A Gorilla tracking permit is a license issued to the traveller allowing them to be guided in the gorilla jungle for the ultimate wildlife encounter to find a habituated gorilla family and spend close to 60 minutes in their presence. This activity is done in three neighboring countries of– Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo.
Gorilla permits are issued by government conservation authority bodies in the respective countries. In Uganda, you can only book gorilla permits with UGANDA WILDLIFE AUTHORITY in Uganda and in Rwanda, this can be done with RWANDA DEVELOPMENT BOARD that subsquently issues the gorilla permits. Booking gorilla permits with the government authority may turn out to be cumbersome for you with no or little followup and that’s when we recommend that you seek help of a Destination Management Company to simplify the process for you.
How much do Gorilla Tracking permits cost in Uganda or Rwanda?
A Gorilla permit in Uganda for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park costs USD $600 per person (until June 1st 2020). A Rwanda gorilla permit for Volcanoes National Park cost USD $1500. This was increased a few years back from $750 in case you’re wondering.
Uganda Wildlife Authority has not offered discounted rates on Gorilla trekking permits and chimpanzee tracking permits. The prices will be maintained at $600 and $150 respectively until the 31st june 2020 when the prices will change to US $700 and US $200 respectively. UWA has always been reviewing its prices and tariffs every year while we have been notified that from 1st July. 2020 the Gorilla permit will go for 700 dollars and 200 for chimpanzees respectively until further notice.
You can book gorilla permits in Uganda considering the following tourist categories for 2019 -30th may 2020:
Foreign Non-residents = US $600
Foreign Residents to US $500
Ugandans/East Africans – UGX 250000
You can book gorilla permits in Uganda considering the following tourist categories for1stJune 2020:
Foreign Non-residents = US $700
Foreign Residents to US $600
Ugandans/East Africans – UGX 250000/=
The number of people allowed to go gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda is restricted to 8 persons per each family of habituated gorillas on each particular day. This is done to ensure least behavioral disturbance to the mountain gorillas as well as reduce the risk of them catching contagious human illnesses considering them being human closest relatives.
A maximum of 8 people are allowed to trek each gorilla group per day. That restriction makes it competitive to book gorilla permits especially during peak seasons. It is therefore necessary to book permits as early as possible. We strongly advise you book at least 4-5 months in advance to ensure that you can track on the requested or preferred date, especially if you plan to trek during the peak season (school holidays) or if you are in a large group.
So far, we have eight Gorilla tracking families for viewing. There are four groups in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and these are;
Mubare Gorilla Family. …
Habinyanja Gorilla Family. …
Rushegura Gorilla Family. …
Katwe gorilla family. …
Nkuringo Gorilla Family. …
Bushaho gorilla family. …
Bitukura Gorilla Family. …
Mishaya Gorilla Family.
Nkuringo Gorilla Family
Kintu Gorilla Family
And one (Nyakagezi) in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. New Gorilla Families are yet to be officially opened for tracking safaris. This same year, We have had one Gorilla Tracking Family migrate from Rwanda side to Uganda while revenue is being shared by the two countries.
Booking procedures for gorilla permits
You require a gorilla permit to trek Uganda gorillas found in two National Parks of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park all found in south western Uganda. Gorilla permits can be obtained from Uganda Wildlife Authority Head Offices in Kampala just after Uganda Museum on Kiira Road. Every day, UWA sells gorilla permits for all gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga.
Offices are always open from 9:00am to 5:00pm in the evening, though this process may be tiresome or may not be fruit full to the traveller because the first priority is given to the local travel agents in Uganda.
Talk to your travel agent or get one from the AUTO directory with all the registered travel agents in Uganda.
High gorilla trekking seasons in Uganda are June, July, August, September and early November and then December, January and February. Gorilla permits tend to be very scarce and if you intend to trek gorillas during this month, you need to book them way back in advance. Lets say Recommended 4-6 months in advance.
Long Term Advance Booking Allocations
Uganda Wildlife Authority allows advanced booking of up to two years as long as a deposit of 30% is made and the balance shall be paid 90 days to the tracking date. Later top up of 70% is not permitted but may be considered 7 days, and will attract a Surcharge of 20% beyond which deposit is forfeited without refund. 80% of all the gorilla permits in each month can be booked for two years in advance by the Association of Uganda Tour Operations (AUTO) members only.
Foreign tour operators will book through local tour operators. Each tour operator (AUTO) shall book up to only 20 permits for that particular month on the day the booking opens, which is the first working day (Monday to Friday) of the month.
Gorilla Permit Limits.
Gorilla Permits not sold on the day the booking opens will be open for sale the following day with no limits on the number each tour operator would buy.
UWA shall refund 50% tracking fee, if the visitor fails to track due to illness, this will be at recommendation of the Warden in Charge and this clause only applies to visitors who have already tracked BINP or MGNP.
Visitors who fail to track the gorillas (MGNP) as a result of their movement to the neighboring country shall receive a full refund on their permits. However, those who would have tracked the whole day and failed to view the gorillas for one reason or another will be refunded 75% of the tracking fee. All refunds shall be affected through the Reservation Office at UWA Headquarters in Kampala.
UWA will retain the following percentages upon cancellations;
0 – 8 days to tracking date – no refund
9 – 45 days to tracking date – 75% (25% refund to client)
46-90 days to tracking date – 50%
91 days and above to tracking date – 25% (75% refund to client)
Any refund to be made on the 30% deposit shall be at the value of the permit.
Permits must be sold at face value, whoever sells at higher value will be penalized.
Primary sale of permits by individuals or tour companies anywhere is illegal. All permits MUST be sold by Uganda Wildlife Authority only.
Payment for gorilla permits must be made directly to Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Reschedules of Permit Reservations
Reschedules of Permit reservations are not permitted, except if it is more than 91 days to tracking date and is within (7) seven days of rescheduled date. This will attract a reschedule fee of 20%. Any other charges of the date will be considered as a cancellation and a re-booking. A cancellation policy will therefore apply and re-booking a new date at the full cost of a permit.
Payment Terms of the gorilla permits:
The acceptable payment methods are:
Cash (Uganda Shillings, US dollars, GB Pounds, Euros),
The tracking time is limited from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All visitors are expected back at the camp ground by 7:00 p.m.
Enjoy the mighty gorillas of Uganda with all the information at hand.