Bwindi National Park

Autumn 2017 update

August update
This from Naomi Jackson. Senior Operations Manager at Explore: “I just wanted to share this lovely comment from a customer regarding our Uganda trip.
Myself and a couple of others in the group chose to spend an afternoon learning to weave with the lovely women at the Ride 4 a Woman charity in Bwindi. I would highly recommend this. It was a very relaxing afternoon spent chatting to, and learning about the locals.”

July Update

Latest News:
There is some confusion amongst source market operators.  A gorilla permit to trek gorillas in Bwindi National Park or Mgahinga National Park costs USD600 per day per person in the high season and USD450per permit in the low season months of April, May and November. There has been no change. The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) announced on 6 May an immediate increase in the price of a gorilla permit in Rwanda from US $750 to US $1,500.This should increase Bwindi’s competitive advantage.

Uganda has confirmed that the current fees will remain in place for the next two years allowing Uganda to take full advantage of the doubled fees in neighbouring Rwanda, where the cost for a single permit, Rwandan citizens included, now stands at a whopping 1.500 US Dollars. This translates into a couple now paying 3.000 US Dollars for which money five people can have the same experience when doing this activity in ‘The Pearl of Africa‘. Sources close to UWA have confirmed a significant increase in advance sales for gorilla permits, which are now open up to mid-2019 already, giving rise to hope for the country’s tourism industry that visitor numbers will rise in the future as foreign tourists take advantage of Uganda’s price stability.more

Local economic development through ‘pro-poor’ gorilla tourism in Uganda

Training with the basket makers, bird guides, Batwa and village walks, poachers turned market gardeners and beekeepers/ honey producers has commenced. These producer groups all welcome visitors and we would appreciate feedback from tour leaders, travellers and tour operators over the next year while we work with local trainers to enhance their skills, the quality of the goods and services they offer and their earnings.  Training is continuing for the remainder of the year.

Travellers and holidaymakers can be assured of an enhanced experience and those inbound and source market operators which engage with these enhanced products will be providing a better experience and assisting local people to earn more from tourism. For details of each of the groups and the goods and experiences they offer please email Peter Nizette

This initiative is supported by the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative | More details of this IIED project here.

Coverage in  The East African Gateja revives the arts among Uganda’s Batwa

Some of the groups engaged in the initiative.

Habasa Evelyne and her husband Rubalema Denis formed Ride 4 A Woman in 2009. The program started by renting bicycles to tourists with the hope of generating money to start a job-training program for the women. As time went on, there became a need for bike maintenance so Evelyne and Denis started training local women to do the repairs. The program expanded beyond bicycle renting and mechanics when a group of Australian tourists met Evelyne and offered to help her start a sewing program. This led to the need of a community building for the programs to take place, which was completed in 2012 and is called the Bwindi Women’s Community Centre.

Today, Ride 4 A Woman strives to empower many local women by providing them with training in local crafts, textiles, bicycle repair and English instruction.

Sanaa Gateja is working with groups of basket weavers around the park to improve the design and quality of the baskets they produce in order to increase their earnings. The designs reflect the Bwindi landscapes/

Exporting baskets through Kwetu Africa. 


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The Batwa Development Programme which offers a Batwa Experience which is about preserving their culture and passing it to their children – they also offer a good tourism experience. The Batwa village tours offer a community engagement of suffient quality and depth that some operators and travellers will extend their length of stay to enable them to spend time there.

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The reformed poachers who have become market gardeners are selling to the lodges and provide an excellent opportunity for tourists to engage with local people and their agriculture.

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Building Houses for the Batwa 

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To learn more about the Batwa house building initiative 

Bird Guides 

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Bees and Agricultural Development

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Product Development

We have identified 18  producer groups to work with to improve the quality of locally produced goods and services for sale to tourists and lodges around the park and for export.

The Initiative

The Responsible Tourism Partnership is contributing its inclusive tourism expertise to a Darwin Initiative funded initiative to improve the livelihoods of those living adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Southwest Uganda. The initiative is led by the International Institute for Environment and Development.

Local economic development through ‘pro-poor’ gorilla tourism in Uganda (Apr 2016 to Mar 2019) is a 3-year project funded by the UK government’s Darwin Initiative. Through it, we will work with local people and established tour operators to develop and test new ‘pro-poor’ tourism products and services around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The new initiatives — such as guided tours, food experiences, cultural performances, and improved handicrafts — will aim to add value to the typical 2-night gorilla tracking package and increase local revenue from tourism, thereby contributing to poverty alleviation, improving local peoples’ attitudes to conservation and reducing threats to gorillas.

But those living very close to the forest suffer significant costs such as crop raiding by wild animals; the revenue from the park is not targeted at those who suffer most. Tourists pay US$600 per person to track gorillas. Communities living around the forest receive US$10 per gorilla permit sold, plus 20 per cent of the US$40 park entry fees in recognition of the importance of their support for conservation.

There are also few conservation or tourism-based jobs open to local people. Wider benefits from park tourism are also limited by low levels of skills development, resulting in low-quality handicrafts and poor presentation of community-based enterprises, which deter tourists.

The Responsible Tourism Partnership is leading the design of tourism services, scoping demand, assessing supply and matching supply and demand. Ugandan trainers are being used to build capacity to meet demand and we are working closely with Uganda inbound operators and source market operators in the UK, USA and Germany.

Project activities over the three years will include:

  • Consulting with tour operators and surveying tourists to clarify demand for local tourism products and services
  • Surveying households in tourist zones around the park to identify current benefits from tourism and attitudes towards and capacity to engage the project
  • Sharing results with tour operators, agreeing the most viable products and services and identifying quality criteria and sources of training
  • Working with existing guides, performers, handicraft makers and so on to deliver training
  • Adapting emerging ‘Gorilla Friendly‘ enterprise standards and testing them on new products and services
  • Working with tour operators to include the new products and services in existing packages, collecting feedback, refining, and rolling-out, and
  • Sharing lessons learned more widely in Uganda and internationally.

The Responsible Tourism Partnership is leading the design of tourism services, scoping demand, assessing supply and matching supply and demand. Ugandan trainers are being used to build capacity to meet demand and we are working closely with Uganda inbound operators and source market operators in the UK, USA and Germany.