What is the cost of a gorilla tour in Uganda?

Gorilla trekking is number one in the top things to do in Uganda. Many tourists visiting Africa for safaris will include a detour to Uganda for just the gorilla trek. Many however are put off by the cost of a gorilla trip in Uganda and do not know what really makes the trip expensive.

Below I will guide on the costs involved in a gorilla trip, and how one can, may be, get a cheap gorilla tour in Uganda.

Gorilla tracking permits

The gorilla trekking permit or pass or ticket, is the most important item of the gorilla trip. It is also a significant cost of the trip.

The price of the gorilla permit in Uganda is USD 700 for international tourists visiting Uganda. The price is different for the locals, and foreign east African residents.

The price of the gorilla permit does not change.

When booking a gorilla trip ensure that your gorilla permit has been purchased at the time of booking because the permits are limited and sell out quite fast. A maximum of 8 persons can track a gorilla family in a day, and there are only about 15 habituated gorilla families.

Note that the Uganda gorilla permit is way cheaper compared to the Rwanda gorilla trekking permit which is USD 1500. But there are also advantages of tracking gorillas in Rwanda vs Uganda and you can read this article where I compare gorilla trekking in Uganda vs Rwanda.

Accommodation and meals

The gorilla parks Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are located far from Kampala and Entebbe which are normally the starting points for a gorilla trip in Uganda. The journey by road is about 8hours drive.

That means you can not visit the gorillas in one day.

You need to overnight near the park before the gorilla trek, and then also after gorilla trekking because you may return from the park in the late afternoon and you can’t drive back to Kampala or Entebbe immediately.

In short, you need at least 2 nights of accommodation near the park.

Accommodation is a varying cost as there are different types of lodging/hotels ranging; basic camping, budget, midrange and luxury lodges. So you choose accommodation depending on your budget and the level of comfort that you need.

An overview of the pricing of the different accommodation types:

Budget cost between USD70 – USD150

Midrange cost between USD250 – USD400

Luxury cost USD600+

Transportation to gorillas

The distance from Kampala or Entebbe to the parks is more than 500km so obviously you need transportation.

You can travel by air or by road using a car.

Traveling by air is more costly with a return ticket by Aerolink costing close to 500USD (USD 472 for 2021 – 2022)

Most trips are by road with a car. Most of the road is smooth tarmac/paved but the feeder roads to the parks and within the parks are untarmacked/unpaved and rough so needing a four-wheel car.

We use two types of cars, the tour vans and the bigger customized safari land cruisers. Both are four-wheel drive, but during the long rainy season from Mar to May, a land cruiser may be preferred because the roads become so slippery and a much more stable car like the safari land cruiser is a better choice.

The tour vans cost about 70USD per day. While the land cruisers cost 150 USD per day.

Fuel consumed is about 200 USD

The tour driver is paid about 60 USD per day.


For your gorilla trek you can take a porter which I highly recommend because the time taken to find the gorillas is unpredictable & the terrain is quite rugged and mountainous, so it can be very tiring and challenging if for the seasoned hikers. The porter is very helpful in carrying your daypack and provide a push or pull where needed during the trek.

The porters are hired at $15

Taking a porter is also one way of directly supporting the locals.


Tipping is not compulsory, however recommended as one of the ways to directly put some money in the pockets of the locals.

You expect to tip the following people and the amount I can recommend. You can always tip more or less.

Tour driver ($15 – $20 per day), park guide ($15), porter ($10), about 2 lodge waiter/waitresses ($5 – $10)


You can support the local artisans by purchasing some of their items. Items include printed t-shirts, small wooden curvings of gorillas, crafted trekking sticks, etc… The items cost from $15 to $30

Items Cost
Gorilla tracking permit
Tour car *multiply by number of days
Tour driver *multiply by number of days
Hotel on full board *multiply by number of nights


Latest 2021 covid 19 guidelines for visiting Rwanda – lockdown guidelines for tourists and organizing tours in Rwanda

Life in Rwanda was getting back to near normal until the Delta variant of the sars-cov-2 virus arrived in June of 2021.

