How and Where To Buy Gorilla Permits in Congo
Suppose you’re planning a gorilla safari in DR Congo. In that case, you must buy a gorilla permit for Kahuzi or Virunga National Park that will permit you to join an early morning hike with rangers. Here, you’ll find all the information about when, how, and where to buy gorilla permits in Congo.
Gorilla trekking in DR Congo is exceptional because it’s the only country with both mountain gorillas and lowland gorillas. However, the safety issues in the country mean that tourism is not as developed as in Uganda and Rwanda. Nevertheless, the gorilla safari experience is the same. Buying a gorilla permit in Congo is as hugely important to protect these endangered primates as it is in the other gorilla destinations.
Although Rwanda and Uganda are the most renowned gorilla trekking destinations, there are other reasons why DRC is a particularly special place to trek gorillas.
First of all, this is the only country where you see both lowland and mountain gorillas on a single trip. For real primate nuts, you can add on a chimpanzee safari, too.
Secondly, given how Congo has few tourists, the income from gorilla permits is absolutely essential to contributing to the conservation of the gorillas and their habitats. The Mountain gorilla population has grown to over 1000 individuals, thanks largely to Uganda and Rwanda’s admirable tourism and conservation programs. However, the population of eastern lowland gorillas is still dwindling. Buying the gorilla permit in Congo can provide park funding and jobs for surrounding communities.
Finally, DR Congo has the cheapest gorilla permits, costing USD 450, compared to USD 800 in Uganda and USD 1,500 in Rwanda. You’re also most likely to buy last-minute gorilla permits in high season, which just doesn’t happen in Rwanda and Uganda.
Where do visitors track gorillas in Congo?
Gorilla trekking in DR Congo occurs in Virunga National Park, located on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains and the nearby Kahuzi-Biega National Park.
There are eight habituated groups in Virunga National Park. Each group can have between 7 – 26 members, a silverback leader with distinct personalities and characteristics which your trekking guide shares during the trek.
Tours depart in the early morning from a rangers’ base called Bukima, located a short drive from Goma town. The duration of your gorilla trek depends on the location of the gorillas; you could be hiking for less than an hour or as many as five. Fortunately, you’ll not be doing this on your own but with up to seven other tourists and armed rangers who expertly locate the gorillas’ whereabouts.
Visitors can track Eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with six habituated gorilla groups. They can access Kahuzi via Bukavu, about 40 km from Rwanda.
From Goma, you can reach Kahuzi via Lake Kivu by boat or by driving around the lakeshore. All activities and Congo gorilla permit verification at Kahuzi begging at Tshvanga Visitor Centre.
How much is a gorilla permit in Congo?
A gorilla permit in Congo costs USD 450 per person per trek. The permit is discounted at $250 for Congolese nationals and $300 for SADC nationals.
Occasionally, permits are discounted for all visitors for a defined period; please check with our consultants for the latest development.
What is included in the permit?
The gorilla permit in Congo fees are inclusive of park entry fees. Also included in the permit is armed security by park rangers and precisely one hour watching the gorillas. You’ll be offered a walking stick at the visitors’ centre, which you have to return after the trek.
However, the permit does not include the transportation from the registration and orientation site to the hiking trailhead, which could be up to 25 miles away.
At the visitor center, you can hire a porter to help carry your day pack or assist you trekking when necessary at an additional cost of $15. It also gives needed income to local communities.
Where to buy a gorilla permit in Congo?
You can buy a gorilla permit in Congo from either the park office directly or through a licensed tour operator like Encounter Africa by email or call.
How to buy a gorilla permit in Congo?
To book a gorilla permit through park management, send an inquiry email to Virunga’s tourism office in Goma at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll receive availability options with instructions on how to make payment. Your permit will only be reserved after an initial payment with a scanned copy of your passport. It can take a week or more to get the permit processed.
Alternatively, you can have a local tour operator manage the gorilla permit logistics and confirm the booking when ready. They’ll need your travel details, including tracking date, your names, passport details, and a deposit on the permit.
Send our consultants an email, and we’ll make the whole process of acquiring a gorilla permit in congo seamless.
Last-minute congo gorilla permits
Because DR Congo has few visitors, last-minute gorilla permits for Virunga National Park or Kahuzi are usually guaranteed, which is not the case in Rwanda or Uganda.
We emphasize the importance of making a booking at the earliest opportunity, because of the small group nature of our tours. For bookings received within 30 days of departure, the Contract between the Organization and the Client comes into existence once full payment has been made and received by Virunga National Park.
Congo Permit Cancellation & Terms
Changes are subject to availability. Please note an additional administration fee may be charged when you apply to change the trekking date on the gorilla permit.
Should you wish to cancel, the following charges will apply;
- 31 days or more – 2.9% (credit card transaction fee)
- 30-20 days before departure – 30%
- 19-14 days before departure – 60%
- 13-8 days before departure – 90%
- Less than seven days – 100%
When is the best time for gorilla trekking in Congo?
Gorilla trekking in Congo is available all year round, with definite sightings for most tourists. However, the rain could ruin your chances of a great experience. So, buy your gorilla permit for a date with good weather for hiking.
However, permit availability could highly determine when you’ll hike the Virungas in search of the elusive gorillas. Permits usually sell out in peak travel seasons.
The best time for gorilla trekking in DR Congo is, therefore, during dry seasons of mid-December – early February, and June-September, when it’s more comfortable for trekking under the tropical rainforest. Don’t be entirely discouraged by the November and March-May rains because you may have the rainforests and mountains to yourself, and what can beat an uninterrupted experience in the wilderness than that?
What to pack for Congo gorilla trekking
Here’s a list of essential things you should have for the gorilla trek in DR Congo.
- Trousers and a sleeve shirt or t-shirt
- Hiking boots to navigate the slippery steep jungle
- Long socks to tuck in your pants and avoid insects creeping up your thighs
- Raincoat or poncho for in case it rains; it’s a rainforest after all
- Pack a reusable bottle for drinking water to keep you hydrated
- Some snacks and a lunch-pack container
- Camera or phone to take photos
Booking a gorilla trekking safari in Congo.
Avoid the time-demanding logistics of booking a gorilla permit in Congo and book with a trusted and licensed tour operator. Encounter Africa Safaris operates gorilla trekking tours in Congo, managing all the reservations and local transfers.
With you, we’ll customize your trip in Congo, give you all the necessary information for staying safe and take care of all the ground handling. Please email us at email@example.com for a free quote.