Which months have discounted gorilla permits in Uganda and Rwanda?
Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda has always been termed as an expensive affair, and this is because of the cost of the permit, which is always set by the governing bodies of the respective countries. A gorilla trek involves hiking through the forests in search of the mountain gorillas, which trekked only in their natural habitat. Tourists always try to find ways of reducing the gorilla safari costs and usually ask whether there are discounted permits in this article, we are going to be discussing how to purchase the discounted gorilla permits and whether they are available in both countries. Gorilla permits are booked in advance and are the ticket one should use to access the mountain gorillas in their respective habitats.
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There are currently no gorilla permit discounts in Uganda. The cost of a gorilla permit in Uganda depends on the category you fall under. These are $700 for foreign/international non-residents, 250 0000 UGX for East African citizens and Ugandans, and $600 for foreign residents.
Gorilla trekking is one of the main activities carried out in Uganda in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. Both national parks are found in southwest Uganda and can be accessed by either flying to the nearest Kisoro or Kihihi Airstrip from Kajjansi Airstrip and Entebbe International Airport or by driving from Kampala for about 9 to 10 hours. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has four sections where gorilla trekking takes place: the Buhoma sector, Nkuringo, Ruhija, and Rushaga sectors. Each sector has gorilla families open to the public, and for tourists who plan on participating in the habituation process, the Rushaga sector is the place to be. After locating your assigned gorilla family, you spend an hour with the gorillas in Bwindi and 4 hours during the habituation process. Bwindi has 19 gorilla families, and Mgahinga National Park has one gorilla family open for trekking, which can be accessed throughout the year.
Gorilla permits in Uganda are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and distributed to the different tour operators through the Association of Uganda Tour Operators. Permits can be purchased through your chosen tour operator planning your gorilla safari or directly through the Uganda Wildlife Authority. You should note that the process of purchasing directly from UWA is a long one and can be frustrating. The cost of a gorilla permit is set by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and foreign non-residents pay $700, foreign residents $600, and East African citizens (Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania) pay 250000 UGX.
Conversely, the gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 per person. The gorilla permit gives you an hour with the gorillas, whereas the gorilla habituation permit gives you 4 hours with the permits.
Permits in Uganda are always in high demand during the dry season: December to February and June to September Therefore need to be purchased in advance to avoid last-minute purchases and disappointments and you should also note that there are several companies online selling fake permits so you need to be aware.
Rwanda, unlike Uganda, has discounted permits during the low season in November to May. For all tourists planning on traveling during the low season, the cost is $1050 per permit. Gorilla permit discounts are offered during the low season on condition that you book a safari in one of the national parks in the country. Rwanda has other national parks like the Nyungwe Forest National Park and Akagera National Park, where you can enjoy game viewing and the big five in Akagera, chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe, bird watching, and other activities. So tourists who plan on spending an extra day or a few days in either Akagera or Nyungwe Forest get a chance to pay for the discount gorilla permit for $1050 during the low season.
Months with discounted gorilla permits in Rwanda
The discounted permits in Rwanda are offered during the low/wet season and the months when the discounted gorilla permits are offered include the following:
October marks the beginning of the short rain period experienced in Volcanoes National Park. The rains sometimes come in heavy, and other times just drizzles, but not entirely for the whole day. This is also the start of the second low season, and it is referred to as a low season because few tourists are visiting the country during this period. The rains are experienced throughout October to November.
November: This is still a low season and few tourists get to trek during this time because of the slippery trek routes experienced during this month. Migratory birds can be seen during this period for tourists interested in bird watching.
March to May: March marks the beginning of the longest low season that lasts till May and during this period, Rwanda receives few tourists, so the gorilla permits are discounted to attract more tourists. March starts the low season, April gets the highest rainfall. We advise tourists to avoid April because of the heavy rains which causes some of the accommodation facilities to close. May is the end of the rainy season, although sometimes the rains push up to the start of June before the busy season starts.
The cost of a discounted gorilla permit is open to all tourists planning on visiting Rwanda, and these include foreign residents, East African citizens, and residents in other African countries. The cost of the permits and the percentages offered have been listed below. You should however note that these are after the percentages offered to the different categories of people for example organizations purchasing in bulk from 30 permits and above get 30%, families a 15% discount, Rwandan nationals, East African citizens, and foreign residents receive a 10% discount for individuals and 30% for tourists travelling in groups of 10 and more.
