How to improve Gorilla Trekking Experience In Uganda
With most travelers opting to go gorilla safaris in Uganda, the pearl of Africa should be on the world travel map as a leading gorilla tourism destination. We recognize and appreciate some improvements that have been done but still recommend that more improvements should be done in Uganda’s tourism sector especially gorilla trekking. In the past decades, Rwanda was a first stop for gorilla trekking due to a short distance from Kigali international airport to volcanoes national park, extensive marketing by Rwanda development board and the progress Rwanda has achieved after the genocide. The double increment of a gorilla permits in Rwanda last year from 750usd to 1500usd made Uganda a resort for most gorilla trekkers. Fortunately the country shelters the highest number of mountain gorillas, roughly half of the world’s gorillas, which is an added advantage. The cost of gorilla trekking in Uganda is also cheap costing 600usd, which favors low-income earners. Also, the availability of two gorilla tour destinations (Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park) give travelers a choice on where to see gorillas unlike Rwanda and Congo which have single gorilla national parks. With all these advantages, Uganda has over Rwanda and Congo; the country should surely be much better. The question in mind now is what should be done to improve gorilla trekking experience
It’s unfortunate that the low cost gorilla permits, and the adventurous gorilla trekking experiences Uganda offers have not been extensively marketed in the international travel market. For this case, Uganda Wildlife authority, Uganda tourism board and the ministry of tourism, wildlife and Antiquities should invest much in marketing Uganda to the outside world. Also, Its disastrous that even now, some foreigners think of Uganda a s a country of wars, dictatorship, diseases and other negative things which is not the case. Our neighbor Rwanda has picked the pieces, aggressively marketed her tourism products, which has turned into into a leading tourism destination despite its limited tourism products compared to Uganda. This means that if there was extensive marketing, Uganda would be number one tourism destination on the world travel map for gorilla tours and other wildlife experiences. Of recent, Rwanda signed a 3 years partnership with Arsenal; football club which has a large number of supporters. This indicate a big task, Uganda must fulfill its to out compete the competitors, earn increased revenue and change the negative image most people still about the pearl of Africa.
Pre trekking activities and services
In most comparisons past traveler have given between Uganda and Rwanda, travelers are always impressed by a traditional dance at kinigi head quarters just before their gorilla trekking. On the day of trekking, Uganda wildlife authority should therefore prepare some pre trekking activities as a way for welcoming travelers to the pearl of Africa. Like Rwanda, Uganda should train local dancers to entertain travelers at their briefing pint before the start of hiking. A cultural dance is an indirect way of showing and telling travelers that Uganda is much more than gorillas, which they have not experienced before.
Rehabilitate roads to gorilla parks
Uncomfortable and impassable roads are one of the reasons for fewer visits to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park, which shelter famous mountain gorillas. The government together with the Uganda national roads authority (UNRA) should therefore rehabilitate and reconstruct all broken roads connecting to these parks. The roads become so muddy, slippery especially in heavy rains, which leave mots of clients stuck in the middle of the jungle. Bad roads prolong driving hours, which at the end tarnishing the whole experience. If roads to gorilla parks were much better, gorilla tours in Bwindi and Mgahinga would be a walk a way.
What will it benefit?
There are lots of benefits Uganda will earn if it improves its gorilla trekking experience. Firstly, extensive marketing will expose Uganda and all its offers to the outside world hence changing the negative beliefs and attitudes people have about Uganda. This will encourage more people t come and test the gem Uganda offers that make it a distinct travel destination. An increased number of travelers generate increased government revenue hence increases in the country’s gross domestic product.
Also, improving Uganda’s gorilla trekking experience will increase market for the local people’s agricultural products and hand made crafts. On their way to Bwindi/ Mgahinga, travelers pass through local communities which exposé them to local peoples ready products for sale. This is a source of income for locals, which help o improve their standards of living and create positive local support for gorilla tourism in the area.
Gorilla families in Uganda/ Bwindi impenetrable forest national park
Its good to know which gorilla families are available for trekking in Uganda. Well, there are 13 gorilla groups 12 in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and 1 family named Nyakagezi in Mgahinga gorilla national park. Gorilla groups in Bwindi are scattered in four sectors of Buhoma in the north, Ruhija in the east and Rushaga plus Nkuringo in the southern part of the national park. The available gorilla families are Mubare, Habinyanyanja, Rushegura, kyaguliro, Oruzogo, Bitukura, Nshongi, Mishaya, kahungye, Bweza, Busingye, and Nkuringo. Also, two gorilla groups namely Bushaho and Bikyingi are undergoing habituation process in Rushaga sector of Bwindi, which reward travelers with an exceptional experience not found else where in the whole world. The high number of gorilla families assures traveler’s availability of gorilla permits even for those who b do last hour bookings.
What should be done
Unlike in Rwanda, foreign residents in Uganda are given a discount to pay 500usd instead of 600usd while east African residents Ugandans inclusive pay 250,000shs, which is an added advantage. Gorilla trekkers to Bwindi are reminded to choose a gorilla family near their accommodation facilities since traveling from one sector to another can be disturbing especially in the morning hours as they rush for a pre trekking briefing.
In conclusion, Uganda only needs to improve a few things in its gorilla trekking experience. Otherwise, the pearl of Africa is the best gorilla trekking destination sheltering the highest population of gorillas in the whole world.