Today is 23rd July 2021 and as I write this, Rwanda is facing the 3rd wave of the covid 19 pandemic because of the highly transmissible Delta variant. Rwanda was forced to reinstate the stricter guidelines to curb the ravaging Delta variant, including stopping public transport, putting curfew from 6pm to 5am. Some districts of the country that are more infected have been placed under total lockdown with no movement allowed except for most essential and no business (except essentials) allowed to operate, and one of these districts is Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. While inter district travel is forbidden throughout Rwanda.

Luckily, tourism is still open and tourists are allowed to fly into Rwanda and visit Rwanda’s different tourism destinations all of which are open (here are top things to do and see in Rwanda). So you can continue planning your gorilla trek, chimpanzee trek or wildlife safari trip to Akagera Park. But there are guidelines to be followed by all tourism players so as to ensure safety and prevent any farther spread of the virus. You may find the guidelines quite bureaucratic but this is to ensure your safety and that of the locals.

Note that nearly all tourism and hospitability personnel in Rwanda have been vaccinated against covid 19 and these include personnel at parks and other tour destinations, tour guides/drivers, tourist hotels staff.

Planning to visit Rwanda during this latest development of the pandemic and have many questions about what to expect and what guidelines you are to go through? We at Nature Trails East Africa have so far organized two birding trips in Rwanda during this pandemic time and below I shall take you through the guidelines and processes tourists go through, plus also answer some frequently asked questions:

How to prepare before traveling to Rwanda?

1. Take a covid test

You are required to take a covid 19 PCR test, and have a negative result within 72 hours (3 days) to the time of arrival in Rwanda. Note that the 72 hours is counted from the time of collecting your samples.

It does not matter whether you are fully vaccinated, you must take the Covid 19 test and have negative results.

You will print out the results that you shall present on arrival at Kigali International Airport.

2. Book a 24-hour quarantine hotel at your cost

You will undergo another covid 19 test upon arrival in Rwanda and quarantine in a hotel for 24 hours as you wait for your results. Therefore, before traveling to Rwanda you must book a hotel for the 24hrs. There is a list of designated quarantine hotels of different budgets. Book the hotel and receive a confirmation from the hotel which you shall also present on arrival. Here is a list of designated hotels. https://travel.rbc.gov.rw/travel/src/Designated%20Hotels.pdf

You will pay for the hotel at checking in.

3. Fill the Passenger Locator Form

Next, you must fill the Passenger Locator Form before taking your flight to Rwanda. Here is the link to the form: https://travel.rbc.gov.rw/travel/ The Passenger Locator Form is an online portal Rwanda will use to follow you up in case you or someone you are traveling with has developed covid 19 symptoms. You will also use this platform to track your covid 19 test results as they will posted to your registered account. To fill this form, you must have booked your flight, done your test, and booked your quarantine hotel and received the confirmation. You can fill the locator form a few hours to taking the flight.

Arrival at the airport

1. Another mandatory test on arrival at your cost

On arrival at the airport, you will be warmly received by the immigration officers, your covid 19 negative test document & hotel confirmation checked.

You will pay for your covid test which is USD60 that you can pay in cash or using your visa card.

You will then proceed to waiting nurses in nicely set up testing tents where they will collect samples from your throat.

You will be given a printed receipt confirming that your samples have been collected for the test, and the receipt also includes a unique ID number that you will use to check your results by texting a code on the phone, or logging into the passenger locater. You will be guided on how to do this.

After sample collection you will continue to the immigrations’ booths for visa clearance and you continue to the exit.

2. 24 hour Hotel Quarantine

At the exit, you fill find an airport official with a list of all arrivals and their respective quarantine hotels they booked.

Your hotel driver will be waiting, you get into the car and driven to the hotel for your 24 hour quarantine as you wait for your results.

The results come back within 24 hours, and typically by after 8 – 12 hours most travelers have received theirs. You will check for your results after this time by logging into Passenger Locater Form platform or dialing the code on your phone. The hotel will also keep checking for you.