- Families (children above 15 and couples) get a 15% discount
- African foreign residents pay $500 for the gorilla trekking permit
- Rwanda and East African citizens pay $200 for the gorilla trekking permit
- Rwanda and East African foreign residents pay $500 for the permit
- African citizens pay $500 for the trekking permit
- Organizations receive a 10% discount if they purchase more than 30 gorilla trekking permits.
Rwanda has one gorilla destination, which is Volcanoes National Park. Volcanoes National Park was gazetted off to protect the endangered gorillas that were almost extinct. Volcanoes currently has over 4000 registered gorillas with 12 habituated gorilla families, meaning that 96 gorilla permits are printed daily. Gorilla permits are valid for only one day and can be purchased from a trusted tour operator like us or the Rwanda Development Board. Volcanoes National Park has several activities that tourists can engage in besides gorilla trekking. These include hiking, participating in the Kwita Izina ceremony, one of the largest ceremonies in the country where the president is always in attendance (The Kwita Izina ceremony is where tourists get to participate in naming the baby gorillas born the previous year), and bird-watching among others.
When purchasing permits, it is important to note that the cost of a gorilla permit does not include transport, accommodation, international flights, meals, accommodation, and other expenses. We can help you arrange your accommodation, transport, and meals.
Trekking rules and regulations
Gorilla trekking rules and regulations in Uganda and Rwanda were set up after gazetting off the gorilla destinations to protect the gorillas from extinction. These rules will be re-echoed during the briefing on the day of the trek and should be followed throughout the trek period. The trek rules and regulations include the following:
- The minimum age limit for trekking in Uganda is 12 years and 15 years in Rwanda.
- Tourists are advised to keep all their rubbish with them until they can dispose of it properly to avoid littering the park.
- All trekkers need to keep a distance of 7 meters from the gorillas.
- When or if you are feeling sick, we advise that you bow out of the trek to prevent spreading diseases to the highly disease-prone gorillas.
- When you feel like coughing or sneezing, turn away from the gorillas and do your business.
- There are no toilets in the forest, so you will need to dig a hole 30 cm deep and cover it up after you are through with your business.
- Tourists are not allowed to eat or drink when close to the gorillas.
- Smoking within the national parks while trekking is prohibited.
- You are not allowed to feed the gorillas.
- Turn off your flashlight on the camera when taking photos.
- Avoid putting on sunglasses while in the presence of the gorillas.
- Gorillas are generally calm primates unless provoked, so when one approaches you, go down on your knees submissively, do not run, and avoid looking at it in the eyes until it backs away.
Gorilla trekking age limit
The minimum age limit for gorilla trekking in Uganda is 12 years, and the changes were made recently to include more children in the trek. The minimum age limit for trekking in Rwanda is 15 years, and note that there is no maximum age limit as long as you are still fit. But if you still want to enjoy a gorilla trek rather than fit, there is an option of hiring sedan chairs carried around by porters during the hike. The sedan chairs need to be booked in advance, or you can still get one on the day of the trek, and these cost between $400 and $500 per person.
A gorilla permit in Rwanda costs $1500 for foreign non-residents, $200 for East African citizens, and $500 for residents for all citizens of other African countries.
What to pack for a gorilla trek in Uganda and Rwanda
You need to be extremely comfortable for a gorilla trek and the different categories of things you need to pack include clothes, footwear, personal hygiene items, documents, and gadgets. When packing for a gorilla trek, some of the essential things that shouldn’t miss out on your list include insect repellent to protect your skin from insect bites, a camera, extra lenses and batteries, binoculars, A water bottle most preferably a refillable one, waterproof and strong hiking fitting boots, Sandals and sports shoes, wet wipes, Flashlight and spare batteries, Gardening gloves to protect your hands from blisters, a rain jacket, sun hat, sunscreen, gaiters, long-sleeved shirts and trousers but you need to make sure that the clothes packed are not brightly colored, camouflage, black and blue.
When to organize or go for gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda
Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda is carried out throughout the year; however, the best time is during the dry season, one of the seasons experienced in both countries. The drier months of June to September and December to February make it easy to trek through the forests with trek routes that are clear, not muddy, and slippery. The gorillas during the drier months can easily be spotted, unlike the wet season when the bushes are overgrown. But if you are considering traveling cheaply, the wet season from March to May and October to November are the best months for gorilla trekking but get ready for the rains and muddy terrain.
In conclusion, the months with the discounted permits in Rwanda are November to May whereas Uganda does not have any discounted gorilla permits. Both countries offer great gorilla trekking experiences and if you wish to trek gorillas in both Uganda and Rwanda, this can be arranged from Rwanda where you can cross the border into Uganda to trek the gorilla families in either Mgahinga or Bwindi.