Uganda Gorilla Permits
Uganda is one of the top destinations for gorilla tracking in Africa. Currently it is most affordable destination for tourists interested in gorilla tracking. The mountain gorillas live in two forest homes- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Currently the gorilla permit cost USD600 and the Uganda Wildlife Authority announced that there no plan of increasing the price until 2019.
In order to go gorilla tracking, one must possess a valid gorilla permit. These passes are issued by an organization responsible for managing gorilla tourism and there is a distinct organization in every country that issue the gorilla permits;
Cost of gorilla permits
Gorilla permits in Uganda cost $600 for foreign non residents, $500 for foreign residents and Shs 250,000 for East African Residents. What makes gorilla trekking easier and more interesting in Uganda is that permits are discounted during the low seasons (April, May and November) with $450 charged for foreign non residents, $400 for foreign residents and Shs 150,000 for East African Residents. Tourists who cannot afford prices for the normal permits can take the opportunity to track the mountain gorillas during the low seasons and achieve their dreams.
The Democratic Republic of Congo offers the lowest prices for gorilla permits of all the three countries where gorilla trekking is conducted. Permits for Virunga cost $400 for the International tourists and $150 for Congolese Citizens. Just like Uganda, the DRC also offers discounted permits during low seasons (March to May) at $200 per person.
Rwanda on the other hand offers the highest price for gorilla permits at $1500 for all categories of tourists (with effect from 6th May 2017). On top of Prices for gorilla permits being high, discounted permits are not offered in Rwanda. However special packages are offered whereby Tourists who visit Akagera and Nyungwe National Parks for a minimum of 3 days prior to gorilla trekking are eligible for a 30% discount. Not only that, Business tourists who stay before or after conference dates to see mountain gorillas are entitled to a 15% discount. Rwandan Development Board (RDB) also introduced an exclusive package where a tourist who desires to book for an entire gorilla family pays only $15,000 and the package includes personalized services for example tour guides. There is a unique “behind the scenes” package where tourists pay $30,000 for a minimum of 3 persons for 3 successive days.
Cost of Gorilla permits in Uganda
The fact that Gorilla permits prices will not change from $600 for all months of the year except in April, May and November when they cost $450 until 2019 and travelers are free to make gorilla permit bookings and gorilla safari tour booking for up to a period of 2 years. This will enable many travelers to enjoy gorilla tourism just like before and making gorilla tourism a key priority in Uganda travel trends. Gorilla tracking is a dream adventure for many tourists to Africa and many have skipped it because of gorilla permit prices that Uganda has solved from 2017, 2018 and 2019.Uganda offers the finest gorilla trekking experience to all visitors either in Mgahinga National Park or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park hence being a favorite gorilla tracking country for thousands across the globe. Seeing gorillas in Uganda on a single trek is a must, and no disappointments have ever been registered for the years gorilla trekking was embraced.
How to Book Gorilla permits in Uganda
Uganda gorilla permits can be booked through tour agents the best procedure either when booking a private Uganda gorilla safari tour or only gorilla permits. There are no fees charged when you book your gorilla trek with a tour agent apart from the total cost of the tour that includes, transport, accommodation, gorillas permit and all tour activities in the itinerary. However, those booking only gorilla permits, tour agents charge $30 as facilitation fee per permit and make sure you forward your passport biodata page details since they are needed in the process of Gorilla permit verification. Tour agents speed up everything and your gorilla permits are always confirmed faster.
Alternatively you can book directly with Uganda Wildlife Authority Reservation office in Kampala by making an inquiry through mail detailed with the particular dates of your interest. Once they respond, express your interest of booking the permits and even the possible ways of how you will make the payments. Their response will definitely indicate their payment methods and finalize the gorilla permit purchase. Remember that you need to consider a full day of travel from Kampala to either Bwindi forest National Park or Mgahinga National Park, another for tracking gorillas and the other for returning back to Kampala. Only book your gorilla safari accommodation after reserving your gorilla permit and first consider the sector of your trek out of the four park sectors of Bwindi –Buhoma, Rushaga, Nkuringo, and Ruhija.
How to acquire gorilla permits
Tourists have to book for gorilla permits at least 6 months prior to tracking or travelling. Gorilla permits for Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks can be booked both directly and indirectly. Permits can directly be acquired from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) head office at Plot 7 Kira Road in Kamwokya, Kampala Uganda or call +256 414 355 409/410 for reservations and bookings, to inquire about availability of permits for the dates you wish to track the gorillas or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or access their website on www.wildlife.org/contact-us-2/uwa-addresses for more information and also call the Park headquarters on +256 486 24121 for Bwindi and +256 414 680 793/+256 392 881 348 for Mgahinga National Park. You can acquire a permit by contacting Maranatha Tour and Travel, where the entire gorilla trekking safari will be booked on your behalf.
For Rwanda, Permits can be booked from Rwanda Tourism (ORTPN) Reservation Office in Kigali or in Ruhengeri or call on +252 57 65 14. You can alternatively send an email to email@example.com or access their website on www.rwandatourism.com to confirm for availability of gorilla permits then eventually book for them. Thereafter banking procedures will be sent to you so that you can pay for the permit. You have to include bank charges when transacting to prevent sending less money. A local tour operator can also organizes gorilla trekking safaris for Rwanda; you can contact the company for a smooth and memorable experience.
Since there are few tour operators in DRC, it is advisable to book through Ugandan or Rwandan tour operators. Some of the Rwandan Tour operators you can use include several tour operators listed on this website.
What you need to know about the gorilla permits is that tourists are allowed to spend only one hour with the gorilla group, but the process of tracking takes between 30 minutes and 6 hours before they are sighted.
Bear in mind that having a gorilla permit only guarantees your participation in gorilla trekking but doesn’t guarantee that you will see these Giant Apes because they are wild animals that are not positioned in one place but instead keep moving, hence it’s a matter of luck to see them. However, there is a 95% possibility for tourists to sight them.
Also, a maximum of 8 permits for 8 persons are sold for a particular gorilla group. This limitation is done to reduce on risks of spreading human diseases like flue, cough or diarrhea to the Mountain gorillas and vice versa.
For Uganda especially Bwindi National Park, it is important to know what sector you are tracking in (Buhoma in the North, Rushaga and Nkuringo in the South or Ruhija sector in the Eastern side of Bwindi), so that you also book for the lodging/accommodation facilities from that particular sector. The gorilla groups are distributed throughout the sectors with Habinyanja, Mubare and Rushegura in Buhoma sector, Bitukura and Oruzogo in Ruhija sector, Rushaga has the highest number of gorilla groups that include Nshongi, Mishaya, Bweza, Kahungye and Busingye groups, and Nkuringo group in Nkuringo sector.
When booking for gorilla permits, tourists should be in position to abide to the guidelines/rules and regulation that govern gorilla trekking. These guidelines include avoiding noise when tracking or when with the mountain gorillas, maintaining a distance of 7 meters away when with these Giant apes, do not eat or drink in the presence of these creatures and do not visit them when you are sick with cough or flue to avoid transmitting those diseases to them.
In conclusion, gorilla trekking has continuously become a unique opportunity for tourists who visit Uganda, Rwanda and DRC yet the gorilla permits are on high demand. In order to achieve their dreams, tourists are advised to book for permits at least 6 months in advance to avoid disappointment.