Otherwise you are not allowed to leave your room until your results are back (negative). All meals will be provided in your room.

Once the hotel confirms your negative results you will be free to leave your room and continue with your travels.

3. 7 Days hotel quarantine for passengers coming from Uganda and India.

Rwanda recognizes neighboring Uganda, and India as countries with highest infections of the sars-cov-2 virus (especially the Delta variant) and all travelers coming from these two countries, or have been to these two countries in the last seven days mush undergo a 7 day quarantine time instead of 24 hours. This is to eliminate any possibility of the variant slipping through.

There is another set of designated 7 day quarantine hotels different from the 24 hour. They are listed here https://travel.rbc.gov.rw/travel/

This is also at your own cost.

The 7 day quarantine can take a toll on you. In case you are not ready for it and yet you have to travel to Rwanda, you can transit through another country (say Kenya) and spend a week before continuing to Rwanda. This way you will only do the 24 hours hotel quarantine

4. What happens if I test positive on arrival in Rwanda?

If your results come back positive, you will be picked from the hotel and taken to a health facility where you will be treated.

All treatment is at your own cost.

Once you test negative you will be free to continue with your travels in Rwanda.

Traveling in Rwanda during lockdown

Inter district travel is not permitted, but tourists can travel throughout Rwanda and cross the different districts after attaining a pass/permit issued by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

The requirements to get a pass are: a negative covid 19 test done in the last 120 hours, and a confirmation from your destination e.g. hotel booking or activity do in the park.

Visiting the Rwanda parks during the pandemic and lockdown

Rwanda has 4 national parks including Volcanoes National Park, Akagera National Park, Nyungwe National Park and Gishwati – Mukura National Park.

All the above parks are open for tours.

However, each park requires having a negative covid test result of within 72 hours before visiting the park.

The primate parks which are Volcanoes National Park (gorillas, golden monkeys), Nyungwe National Park (chimpanzees and monkeys) & Gishwati – Mukura national park (chimps & monkeys) require a PCR test which takes longer to get results coming back within 24 hours. Therefore plan accordingly.

PCR testing centers in Rwanda can be found in districts of Kigali, Musanze near Volcanoes National Park, and Rubavu district. There is no PCR testing center near Nyungwe National Park

A rapid test is enough to visit Akagera National Park. Rapid test results take only 15 minutes.

Leaving Rwanda

You are required to have a negative PCR test result within 72 hours before your departure flight.

Cost of a gorilla trip in Rwanda – breaking down the pricing of the gorilla safari

The gorilla trekking/tracking safari is one of, if not the most popular tour in Rwanda. It is however also the most expensive tour. At Nature Trails East Africa we get a number of inquiries from travelers wanting to book the gorilla safari (especially our 2 day gorilla trip) but most are put off by the price we send them, and many even think we are trying to rip them off.. However we do not intend to make the trip costly, if anything we try to cost as low as possible.

Below I will take you through the pricing of a Rwanda gorilla trip, what takes up the biggest chunk of the cost, the variables that you can touch to change the price and constants that can’t be changed.

Gorilla tracking permits

This is the first and most important item of the gorilla trip. The gorilla tracking permit/pass/ticket allows you track the gorillas. Only a limited number of permits are available in a day as a maximum 8 people can track one gorilla family and the park has about 10 habituated families.

The cost of the Rwanda gorilla trekking permit is 1500USD

The gorilla permit is non-negotiable and can’t change.

The permit accounts for the biggest cost of the gorilla safari price.

Transportation to Volcanoes National Park

The gorilla trekking takes place in Volcanoes National Park in the north of Rwanda. It is about 100km from the capital Kigali and the international airport. So you need transportation to the park.

You can go by road using car, or take a flight with Akagera Aviation for those that have the finances.

