Effective 6th May 2017, the price of a Gorilla permit in Rwanda doubled from $750 to $1,500 something that has come as a big surprise and an upset to many travelers and tour operators at large. Rwanda Development board, the body responsible for the Gorilla permits and conservation, also introduced a special opportunity where it is possible to book the whole Gorilla family for a price of $15,000. This makes Rwanda Gorilla Trekking the most expensive in the region.
The Chief Executive Officer at Rwanda Development Board, Ms. Clare Akamanzi, explained that the move is meant to strengthen conservation efforts and increase revenue sharing with the communities around the Volcanoes Park which she said would move from 5% to 10%.
She described Gorilla trekking as a very unique experience and one they are looking to enhance and create great value for a visitor;
“Gorilla trekking is a highly unique experience. We have raised the price of permits in order to ensure sustainability of conservation initiatives and enhance visitors’ experience. We also want to make sure that the communities living near the park area receive a bigger share of tourism revenues to fund development projects and empower them economically.”
Tourists who visit the other parks including Akagera national park and Nyungwe forest national park for a minimum of 3 days however, receive a 30% discount on the Gorilla trekking permit which brings it down to $1,050.
Increasing the price of a Gorilla permit in Rwanda has erupted heated discussions on several forums and tourism circles as many argue that it will negatively impact the hotel industry because visitors will now prefer to stay for a day or 2 only while focusing on the Gorilla trek.
It is also possible, that visitors to Rwanda can still fly in and out of Kigali while tracking Gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga national parks where the Gorilla permit is still at $600 and $500 for foreign residents within East Africa, a move that could increase the treks in Uganda and take away tourists from Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park.
It remains a matter of discussion and tour operators and other industry players are keeping watch to see how it all goes.