You can see mountain gorillas in two places in Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Most travellers flock to Bwindi because a larger number of gorillas reside there. However, we like Mgahinga National Park because there’s only one gorilla family here, but it includes five adult silverback males, which is the highest concentration of silverbacks in any gorilla family in all of East Africa.
Many people think you need to save up millions before you go on an African safari and have an enjoyable experience, but that is not the case. You can have an amazing experience even if you do not have millions to pay for the very best in everything. African safaris are generally quite expensive but we have a few tips on how you can save money and enjoy a budget safari in Uganda.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda on a budget is very possible, especially during the low season. The price of mountain gorilla permits in Uganda is reduced to US$450 during the low season, compared to US$600 in peak season.
The discounted mountain gorilla permits are issued out to counteract the lower number of trekkers during this season, thereby ensuring continuous arrivals for gorilla safaris in the country.
Permits are not only cheaper, but also easy to obtain due to low demand. This saves the trekker’s time in booking for – and receiving – the permit. Why not go for this offer?
Gorilla Trekking in the low season provides travelers with a closer interaction with the gorillas. Fewer people in the parks mean that there is no congestion. Because of this, the number of people allocated to each gorilla family is reduced from eight down to a lower number, giving trekkers a more personal interaction with the gorillas..
Besides the discounted gorilla permit prices, the cost of services in lodges and hotels during the low season are also reduced due to the low occupancy rates. This means that travellers receive high-quality services at a reduced price, which is not always the case in the high season. The same also goes for air tickets as they are also offered at a low rate.
The low season occurs during the rainy months of February through to May, and November, but this does not affect trekking. Mountain gorillas live in tropical rain forests where rain can occur any time despite the season. Additionally, forest vegetation becomes very green and lush during this time – the perfect setting for some great photographs!
Travelling in a group is a good way to cut costs including transport and entrance fees compared to when you are a single traveller.
Book your trip well in advance:
If you intend to travel during the peak season, or want to go gorilla trekking, make sure you book your trip early. Book with a safari company preferably one in Uganda. The peak season is June, July, August, December and January. Book with a Safari company early enough, so they can make the necessary arrangements for you.
Many people visit Uganda in those months that make up the peak season, so many lodging facilities are fully booked, especially the good affordable ones. So if you book early, the safari company can make your reservation at the guest house or hotel, or lodge early, and you will not have to spend much more on more expensive and costly lodging because the good budget accommodation is all taken.
Travel as a group:
A budget safari in Uganda with a group of four to six friends, or family is not only much more fun but also lessens the pressure on your wallet. In a group, the price per person goes down because you share the costs. Although park entry fees, food and accommodation prices might not change, the transport costs will change. And transport cost is one of the cost factors for a Uganda safari trip. As a group you share the vehicle and transport costs, unlike a solo safari where you foot the entire transport cost alone.
Use Budget Vehicles:
you can travel around Uganda by bus, whether you are travelling in a group or on your own. If you are travelling in a group and want to stick to a budget safari, you can let your tour operator make budget vehicle arrangements for you. It is cheaper to make vehicle arrangements through a safari company, than on your own. Chances are prices will be hiked if you approach service providers on your own and your budget safari will end up not being so budget after all. Many safari companies have company vehicles that they use to transport their clients, at a cost of course, but often the price is reasonable and within your stated budget.
Budget for Moderate lodging Facilities:
Lodging is another major cost factor for a Uganda safari. You can cut costs by staying in budget or moderately priced hotels and lodging facilities. Prices of lodging in or around the game parks can be as high as $400 per day full board.
Ugandan Visas: while you can buy a Ugandan visa from your home country, it comes with extra charges for mailing and passport photos. If you come to Uganda, you can buy a visa at Entebbe airport, at only $50, no mailing charges or passport photo costs necessary.
The best currency to carry from the west is the US dollar. It has continually risen against the Uganda shilling in recent months so you are guaranteed a favorable exchange. However go to a forex bureau, you will get better rates than if you change your money from a hotel or restaurant.
Where to eat:
Even people on safari do have to eat. You can eat at a luxury hotel where the food is very costly, or eat out at more affordable places with good food. You just need to know which places are good and that’s not hard you can ask around, or consult you tour operator. They can be very helpful.
All in all, for you to enjoy a perfect gorilla safari, you have to have proper timing for your holiday.