Most trips are by road and so pricing is as follows:

So, we do consider at the minimum a comfortable SUV. With a Maximum 3 people we would use a big SUV such as the Land Cruiser TX. More than 3 people we would use the bigger 4X4 safari cars i.e. 5 or 7-seaster land cruiser stretch.

A nice SUV goes for about 100USD per day. Then the bigger safari car goes for about 150USD per day. This car cost is without fuel.

The car will consume fuel/gas/petrol of about 70 – 90USD, depending on engine size. This is for the whole trip starting from Kigali going to the park and back to Kigali.

The cost of the tour driver of the car is 50USD per day.

Transportation costs can vary depending on number of people traveling and sharing a car so that the cost is shared per person.

Accommodation (with meals)

Accommodation is another significant cost of the trip, however this is also a highly varying cost depending on the type of lodging you want, as you can select from basic camping, budget lodge, midrange, upmarket, luxury or the costliest high end.

Nice budget lodge can cost between 60 – 100USD per night.

Midrange lodge can cost between 150 – 250USD per night

Upmarket or upper midrange lodge cost between 300USD – 400USD per night

Luxury lodge cost between 500USD – 700USD per night

High end lodes cost from 1000USD and upward

Other costs of the gorilla trip you may incur but are optional

Porters for the trek

For 10USD porters are available for hire during the gorilla trek.

Hiring a porter is optional, but highly recommended. The porter helps carry your daypack or other items you take for the trek, and also provide a push or pull where you need one in the rugged mountains. Also, you are directly giving back to the community when taking one.


Tips are also optional, but you are advised to tip.

People to tip include and approximate amount:

Tour driver (10USD per day), about waiters/waitresses at your hotel (5USD each), your park guide who is leading the group during the gorilla trek (10 – 15USD), the armed military person who escorts the trekking group (5USD), and your porter (5USD).

The amount indicated is what I can advise, but you are free to give more or less depending on how satisfied you are with the service.

Buying souvenirs

At the end of the gorilla trek you can purchase some souvenirs and support the community. The common souvenirs include a t-shirt with some gorilla wording and pictures, and small sculpture of a gorilla. These cost between 5USD – 20USD each.

In brief, basing on the above you can fill out the following for a rough cost of a gorilla trip

Items Cost
Gorilla tracking permit
Tour car *multiply by number of days
Tour driver *multiply by number of days
Hotel on full board *multiply by number of nights

How to get a cheap gorilla tour

Going for the cheaper accommodation is one way of bring the cost of the gorilla trip down

Transport can be shared so, if you travel with others the cost of transportation is shared among the travelers.

Can I get Cheaper gorilla tracking permit?

Rwanda has the most expensive gorilla trekking permit. However, the Uganda gorilla trekking permit is way cheaper costing 700USD.

You can fly into Rwanda and go gorilla trekking in Uganda. The gorilla parks in Uganda are an extra hour’s drive.

Is it safe to track chimps in Uganda?

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda gives you the opportunity to trek a forest and see up close chimpanzees in their natural home, without a barrier. This is a unique experience because chimps in many parts of the world are seen in zoos from a safe place behind a fence. So the idea of trekking the jungles to see wild chimps raises concerns as to whether it is safe?

Below I give some guide and assurance

The chimps are known to be wild and violent, won’t I be attacked during the chimpanzee tracking?

True, chimpanzees are some of the most violent creatures, no wander they are our closest relatives! They are also very powerful, that the strength of one grown chimp is said to be equal to the strength of five energetic human males. On the internet you can find many gruesome pictures of humans that have been attacked by chimps and these can worry you if you are planning to include chimpanzee tracking on your African safari.

However, you will be tracking habituated chimpanzees. Chimpanzee habituation is a long process taking several years where trained park personnel make frequent visits to the chimps till the time chimps realize these humans do not pose a threat to them and will stop running away or won’t attack them. The chimps see these park personnel as friendly since during the habituation they will carry some goodies such as bananas.

Make no mistake, the habituated chimps are still wild and can make an attack. However, as long as they see among the tourist group the park personnel who they regard as friends they will not become violent.

