Reasons you should book your gorilla permit in Advance
Find reasons why you should book your gorilla permit in Advance. Gorilla trekking is an activity that is carried out in the rainforests of the Virunga region (Bwindi, Mgahinga, Volcanoes, and Virunga National Park) with the hope of spending an hour with the endangered Mountain gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the main park where gorilla trekking is carried, and this is because the park has half the world’s remaining gorillas with 19 habituated gorilla families that are open to the public. It is also where the gorilla habituation experience is carried out for now.
Most Popular Safaris
The second most visited National Park for gorilla trekking is the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, with 10 habituated gorilla families open for trekking. Mgahinga is also a good trekking destination with one gorilla family, and you can join a Queen Elizabeth National Park safari with Mgahinga. Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is available for gorilla trekking. Still, at the moment, there is unrest in the country, and it is best if you avoid Congo at the moment.
Mountain gorillas live in groups and are trekked in three African countries: Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The gorillas are endangered species that have a similar DNA to humans. A gorilla permit covers the trek, entrance to the park, and an hour with the gorillas, armed rangers, and guides. Other costs, including meals, transport, and accommodation, are paid separately, and you will need to discuss with your tour operator about the extra costs.
What’s a gorilla permit?
A gorilla permit is a document issued by the respective governments (Rwanda Development Board in Rwanda and Uganda Wildlife Authority in Uganda). It is the only document that will allow a traveler who is 12 years and above in Uganda and 15 years in Rwanda to get access to the Mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga and Volcanoes National Park.
A maximum of 8 people are allowed to trek the gorillas for an hour with normal trekking and 4 people during the habituation experience. This means that there will be a limited number of gorilla permits that are printed per day in both Rwanda and Uganda. Rwanda has 12 habituated gorilla families, and about 96 gorilla permits are issued per day in the Volcanoes National Park.
There are so many reasons why you need a gorilla trek permit in Advance, and these include the following:
For proper preparation: When you book your permit early, it helps with proper and early preparation for the gorilla trek safari. Early booking of the gorilla permit ensures that all the services needed for trekking are booked in Advance, including accommodation, transport, food, and other relevant activities you might want to engage in after trekking. It also gives you ample time to prepare physically and mentally for the trek. Pack the right things like garden gloves, cameras, long-sleeved shirts and pants, insect repellent, hiking boots, rain jackets, binoculars, and extra batteries.
High demand for gorillas: Mountain gorillas are one of the most sought-after endangered species in the world, and the fact that they can only be found in three countries and can only be trekked in their natural habitat makes them more unique and in high demand by tourists. The cost of a gorilla permit is high, and this is because 75% of the money received is used to protect the gorillas, and this has seen the number of primates. Rwanda has a gorilla permit at $1500, $700 in Uganda, and $400 in Congo per person per night.
Accommodation: Accommodation is an important aspect of gorilla trekking, and it is one of the first things booked after getting a gorilla permit. The accommodation is categorized into three categories: basic, mid-range, and luxurious.
The permit is to allow you to gain access to the gorillas. Since different families are living in the different sections (this normally works for Bwindi, which has four sections, although it can be used for other national parks), you will need to get the permits early to get assigned a gorilla family. Because after getting the permit, you will have to book accommodation in or close to the sector assigned to you.
Gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is carried out in the Volcanoes National Park, 2 to 3 hours away from Kigali International Airport. Volcanoes National Park has about 10 habituated gorilla family groups that can be trekked all year round. The gorilla permits in Rwanda are issued by the Rwanda Development Board, and below is the cost of the permit in both the dry and wet seasons.
$1500 £1,062 or £1,232
Residents and citizens of other African countries
East African citizens
The expensive permit in Rwanda has greatly increased the country’s revenue, which has helped conserve the gorillas and the national park. There are also talks about expanding the boundaries of Volcanoes National Park due to the increase in the population of the Mountain gorillas.
Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda
Trekking in Uganda is carried out in two national parks, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. Bwindi has 19 habituated gorilla families found in the 4 sectors: Rushaga, Nkuringo, Buhoma, and Ruhija. When assigning gorilla families, the sections are considered, that is, if you have booked in Advance, although you are usually assigned to any available gorilla family for as long as it is open for trekking. Mgahinga, on the other hand, has only one habituated gorilla family that is open for trekking.
