorilla permits for 2018 before the price hike! OCD pays off! Can’t wait!

  • Bill Rubin

    As a gay couple who went to Rwanda in 2015, we’re glad we got it in before the doubling of the permit fee. We did 2 gorilla treks, costing $3000 for the two of us in permits. But because of the passage of anti-gay laws in Uganda, and the inability at the time to safely traverse DRC, Rwanda was our only real choice. For gay travelers, I’d still recommend Rwanda as well as the now-safer DRC. Uganda is too risky for gay travelers, since just being gay is criminal in that country.

  • TrAAveller

    I did the DRC gorillas and volcano this past November. It was simply amazing. The Virunga National Park service treks, transfers and accommodations can all be booked very easily on their website. There’s no need to book via a travel agent. The park website is very responsive and incredibly friendly. At no point did we feel unsafe. Due to the perceived danger of DRC, we had one of our two gorilla trekking days all to ourself…it was magical!

    And checkout these two TripAdvisor reviews for the volcano and gorillas. So many visitors raving about their experiences. The volcano trek is really challenging (you really should be in good physical shape…it’s a tough climb). But the views at the top are spectacular…and worth the effort. The guides are really fantastic. Email me for any questions or tips if you’re interested in setting something up. I booked it completely on my own.

    I’ve been to over 95 countries (slowly) and I can’t recommend this experience highly enough. Do it! You’ll not regret it.

    Virunga Volcano Trekking:
    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g303843-d556673-Reviews-Mount_Nyiragongo-Goma_North_Kivu_Province.html

    Virunga National Park (Gorillas)
    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g303843-d4783127-Reviews-Virunga_National_Park-Goma_North_Kivu_Province.html