Once some tourists who didn’t want to pay for the chimpanzee tracking activity went into Budongo forest without the knowledge of the park authorities so they could track the chimps on their own. The tourists found the chimps but once the chimps didn’t see any familiar faces (park guides) among the tourists they became suspicious of the group, got agitated and started roughing up the tourists who fled for their lives while the chimps gave them a chase. It is was the park authorities that heard screaming tourists that run in to rescue them.

So, you will NOT be attacked by the chimps because you will be tracking a chimp community that has undergone habituation and you will be led by park guides who are known to the chimps and these park guides also know what to do in case the chimps become moody.

How about other dangerous animals in the forests?

Several other animals can be found in the forests, such as elephants, leopard, buffaloes, non-habituated chimps, etc… These are not habituated of course and can cause a danger if encountered at close quarter. However these are also quite shy and elusive and in most cases flee before you see them. However nothing is left to chance, so for each tourist group tracking the chimps there is an armed ranger who will shoot in the air to scare away any animal that may seem it could attack the group.

This 2 day Kibale chimpanzee trip and the 3 day Kibale chimpanzee tour are some of the best short trips to track chimps in Uganda.

Is it safe to track gorillas in Uganda


Below are some of the safety questions or concerns that tourists have when deciding to do the gorilla trekking in Uganda.

Won’t the gorillas attack me during the gorilla tracking?

The gorillas are wild animals and like other wild animals their natural instinct of survival is to attack or flee when they feel threatened by another species in their space. And indeed, gorillas being the strongest primate, that the strength of one grown male gorilla is said to be equal to the strength of about 8 energetic male humans, an attack from a gorilla would be fatal.

However, the possibility of being attacked by the gorillas during the watching are very minimal because the gorillas you will track are habituated. Habituation of the gorillas is the process of getting the gorillas to accept humans in their space without seeing them as threats. This is through continuous contact with the gorillas over a long period of time (more than 3 years) until the gorillas notice the humans mean no harm & will begin to feel relaxed in their presence. The habituation is done by trained park personnel.

When you track the gorillas you are in company of park guides who are known by the gorillas and who have been habituating the gorillas. These park guides are able to read the moods of these gorillas & know the characters of each gorilla and shall guide the tourists on how to carry themselves while with the gorillas and advise on what to do in certain situations. The guides also know the different vocalizations of the gorillas and will communicate with the gorillas to make them feel comfortable.

Also, importantly, the gorillas recognize the familiar faces of the park guides and thus will accept the rest of the tourist groups on seeing their ‘friends’ in the group.

Can I be attacked by other wild animals in the jungle during the trek?

There are other wild animals in the jungle other than the gorillas and of course these are not habituated. First of all, you can still find unhabituated gorillas who are aggressive and violent. Elephants, buffaloes, and leopards are plenty in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (which is the number one gorilla trekking destination in Uganda). However these animals are very hard to encounter because they are shy and naturally flee at the slightest sensing of humans approaching. In most cases you will see only foot prints or droppings, and if lucky may just catch a glimpse of them disappearing into the jungle.

However, an encounter cannot be ruled out completely and once in a while it occurs. So for protection you will be in company of an armed personnel whose first order is to shoot in the air to scare away an animal.

Are the jungles secure from wrong people?

This is a very valid question. Many years ago the jungles were a haven for wrong doers such as criminals hiding from justice, kidnappers, rebels, poachers, etc… In 1999 the most unfortunate of incidents happened and what is the darkest time in the history of gorilla tracking in Uganda, 8 tourists were attacked by rebels while on the trek in Bwindi forest and killed.

However, the jungles of Bwindi have since been pacified of all wrong elements. The armed forces continuously patrol the jungles. Most of the wrong elements sneaked in from the neighboring DR Congo but the Uganda army and security apparatus since established surveillance posts along the border and further created an intelligence & security buffer into the Congo to eliminate any potential threat.

So the jungle is safe and there has not been any incident of an attack on tourists tracking gorillas for the last so many years