Both national parks are found in the southwest part of Uganda and can be accessed by road or air transport. The gorilla permits in Uganda are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and can be purchased directly from UWA (although this takes ages) and from local tour operators registered to operate in the country. Purchasing through a tour operator is easy and saves you time. Gorilla habituation is also carried out in Bwindi, and instead of the one hour spent trekking gorillas, habituation involves 4 hours with the primates. The cost of the gorilla permit in Uganda is listed below:
£497 or £575
East African Citizens 250, 000 UGX
The Gorilla habituation permit is $1500 per person.
Foreign residents must show their permit or proof of residence before being awarded the gorilla permit at $600 per person.
Gorilla permits in Congo: The Democratic Republic of Congo has the cheapest gorilla permit, costing only $400 per person. The gorilla permits in Congo can only be booked directly through the Virunga National Park or a trusted tour operator. Unfortunately, Congo is currently facing political unrest, which has made it hard to sell the permits, and most countries have restricted their citizens from traveling to Congo, which has left only two destinations, Uganda and Rwanda.
When you look at the cost of the gorilla permit in different destinations, one might be forced to ask whether it is all worth it, and the answer is yes, all the money spent on the gorilla trek permit and safari is worth it.
How to obtain gorilla trekking permits in Uganda and Rwanda.
Gorilla should be obtained at least 3 to 6 months before the date of the trek date, and this is for proper planning, One should be at least 12 years and not below in Uganda to be able to get a gorilla permit, and 15 years in Rwanda and you need to make sure that the information provided that is the desired travel date is the one that you want and the passport information (names, passport number, date of birth, etc.) match. Besides helping you book the gorilla permit, we can also help organize a full gorilla safari, including transport, accommodation, meals, and other safari activities.
Through an agent: gorilla permits can easily be booked through a tour operator of your choice, but you need to ensure that the chosen tour operator is registered and read all the reviews before narrowing down on one. When you choose us, the first step will be to contact us with the desired dates, and we will check to see whether the permits are available before getting back to you. When we confirm the dates, the next step is payment, and once we confirm the payment, we will book the permit and start planning your trip. A soft copy of your permit will be sent to you after booking.
Best time for gorilla permit booking
Gorilla permits are best booked at least 3 to 6 months before the expected travel date. This is because the permits during the dry/peak season are in high demand and sell out fast, not forgetting that they are sold on a first come, first serve basis.
Gorilla permit cancelation policy
Gorilla trekking permit fees are paid directly to the different governments through the Authorities responsible for wildlife, that is Uganda Wildlife Authority (Uganda) and Rwanda Development Board (Rwanda). In cases where you need to cancel and would like a refund, it is not the tour operator who do the refund on the permit but the government. Refunds will be done through the tour operator but only after the government does a reimbursement to the tour operator. The cancelation and refund policy differs and can change from time to time, although a general estimate is as follows. Note that there are requirements that need to be met for one to get a refund.
If you pay a deposit and do not full payment and then cancel, no refund will be given to you.
Cancelation 3 months before the trek date warrants a 70% refund.
A 50% refund is given if you cancel 46 to 90 days before the trek date.
25% is the refund awarded if you cancel 9 to 45 days before the trek date.
Refunds are only awarded if you cancel days before the trek date. You will only be refunded 50% when you make it to the country but fall sick or get an emergency with proof a day before or on the day of the trek.
Unlike Uganda, the cancellation and refund policy does not work in Rwanda if you cancel. There is no refund given to any gorilla trekking cancellation in Rwanda, even when you have valid reasons. The only time that you will be refunded is when you do not see the gorillas, which is rare. You will receive a 75% refund of the gorilla trekking fee if you do not see the gorillas.
The news that you may want to avoid hearing as you plan a gorilla trekking safari is ‘the gorilla permits are sold out’, and you cannot be able to trek gorillas. If you are planning a gorilla safari, you need to know that there are two seasons for gorilla trekking: the dry/peak season and the wet/low season. The earlier you book for the permit, the better to get the best deals. Last-minute booking is tedious, and there is no proper guarantee that you can get the permits.
One of the things that you should look out for when purchasing permits is where you are buying them from. Many fake permits are being sold for a low cost on the internet by individuals and tour companies that are not registered. If the permit cost is lower than the official cost on the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Rwanda Development Board pages, we advise you to avoid purchasing these gorilla permits. Gorilla permits will have all your personal information; you will be asked to present it before the gorilla trek experience.