How To Plan A Gorilla Trip By Yourself / Independently
Rwanda and Uganda are one of the three countries in the while World to undertake gorilla safaris (the other is Democratic Republic of Congo) but if you ever make up your mind to undertake the trip from this remarkable country, make sure to plan by yourself / independently because it is cheaper than doing it through the tour operator because most of them charge a commission. Therefore if you plan for Uganda safaris and tours by yourself, you will save a lot of money and yet it is very cumbersome and involves a lot of legwork.
Gorilla trekking within Rwanda is more expensive than it is within the other mentioned countries because permits cost $1500 per person while in Uganda it is $600 yet in the Democratic Republic of Congo it costs $400 but if you plan the safari by yourself, there are high chances that you will save more money if you plan or book for it independently.
Nonetheless, booking a gorilla safari by yourself depends on the period of time you will be spending within the gorilla destination in that if you have less time (1-3 days), you are advised to use the services of tour operators while if you are spending more days (6-10) days, it is advisable to plan or book for it by yourself. Therefore, the following are the important tips to allow you plan for the gorilla trekking safari in Uganda or Rwanda independently;
Do some Research (Gather enough Information) on the price of gorilla permits and pay in advance
The first step of undertaking a gorilla safari is by first inquiring on the availability of gorilla permits because this is your ticket to participating in this activity. This information can be accessed from the website of Rwanda Development Board, sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the reservation office on +252 57 65 14. For Uganda permits, information is available at Uganda Wildlife Authority (email@example.com, Telephone: +256 414 355000 and +256 312 355000). After being sure that permits are available for the date you wished to track the gorillas, book by paying 30% and this should be done at least 6 months in advance due to the high demand for the activity. Permits currently cost $1500 per person in Rwanda and US$600 per person in Uganda, paid in Bank or by cash and can be obtained from the RDB / UWA Head offices. The balance for gorilla permits is paid 3 months to the tracking date.
Get convenient transport means to the Gorilla detonations
In Rwanda, there are usually several local bus companies with comfortable buses leaving Kigali City for Ruhengeri and there is particularly a bus station in Nyabugogo where tickets can be booked charging from 2000 to 3000 francs per person and the journey takes at least 2 hours. Because the buses just stop at Ruhengeri, you will need to get private transport means (300 to 500 francs) especially special hire vehicles to Kinigi Park Headquarters lasting 20 to 30 minutes.
In Uganda, there are many bus companies from Kampala to Kisoro where you can easily connect to Mgahinga national park and Southern Bwindi National park. The journey is approximately 10 hours and charges between 25.000 and 35.000 Uganda Shillings. From the bus station, you can connect to your pre-booked hotel or to the gorilla park by private car hire.
Booking for a place of Stay
Intending gorilla trekkers are always advised to book for accommodation within or near the Park Headquarters and not very far away from the gorilla trekking starting point. Just like the gorilla permits, tourists are advised to deposit for the room in advance to avoid disappointment, then complete on the day of checking in. There are many gorilla safari Lodges within all gorilla parks in Rwanda and Uganda. In Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, Kinigi Guest Guest House is highly recommended because it is opposite the park Headquarters, less than 5 minutes walk to the headquarters.
Pack the right items
Any tourist planning to track the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park and Bwindi or Mgahinga National Parks needs to be prepared for life in the jungles-extreme coldness, dense vegetation and slippery/muddy ground during the rainy season. Therefore, make sure you don’t leave out the long sleeved shirts, long trousers, rain jacket, snacks, bottled water, waterproof hiking boots, hut, non-flash camera, binoculars, cotton socks, heavy sweater, gardening gloves and a backpack among others.
Self drive Rental and Camping
If you are a family, a group of friends or a couple planning a gorilla trip independently, you can save a lot of money when you rent a car without driver and drive your own adventure. Here, you share the cost of transport, fuel and accommodation. In other words, its cheaper to travel in group than sole. Please note, it must be a 4×4 car, and these are available from US$40 per day, for instance, Toyota Rav4, Land cruiser, Mini-vans, Prado, Suzuki Escudo, Honda CRV and many others.
Additionally, some car rental agencies rent out cars with a full camping gear, thus saving money on accommodations. A full camping gear is from US$5 per day and it includes a water proof tent (some times roof top tent), sleeping bags, mattress, camper table, chairs, kitchen ware, crockery, cooler box, storage box, jerrycan, lam and torch.
With the tips above, it is very possible to plan for a gorilla trip by yourself with enough information and booking for permits in advance, getting convenient transport means to from the airport to the gorilla parks, booking for a place of Stay and Packing the right items.