How do I book a gorilla permit?
How do I book a gorilla permit? Mountain gorillas are only found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. Acquiring a gorilla permit to see the mountain gorillas in Africa is one of the most important things to consider when planning to go on a gorilla trekking safari. You need to book your gorilla permit as soon as you make the decision to travel for a gorilla trekking tour. You can only confirm travel dates then securing a gorilla permit. All tourists must have Gorilla permits while entering the park and are advised to obtain this permit at least 5 months before traveling. As soon as you confirm your trip, you need to pay the gorilla permit fee in order for the company to have them secured. Booking gorilla permits particularly during the peak season can be very competitive. You can acquire gorilla permits on your own but our experience shows that travellers find the process cumbersome. Achieve Global Safaris will help you to organize your gorilla permit and also transport, accommodation. Gorilla permits cost differently for each of the three mountain gorilla trekking countries.
Gorilla Permits in Uganda – Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga national park. There are about 12 gorilla families in Bwindi forest national park and 1 gorilla family in Mgahinga national park. The cost of trekking gorillas is USD 700 per day in Uganda and this fee has put Uganda to a more advantage to trek gorillas compared to Rwanda and Congo.
Gorilla permits in Uganda are obtained from The Uganda Wildlife Authority at their Kampala headquarters. The Uganda Wildlife Authority issues about 152 gorilla permits per day for both gorilla families in Bwindi and Mgahinga. Should you decide to book the permit by yourself, then you need to contact wildlife Authority by email requesting a reservation with information about your dates of travel. The discounted gorilla permits do not exist anymore so the permit is 700$ throughout the year. It can be difficult to predict if you can get a gorilla permit in Mgahinga National Park or Bwindi impenetrable national park so you need to book your permits in advise.
Also, Uganda is the only country offering gorilla habituation experience. This is where primate lovers are given more time with the gorillas under the guidance of experienced researchers and trackers. This experience in Uganda costs US$1500 and is suitable for those who have already gone for normally gorilla trekking and now wish to have an in-depth understanding of Mountain gorillas. By the time you leave the gorilla group, you would have spent four hours with them and learnt a great deal. During standard gorilla trekking, you only have one hour with the primates.
Gorilla Permits in Rwanda – Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is done at the volcanoes national park. There are 10 gorilla families and a permit costs USD 1,500 per person. Gorilla permits in Rwanda are obtained from the Rwanda Development Board offices in Kigali.
Gorilla permits in the Democratic Republic of Congo – Congo has about 8 in number and gorilla tracking permit costs USD 400 per day. Booking gorilla permits in Congo is only done by booking directly with the Virunga national park or if you are to book using your tour operator, you will book a Congo gorilla safari package that includes a gorilla permit and other items on the package. We can also help you book permits to track western lowland gorillas at Kahuzi-Biega national park. Lowland gorilla permits can be secured last minute but we recommend that you plan your booking in advance just to be sure. Unfortunately, the Authorities in Congo have struggles to sell gorilla permits. This is mainly attributed to the instability in the country. This is quiet sad because Congo has so much to offer in terms of biodiversity and pristine African wilderness.
Looking at the cost of a gorilla permit, one might be tempted to wonder if it’s all worth it any way. Mountain gorillas are an endangered species with about 900 remaining in the whole world in only Uganda, Congo, and Rwanda. The experience of watching mountain gorillas is unique and the fees paid is usually shared by the communities and to fund mountain gorilla conservation efforts in the region. The local communities and former poachers gain economically from the employment opportunities.
Requirements for booking a gorilla permit.
You must be 15 Years and above to be allowed to trek mountain gorillas in all the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.
Your trekking Dates depend on availability. You can only book a gorilla permit depending on availability of the permits on the desired dates of travel. Thus, you are advised to purchase your gorilla permits 5 months in advance before travel.
Passport number details that should be sent to your travel operator. Gorilla permits are not transferable and you will be asked for identification at the park to check if your information details match that on the permit.
Information about obtaining a gorilla Permits in Africa
A gorilla permits is the one document that gives you the right to watch the gorillas and access the games parks. Tour operators will ask you to share your passport details or copy at the time of booking your trip so that they can know your age and language abilities. The age is important because it determines if you qualify for gorilla trekking or could need a porter while at the park. The passport copy will also help the tour company figure out if you need a Guide who speaks multiple languages.
What is included in the price of a gorilla permit? The price of a gorilla permit includes park entrance fees and the services of the Ranges and Guide who will be taking you to track the animals. The rangers protect you from any wild animals by scaring them away with gunshots (rarely). The price of a gorilla permits excludes accommodation, transport, porters and tips.
It is important to book your gorilla permits and safari months in advance before traveling. This is particularly important during the peal seasons. If you get a gorilla permit in June or August without prior booking, then you should count yourself lucky.
Never accept to pay for gorilla permits at a price different from that given by UWA. If it is peak season, it is better to wait or book for another month. There is no need to rush, you will eventually see the gorillas if you really want to.
Never send money to a personal account when booking your gorilla permit or tour. All genuine Tour companies have a bank account. This will help you follow up in case you ever need to. All Tour operators must give you an option of paying by credit card. Most companies in East Africa use the Pesapal online system.
Gorilla permits are expensive for several reasons. Gorilla have the nearest resemblance to man. They may not be as intelligent as chimpanzees but their behaviour and family arrangement is strikingly similar to that of humans. You could say Gorillas are wiser than chimpanzees. They are more gentle, peaceful and considerate of all family members. Gorillas will protect their family and especially the young to death. There are only about 1,000 mountain gorillas still on earth. The fact that they are endangered has contributed to the high price for permits. The governments need funds to protect the primates and preserve their natural habitat. 80% of the money generated from gorilla permits is used for gorilla conservation purposes. By paying for the permits, you are also contributing to the protection of a creature that reminds us of ourselves and past.
Gorilla trekking is carried out throughout the year. However, the low season for tourism is during the months of March to April and the beginning of May or November. Those are the months were acquiring gorilla permits are considered relatively easy. You cannot count on getting a gorilla permit in the other months (peak season) unless you book your safari in advance. You can read our article about how to choose an easier gorilla group to trek.
Gorilla Permit cancellation policy in Uganda
Should you cancel your gorilla Uganda tour after booking a gorilla permit? The Uganda Wildlife Authority DOES NOT refund any amount if you cancel the experience. Your tour operator can only sale the gorilla permits to another buyer for you to get back your money however, this is not a guaranteed possibility. But if you still have a chance to reschedule, then you will be allowed to book for another date. The above cancellation policy applies to the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Tour operators have their own cancellation policies and you might want to study them before confirmation of the trip.