Cancellation or Refunding a Gorilla Permit
Like any purchase a buyer makes, buyers usually expect to cancel the purchase or get a refund if the product doesn’t work to expectation? Gorilla trekking is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that collects a good amount of excitement over a long period to build-up to the d-day, yet the gorilla permit is quite expensive. Therefore, assurance that you’ll get what you pay for or a refund is essential in planning a gorilla safari.
On this page, we take a look at UWA’s gorilla permit refund and cancellation policies, under what circumstances is refunding possible and why should you even conder to cancel or ask for a refund. But first, what does a gorilla permit mean to a gorilla trekking safari traveller and how much does it cost to buy?
The Gorilla Permit
For a traveller to have the chance of seeing gorillas, they must purchase a gorilla permit before the activity. Only UWA issues the gorilla permit in Uganda. Only licensed local tour operators can buy the permit on your behalf; otherwise, you too can purchase the permit at UWA’s main offices after presenting a valid identity.
UWA sells the gorilla permit at $700/$600/UGX 250,000 for foreign non-residents/foreign residents/EA Nationals. Discounted Gorilla Permits are sold at $400/$300/UGX150,000 for foreign non-residents/foreign residents/EA Nationals only during UWA’s communicated discount months (find out more). The gorilla habituation permit costs $1500/$100/UGX 750,000 for foreign non-residents/foreign residents/EA Nationals. Only tourists above the age of 15 years can acquire a gorilla permit.
A gorilla trekking permit allows you armed security escorts, a knowledgeable guide and one hour with a single gorilla family. A gorilla habituation permit gives you up to four hours with a semi-habituated gorilla family.
With the help of the ranger guide from Uganda Wildlife Authority, you will start your trek from one of the trailheads in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga and track one of the assigned gorilla groups. Only eight tourists are allowed to trek a single gorilla group in a day.
What is the chance of seeing mountain gorillas?
Your chance of seeing gorillas is 98% because the trekking has been perfected over time to ensure that everyone who pays for the activity sees the gorillas.
In addition to that, Uganda has more than half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas, with 20 gorilla families available for tourism. Five trailheads spread over the two national parks provide easy access to all the habituated gorilla groups.
Also, every morning, trekkers wake up and move beforehand to establish where these gorillas would have moved. As you’re briefed on gorilla trekking rules and regulations at the trailhead, the advance team communicates with your ranger guide about the current position of the primates and how to reach them.
So following their advice, you will then start from the trailhead and your ranger will guide you to where they would have spent the previous night and then follow their path to where they will be.
However, sometimes circumstances might dictate, and you are unable to view them. It could be that maybe the family is scared or furious after a late-night attack from another gorilla family, most likely an unhabituated silverback. That could make the gorilla too agitated to entertain visitors.
In other circumstances, the gorillas may move a long distance far away from the trailhead or hide from trackers for the reasons best known to them. Such cases may not favour gorilla trekking for that day.
In respect to all that, UWA has set terms and conditions to reschedule or refund your gorilla permit if you don’t see the mountain gorillas. Talk to any of our consultants to guide you through these terms and conditions to help you avoid disappointments on your dream trip.
Gorilla Permit Cancellation and Refunds
Except as provided in the terms written below, UWA does not make any refunds of money paid for gorilla permits. The Executive Director may, upon receiving a written request, authorise
cancellation of a fully paid permit on the following terms:
Failure to view Gorillas/Chimpanzees
Where the tourist is escorted in the forest and fails to see a gorilla after tracking for almost the whole day, the Executive Director may authorise rescheduling of the permit to the following day subject to slots availability.
Where there are no available slots for rescheduling the permit, the Executive Director authorises the cancellation of the permit and a refund of 50% of the permit value upon certification/confirmation of the inability to access gorillas by the respective Warden in Charge.
Illness and accidents
UWA will not allow a visitor who may develop or shows signs of illness before tracking starts to visit the gorillas. That tourist will be referred to the nearest health facility to ascertain the extent of his disease and his inability to track gorillas.
The medical report has to confirm the illness, and the guest will incur the cost of diagnosis.
Then, the Executive Director will authorise the cancellation of the permit and process a refund of 50% of the permit value to a visitor declared unfit to track gorillas due to illness.
The above cancellation policy only applies to visitors already in the Park to track gorillas but develop or show signs of illness before tracking.
The Executive Director can authorise the cancellation of a permit and process a 50% refund to a client who fails to track gorillas due to an accident sustained in the Park before tracking.
Gorilla Permit double or overpayments.
Upon receipt of a written request, the Executive Director can authorise the refund of 100% to a client that presents evidence of double payment or any payment over and above the prevailing permit value payment.
The Executive Director may also authorise utilisation of any funds confirmed as a double payment or over payment to another tourism activity.
The Executive Director may authorise the cancellation of a permit for other reasons, other than those specified above on the following conditions;
Any request for cancellation within eight (8) days to the tracking date shall attract no refunds.
A client requesting cancellation of a permit between nine (09) to forty-five (45) days to the tracking date shall be entitled to 25% of the permit value.
A client requesting cancellation of a permit between forty-six (46) to ninety (90) days to the tracking date shall be entitled to 50% of the permit value.
A client requesting cancellation of a permit ninety-one (91) days and more to the tracking date shall be entitled to 75% of the permit value.
All requests for cancellation of permits shall be made in writing and addressed to the Executive Director, Uganda Wildlife Authority.
While considering any request for cancellation of a permit, the Executive Director can consider the date of receipt of the request as the date of cancellation for purposes of determining the refund.
What can Encounter Africa do for you?
Refunding a gorilla permit at Encounter Africa depends on several factors. For Encounter to confirm any gorilla tour, we request the booker to deposit the total amount for the gorilla permit and 30% of the total amount charged for the safari.
We pay 30% to Uganda Wildlife Authority as a deposit to pre secure your gorilla permit when this is done in advance. Then we clear the amount four months before the actual trekking date.
Uganda Wildlife Authority requires the total amount, which is non-refundable for three months to trekking. So we can only refund 70% if you contact us before it is submitted to UWA as above. But if we have already paid the entire amount to UWA, then there will be no refund.
We try to resell these gorilla permits booked by our clients just in case they don’t use them, and once we are successful, we will send you the money from reselling. Kindly note that this is not a sure way and depends on luck. Luck is high more especially during peak season.
Booking a Gorilla Trekking Safari
Encounter Africa Safaris’ teams understand clearly the gorilla permit refund and cancellation policies because of dealing with the permit booking process every day since 2003. For a first-time tourist or tour agent, booking a permit seems cumbersome to deal with, especially in this new online era.
Don’t sweat with the bureaucratic process when you have us. The government of Uganda licenses us to process gorilla permits on your behalf, following UWA’s standard procedures. Allow us to deal with the process so that you can enjoy your gorilla trekking adventure.
Book a gorilla safari, send us an email (email@example.com) or contact us through our booking form. We will also process your accommodation, transfers, meals and operate your experience during your trip. Check out our reviews for social proof.