It came as a shock to everybody, when last week, the Rwanda government announced that
the price of a gorilla tracking permit would be doubled, from the already expensive $750, to a whopping $1500. The Ugandan Wildlife Authority quickly made the most of the situation by announcing that the cost of gorilla permits in Uganda would be remaining at $600. So why have the Rwandan government decided to go for this increase, and what is the knock-on effect for tourism in the region.
Why the Price Hike?
Rwanda wants to develop itself into a luxury safari destination. This was already the case with amazing lodges such as Sybinyo Silverback Lodge, Virunga Lodge and Nyungwe Forest Lodge (which come at an extravagant price). Their target is the more discerning traveler, were money is no object.
Another point to add is that there are far fewer gorillas in Rwanda than Uganda, so Rwanda has far fewer gorilla permits to sell, but still has the expensive business of conserving the habitat for these amazing animals.
So What Next?
Well for a company like East African Discovery, who’s main focus is to make tailor made
safari’s more affordable, I doubt that we will be selling many gorilla permits for that price. What we think will happen is that more and more people will be crossing the border, and doing their tracking in Uganda, before returning to Rwanda to continue their tour, or even combining both countries into their trip. This has been made easier with the introduction of the East Africa Tourist Visa a couple of years ago, which allows travel between the two countries (and Kenya) on one visa.
It is also a shame for the high quality, mid-range priced lodges that have been popping up in Rwanda over the past couple of years, who seem to not really fit in to the high-end direction that the government wants to take.
In conclusion, Rwnada is still an amazing pace to visit, with it’s amazing wildlife, beautiful scenery and fascinating culture, just if you are on a budget, then we recommend taking the short trip across the border and gorilla tracking in Uganda.