Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) wishes to inform the public that in line with efforts to harmonise management of gorilla tourism in the region, the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have agreed to work towards harmonisation of the gorilla tracking fees in all the 3 countries. Based on the prevailing socio-political environment in the respective countries as a first step Uganda and Rwanda have agreed to charge US$500 per permit for foreign non-residents effective July 1, 2007. East Africans and foreign residents will pay US$475 per permit, while Ugandans will now pay Ush150,000. Bookings with the new rates already started as permits can be booked up to 2 years in advance.
Although it is only four months since UWA increased the gorilla permits from US$360 to US$375, recent regional events have necessitated that the fees be reviewed after only a brief span of three months. Tariffs for other tourist activities and services will remain unchanged as per the 2006-2008 tariff rates.
Uniform pricing for gorilla tourism will help to strengthen the already existing collaborative management arrangements between the three countries especially in the areas of research, monitoring, eco-tourism, and community-based conservation.
It will also help facilitate the sharing of resources in cases where tourism activities are undertaken by a host country using the migratory gorilla groups such as the Nyakagezi group, which migrated from Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda into Rwanda.
In a May 2006 Memorandum of Understanding that was signed between Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA)-Uganda, Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN)-Rwanda and Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN)-Democratic Republic of Congo, it was agreed that migratory gorilla groups such as the Nyakagezi group could be utilised for tourism activities by the host country, which would then share the accruing revenue with the country of origin at a 50-50 ratio.
(NB: The country of origin is the one that habituated the gorillas, while the host county is the one where they migrated to.)
All three countries offer gorilla trekking as one of the main tourism activity, and various tour companies operate in all three countries, which necessitated harmonising the procedures for booking gorilla permits, giving refunds, giving incentives to the private sector, as well as the general gorilla rules.
In October 2005, the Ministers of Tourism in the three countries signed a declaration of support for formalising the transboundary collaborative management of the gorilla national parks especially in the areas of research, monitoring and tourism.
The three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have the only remaining mountain gorillas in the world, about 700 in total. Over half of these are found in Uganda.
Civil and political conflicts, poaching, illegal trade and habitat destruction contributed to the decline in the population of gorillas over the past decades, but increased vigilance in law enforcement as well as a stronger working relationship with the local communities have helped stem the decline in recent years and now the gorilla population is actually increasing.
Uganda has four habituated gorilla groups, each of which is allowed 8 a maximum of visitors per day. UWA provides gorilla trekking services on a daily basis, and trekking can last between a few hours to a whole day.
Tourist visitors to Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks, 1994 – 2005
.NB: It should be noted that not all the visitors to the park actually tracked gorillas. Many others did nature walks, bird watching and hiking.
Uganda Wildlife Authority welcomes Ugandans to visit the gorillas at a small fee of Ush150,000.