Uganda wildlife authority offers complementary gorilla permits to come and see habituated mountain gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. This happens on a rare occasion the reason why many bloggers and travel writers have not paid attention to it. It is true that gorilla trekking is among the most sought after tourist activity in the whole world and only takes place in African countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic republic of Congp. For one to be able to visit any of the habituated mountain gorilla families in Uganda, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo, a gorilla permit is required and it comes at a cost. It is this same gorilla permit that allows one to spend one hour with these great apes in Uganda, Rwanda or DRC.
Uganda Wildlife Authority signed a memorandum of understanding with AUTO ( Association of Uganda tour operators) where certain gorilla permits are offered to AUTO secretariat on a quarterly basis. This therefore means that AUTO receives these gorilla permits three times in a year. These gorilla permits are free of charge and this arrangement between UWA and AUTO is to appreciate the efforts by AUTO members for selling Uganda internationally and domestically. Uganda tour operators under their umbrella association are the leading buyers of Uganda gorilla permits due to the efforts they put in to sell Uganda and because of this and also corporate responsibility of UWA, it decided to give back to AUTO in order to support them.
For one to benefit from complementary gorilla permits offered to AUTO by Uganda Wildlife Authority, you must be a member of the Association of Uganda Tour operators. In order to become a member, you are supposed to adhere to certain requirements as stipulated by the membership unit of the association. As a requirement to join the association, you are supposed to be proposed and seconded by any already existing member and once all the paper work is done, a team from the secretariat will come to inspect your office to establish if you have the minimum requirements to become a member and once this is approved, you will be offered a certificate as an associate or full member.
Being a member of Association of Uganda Tour Operators does not guarantee you these complementary gorilla permits. You must have fully paid up your membership fee at the time when these gorilla permits are released by Uganda gorilla permits. Membership fee is normally paid at the beginning of every year and one to benefit must be compliant to this requirement.
Every quarter, Uganda Wildlife Authority gives these gorilla permits to AUTO. Once AUTO receives these gorilla permits, the Executive director AUTO then writes to members of the association about these permits. Terms and conditions are very clear and normally these gorilla permits are given on fast come first serve basis. Those that send in their email as fast as possible are the most likely beneficiaries of these gorilla permits. To make it a fair game, these gorilla permits are shared equally to ensure that at least each Tour operator gets two or one gorilla permit. Any complaint that may result from this is normally handled by the secretariat.
Once these AUTO complementary permits are announced, AUTO members are supposed to write to the executive director informing her/him about their desire to benefit from these gorilla permits, the email should indicate the region in Bwindi where they want these permits to track as well as the date, month and year. Upon receiving this email, AUTO secretariat will sit and either offer or reject. In an event that your request is accepted, you will be required to make payment within 5 working days and go with your pay slip to claim your permits at the secretariat. Once a list is complied, it will be taken to UWA reservations and IT department to be fed in the system for future and proper management.
These permits issued to AUTO members are always sold to its members on a discounted price compared to the normal price at UWA. The money out of these gorilla permits is supposed to assist the association to run its day today business and management of its affairs.
These gorilla permits are supposed to be paid in full. Normal gorilla permits can be paid partially and then top up at a later stage. For these gorilla permit, the requirement is simple, pay in full and own them. The same permits can be transferred from one date to another. UWA allows tour operators to move gorilla permits from one date to another and this should be done once.
Apart from the above gorilla permits offered to AUTO from UWA. Uganda Wildlife Authority has some gorilla permits put aside for familiarization trips organized by UWA, UTB or Tour operators. These gorilla permits are given out to tour operators to allow them reduce on costs of organizing fam trips for their agents. There set procedures that are followed for one two benefit from these gorilla permits. One can either write to UTB about it, he/she should indicate the number of Agents on that trip, their companies and country of origin. AUTO will recommend as well as UTB before your request is forwarded to UWA for consideration. Once this is approved, then you will get these permits. UWA and UTB also organizes fam trips for local and regional tour operators where these permits can be used.
The above notwithstanding, one needs to buy his or her gorilla permit in order to trek habituated mountain gorillas in Uganda and or Rwanda. Gorilla trekking being one of the most sought after tourist activity, Encounter Africa safaris advises all our clients to book their gorilla permits in advance in order to avoid shortage. Encounter Africa safaris organizes and book gorilla permits to all her clients that book all inclusive gorilla and Uganda safaris with them.
Our record and experience speaks for itself. We have been around for quite some time and we mastered the two gorilla tracking destinations that we offer. The journey has takens through ups and down and we have always raised to the occasion. We have a group of young and motivated staff guided by mature and experience directors who run our day today activities of the office. We are passionate about what we do and above all, we are local Ugandans selling our experience to the rest of the world. For more information about Encounter Africa safaris please do contact us of visit our trip advisor or safari bookings page.