But it might be worth it in the long term.
Getting up close and personal with some of nature's greatest apes is about to get more expensive.
Rwanda doubled the price of permits for gorilla encounters from $750 to $1,500, though the price hike will not apply to existing permit holders, according to a release from the Rwanda Development Board. The treks often involve a long hike followed by an up-close experience with gorillas.
The move is an effort to better finance conservation of the gorilla habitats as well as to support local communities, according to the release.
“We have raised the price of permits in order to ensure sustainability of conservation initiatives and enhance visitors’ experience,” said Clare Akamanzi, chief executive of the Rwanda Development Board. “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.”
Some in Rwanda fear that the price hike will push tourists to opt for similar experiences in neighboring Uganda. Tourism has remained tenuous following the genocide that rocked the country in 1994. But with growing stability and a recent crop of luxury hotels and experiences, the east African country has been pacing toward a rebound.
“No doubt hundreds of primate operators are hastily re-arranging their itineraries to switch countries,” Paul Goldstein, a wildlife guide and photographer, told the Independent.
Uganda is not without its challenges to gorilla conservation and tourism, however. Oil was discovered underneath several of the gorilla habitats in Uganda, and government officials have begun exploring the possibility of drilling.