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Nature and Wildlife

Uganda Wildlife Authority and Ministry of Tourism Address Flaws in Gorilla Permit Booking System

For travelers to Africa, gorilla trekking has often been a bucket-list activity. The popularity of this activity took a leap with the recent visit of renowned TV talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres. Her visit and the subsequent publicity have given this unique wildlife encounter a significant boost, attracting even more potential tourists to the gorillas’ homeland. The surge in popularity comes as the Rwanda Development Board has doubled the cost of the gorilla permit from $750 to $1,500 per person, making it the highest in the region. In comparison, the permit costs $600 in Uganda and $400 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

While the steep increase in the permit cost in Rwanda might make Uganda seem a more appealing alternative, the decision isn’t that straightforward. Each country offers a unique experience and different advantages. Ingrid Baas, general manager at Wilderness Safaris Rwanda, and Henk Graaff, managing director at SW Africa, agree that despite the higher permit cost, Rwanda offers great opportunities for gorilla trekking. Rwanda is considered to be less difficult in terms of terrain for tracking compared to Uganda. However, the altitudes can be higher, making it an activity for fit and active clients. Rwanda’s growing diversity with the reintroduction of lions and rhinos to Akagera National Park, and the opening of new luxury lodges, has also attracted a number of guests.

On the other hand, Uganda offers clear benefits when it comes to gorilla experiences. The main advantage of Uganda is that it is a significantly cheaper destination for a permit and offers a wider range of accommodations. However, gorilla trekking in Uganda can be more challenging as it often rains in Bwindi even in the dry season, making conditions slippery. Trekking time can vary greatly from day to day, from 30 minutes up to eight or nine hours. The vegetation can be very thick, hence the name Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Slopes can be steep, often steeper than a flight of stairs, and there are no trails.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Ministry of Tourism have admitted that there are flaws in the Gorilla Permit Booking System. These gaps, which were a result of internal actions within the agency, have led to undisclosed financial losses. The authorities are currently working on addressing these issues. The specific details of the financial impact and the plans to rectify the situation have not yet been revealed. As the gorilla trekking experience continues to gain popularity and attract more tourists. It is crucial that these issues are addressed to ensure the sustainability of this unique wildlife encounter.

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