Gorilla trekking is increasing in popularity because it's such an incredible experience and that means that the number of companies offering this type of safari is increasing too. So how do you successfully choose between all of them?
One of the best ways to sort the wheat from the chaff is to get advice and recommendations from people who have used the company in the past.
They are in a great position to tell you how the operator performed because they have experienced the trip firsthand. A good experience for them will probably mean a good one for you too.
There is no guarantee of course, but it is better than taking pot luck with a company that you don't know anything about.
So with that in mind, and the access that I have (more about me) to travel journals, I've set up a top three gorilla trekking tour operators list.
Please remember that this is by no means a "be all and end all" categorization of the gorilla trekking safari companies available, but it does give you a good base from which to start.
The list is derived from these gorilla safari travel diaries and others that I have come across in the past.
I also keep my ear to the ground about what is going on in the travel industry and keep an eye on the various Africa travel forums available.
In no particular order then, the top three are...
"After our trek back down, we were exhausted and covered in mud but delighted with our encounter with the gorillas. At dinner we all reflected on how incredible the experience was..."
Jan Andersons blog (full gorilla trekking version)
"The Gorilla Permits are usually booked a year in advance. We were
VERY LUCKY that our Kili Operator, Good Earth, referred us to Ether in Kampala
who was able to secure us 2 permits for the following week..."
Janet & Ricks journal (full version)
"My husband and I just returned from Uganda where we went gorilla trekking at Bwindi with Travelust. It was a wonderful trip..."
Janes forum post
The short answer is that it depends on your requirements. Do you want to go the budget travel route or do things on a more luxurious scale? Do you only want to see the great apes or enjoy other attractions too?
The length of time you want to go also makes a difference as does the number of people in the party. There is no "one size fits all" cost because of all the variables involved.
The only thing that is not flexible is the price of the permit itself: US$500 each (May 2011).
To get a really definitive answer, make a gorilla trekking safari rates and availability enquiry...