German adventure Walter Baumgartel was one of the first people to recognize that tourism could provide a reason for locals to support preservation of the forests, which would thus ensure the survival of mountain gorillas. He bought the Travelers Rest Hotel in Kisoro, Uganda, in 1955 and people soon came to try to track the great apes. By the late 1960’s gorilla tracking had become quite popular.
Gorilla tourism today stands at a crossroads ranking among the top adventure activities in Africa. Many travelers around the world who take Uganda safaris include gorilla trekking as the main tourism activity within their tour itinerary. All three countries where the remaining mountain gorillas live have a history of instability that makes it hard for international conservation organizations to operate with any certainty.
Several organizations promote sustainable agricultural and tourism practices and encourage the active participation of local communities in conservation, and this has played a large part in ensuring the gorillas’ survival during turbulent times. However, many of the residents of local communities around these protected areas remain bitter; they’re aware of the vast sums of money flowing in from visitors, and that very little of it reaches them.
However, the organizations that work towards gorilla tourism are trying to improve on gorilla tourism and the human wildlife conflicts have really reduced in the neighboring local communities that live at the edges of the forests in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park.
In Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, gorilla tourism was reintroduced in 1994 with some few pioneer companies taking tourists into the jungle. Gorilla trekking was first done from the Buhoma Sector in Northern Bwindi. Later three other sectors were opened for gorilla tourism and these are; Nkuringo, Rushaga and Ruhija. Nkuringo became the base for gorilla tracking in the south while Buhoma was the favorite in the north.