Common mistakes to avoid when booking gorilla permits in Rwanda and Uganda
Booking gorilla permits begins the planning process for the unforgettable gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda and Uganda. The permit is the pass you need to get guided access to the gorillas in their protected rainforest. Apart from the passport, it is an essential travel document for the gorilla safari.
The logistical process of booking the permit can be daunting for many travelers because it involves back-and-forth communication and wire exchange of money. You can make many mistakes even when you employ a tour operator to take logistical heat.
Therefore, we have identified some of the most common mistakes you can avoid when booking gorilla permits in Rwanda and Uganda to have a seamless planning process.
Don’t plan a gorilla safari without booking a gorilla permit first.
Gorilla trekking is a highly regulated tourist activity in Rwanda and Uganda, allowing a minimal number of tourists to visit a gorilla group daily. That means the number of permits available daily is limited compared to the interested visitors.
Don’t make the mistake of booking your accommodation, flights, and anything else on your trip before you confirm that you have the gorilla permit because you may have to change your reservations.
Avoid booking your gorilla permits at the last minute.
Trying to book gorilla permits at the last minute may miserably disappoint you. As mentioned earlier, gorilla permits are horribly scarce, especially during the peak travel season when many travelers hope to travel to Uganda and Rwanda.
Permits could be sold out as long as six months ahead, so book yours three to twelve months in advance to avoid disappointment.
Don’t try to buy the permits yourself.
Although some travelers prefer booking permits by themselves, we strongly advise that you use a registered tour company. Tour companies can protect you from the gruesome local logistics involved and will help you reschedule the permit to another date in case of unforeseen eventualities.
To avoid this common mistake, look up a trusted tour company (registered with the Association of Uganda Tour Operators) that can plan your entire trip, including transport, lodging, and other activities.
Encounter Africa Safaris Ltd is trusted by many travelers and registered with AUTO to provide such services. Please email us at email@example.com with your correct names and travel dates to help you book your gorilla permits in Rwanda and Uganda.
Ensure you give the correct names to the reservation officer.
A common mistake in booking gorilla permits in Rwanda and Uganda is giving the reservation office pseudo names instead of your real names.
You see, the permit is matched with your passport details. In most instances, the booker will ask for a copy of your passport to make the permit reservation. If they don’t ask for the passport copy, insist on sending them a copy because when you get to the gorilla trekking starting point, the office will ask for your passport to verify payment and ownership.
If the permit is in some other person’s name, the office may not allow you entry into the gorilla park. So, ensure that the correct names appear on your gorilla permit before you get excited about the trekking experience.
You cannot negotiate for discounts on the gorilla permit price.
Gorilla permits in Uganda are sold at face value by government-appointed bodies; Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and Rwanda Development Board (RDB). Every traveler above 15 years can buy the gorilla permits from UWA and RDB or through a local tour operator at the advertised price.
Some tour companies will charge a sourcing fee but can never change the price of the permit. On some occasions, UWA and RDB may advertise a discounted price that everyone else will follow, but you cannot negotiate the price of a gorilla permit.
UWA currently sells gorilla permits at US$700 (£495/€575) per person to foreign non-residents. The one for foreign residents (with work permits) costs $600, and EAC nationals UGX 250,000 per person.
RDB costs the gorilla permit at US$1,500 (£1,062/€1,232) per person.
You will lose money when you cancel or let your permits expire.
The gorilla permit holder or tour operator, on behalf of the holder, can reschedule the date up to 8 days before the tracking date. Unfortunately, you can not reschedule after the expiry date.
One can book a gorilla permit up to two years ahead of the tracking date and pay at least a 30% deposit of the permit price at reservation time.
You get no refund if you cancel your gorilla trekking permit less than eight days before the tracking date. Canceling the permit ninety days before can get you back 50% or less for days closer to the tracking date.
You can always avoid the rescheduling and canceling inconveniences by hiring a local operator to handle the permits for you.
Don’t ignore gorilla permit allocation in Uganda.
Uganda Wildlife Authority operates five gorilla trekking sectors in Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks. Buhoma Sector in the north of Bwindi, Rushaga and Nkuringo Sectors in the south, Ruhija in eastern Bwindi, and Mgahinga head quarters. The sectors operate independently, are dozens of miles apart, and each has a regulated number of gorilla permits corresponding to the number of resident gorilla groups.
When booking gorilla permits in Uganda, don’t make the mistake of not knowing which sector is indicated on your tickets. Otherwise, you can not track gorillas in a sector not indicated on your permit.
Knowing the allocated sector will also help you make accommodation reservations near the trailhead to make it in time for the excursion briefing.
You cannot book a specific gorilla group.
Your friend might have recommended a gorilla group they enjoyed watching on their previous trip. It is natural to want the same, but a common mistake for many travelers is to expect the same choice. When booking your gorilla permits in Rwanda and Uganda, you cannot choose a specific gorilla group.
UWA officers assign the gorilla group to track during your briefing at the trailhead in the morning before you head off into the forest. You can maybe whisper your preferred gorilla group in the officer’s ear your preferred gorilla group. Still, it isn’t easy to influence the choice.
The easiest thing you can do is select the trailhead where your preferred gorilla group lives and ask for a gorilla permit for that sector.
Avoid these mistakes when you book with us
Booking your gorilla permits with Encounter Africa Safaris Ltd helps you avoid these common mistakes and ensures a successful trip in Uganda and Rwanda.
Encounter is a licensed operator in Rwanda and Uganda and will also book your accommodations, transport between places, and any other activity you would want to add to your journey. Send our safari consultants an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to start booking your permits right away.