Jungle Safaris | Best time to go: June to August and December to February
Gorilla Destinations: Bwindi Impenetable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park, Virunga National Park
Activities: Gorilla Trekking, Primates Viewing, Nature Treks, Bird Watching, Native Community Tours
Book Gorilla Permits in Uganda & Rwanda
A gorilla permit is a license issued to the traveller allowing them to be guided in the gorilla jungle to find a habituated gorilla family and spend close to 60 minutes in their presence. An exhilarating activity done in only three countries in the world – Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo.
Gorilla permits are issued by government conservation authority bodies in the respective countries. In Uganda, you can only book gorilla permits with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). In Rwanda, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) issues the gorilla permits. Booking gorilla permits with the government authority may turn out to be cumbersome for you, we recommend you seek help of a travel agent to simplify the process for you. Gorilla Safaris Uganda offers this services to its travellers and we would be gland to help you out and include this in your trip price at no added cost.
How much do gorilla permits cost in Uganda or Rwanda?
A Gorilla permit in Uganda for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park costs USD $600 per person (May 2018). A Rwanda gorilla permit for Volcanoes National Park cost USD $1500. This was increased recently from $750 in case you’re wondering.
Uganda Wildlife Authority 2018 to 2019 has not offered discounted rates on gorilla trekking permits and chimpanzee tracking permits, the prices will be maintained at $600 and $150 respectively. UWA has always been reviewing its prices and tariffs every year to $450 during low seasons, April and November but not this time.
You can book gorilla permits in Uganda considering the following tourist categories for 2018-2019:
- Foreign Non-residents = US $600
- Foreign Residents to US $500
- Ugandans/East Africans – UGX 250000
The number of people allowed to go gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda is restricted on a particular day. This is done to ensure least behavioral disturbance to the mountain gorillas as well as reduce the risk of them catching contagious human illnesses.
A maximum of 8 people are allowed to trek each gorilla group per day. That restriction makes it competitive to book gorilla permits especially during peak seasons. It is therefore necessary to book permits as early as possible. We strongly advise you book at least 3 months in advance to ensure that you can track on the requested date, especially if you plan to trek during the peak season (school holidays) or if you are in a large group.
So far, we have eight groups for viewing. There are four groups in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, (Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, and Nkuringo) and one (Nyakagezi) in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. New Gorilla Families are yet to be officially opened for tracking safaris.
Booking procedures for gorilla permits
You require a gorilla permit to trek Uganda gorillas found in two National Parks of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park all found in south western Uganda. Gorilla permits can be obtained from Uganda Wildlife Authority Head Offices in Kampala just after Uganda Museum on Kiira Road. Every day, UWA sells gorilla permits for all gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga.
Offices are always open from 9:00am to 5:00pm in the evening. Please contact us for your gorilla permit which we can pre-purchase for you at no extra cost once you book a gorilla safari with us. Please contact us and we will check availability of gorilla permits at UWA for you and go ahead to buy once you have transferred money on our account. You will need to send us your details in terms of names, passport number, and nationality as Uganda Wildlife Authority requires them in order to issue your gorilla permit.
When to book a gorilla permit
You need to contact us to advise you on when to book your gorilla permit. It is agreed that for peak and high seasons, you need to book your gorilla permit at least 5 months in advance while in low seasons, you can even book it there and then.
High gorilla trekking seasons in Uganda are June, July, August, September and early November and then December, January and February. Gorilla permits tend to be very scarce and if you intend to trek gorillas during this month, you need to book them way back in advance. Please do contact us for a gorilla permit booking and we will secure it for you at no extra cost once you book a gorilla safari holiday tour with us.
You can still book a gorilla permit by your self by calling Uganda Wildlife Authority offices. They can be reached on +256-414-355402/3/4/5 and you will talk to one person in reservations who will then tell you if gorilla permits are available. They will provide you with a form which you need to fill and then transfer funds to their account. Once they receive the money, they will then book your permit.
On arrival in Uganda, you have to go to their office in person with all your identifications to pick your gorilla permit. The only challenge with this method is that you might call and call and call and nobody picks due to the traffic caused by those calling reservation but please keep trying and someone will pick your phone.
Gorilla Families found in Bwindi impenetrable national park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has about 12 gorilla families which are located in the Northern part and southern part of this tropical rain forest. The northern part of Buhoma and Ruhija has Mubare, Rushegura, Habinyanja, Bitukura, Oruzogo and Kyaguriro which is for research. The southern sector has Kahungye, Nshongi, Mishaya, Businye, Bweza and Nkuringo. Mgahinga National Park has one gorilla family called Nyakagezi but this group keeps on migrating to Rwanda and if you are interested in this gorilla family, permits are sold on ground and you need to contact us for availability. We can advise you on the best gorilla family to trek once you tell us your interest.
Long Term Advance Booking Allocations
Uganda Wildlife Authority allows advanced booking of up to two years as long as a deposit of 30% is made and the balance shall be paid 91 days to the tracking date. Late top up of 70% is not permitted but may be considered 7 days, and will attract a Surcharge of 20% beyond which deposit is forfeited without refund. 80% of all the gorilla permits in each month can be booked for two years in advance by the Association of Uganda Tour Operations (AUTO) members only.
Foreign tour operators will book through local tour operators. Each tour operator (AUTO) shall book up to only 20 permits for that particular month on the day the booking opens, which is the first working day (Monday to Friday) of the month.
Short time booking
Individual trackers can buy from Uganda Wildlife Authority not more than 2 permits for the month. There is no guarantee, which dates or how many per day will be available. Booking can be done on the day the booking opens, which is the first working day of the month,Please do contact us for last minute gorilla permit booking and we will secure it for you at no extra cost once you book a gorilla tour with us, ([email protected])
Gorilla Permit Limits.
Gorilla Permits not sold on the day the booking opens will be open for sale the following day with no limits on the number each tour operator would buy. Refunds/Cancellation Guidelines
UWA shall refund 50% tracking fee, if the visitor fails to track due to illness, this will be at recommendation of the Warden in Charge and this clause only applies to visitors who have already tracked BINP or MGNP.
Visitors who fail to track the gorillas (MGNP) as a result of their movement to the neighboring country shall receive a full refund on their permits. However, those who would have tracked the whole day and failed to view the gorillas for one reason or another will be refunded 75% of the tracking fee. All refunds shall be effected through the Reservation Office at UWA Headquarters in Kampala.
UWA will retain the following percentages upon cancellations;
0 – 8 days to tracking date – no refund
9 – 45 days to tracking date – 75% (25% refund to client)
46-90 days to tracking date – 50%
91 days and above to tracking date – 25% (75% refund to client)
Any refund to be made on the 30% deposit shall be at the value of the permit.
Permits must be sold at face value, whoever sells at higher value will be penalized.
Primary sale of permits by individuals or tour companies anywhere is illegal. All permits MUST be sold by Uganda Wildlife Authority only.
Payment for gorilla permits must be made directly to Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Reschedules of Permit Reservations
Reschedules of Permit reservations are not permitted, except if it is more than 91 days to tracking date and is within (7) seven days of rescheduled date. This will attract a reschedule fee of 20%. Any other charges of the date will be considered as a cancellation and a re-booking. A cancellation policy will therefore apply and re-booking a new date at the full cost of a permit.
Payment Terms of the gorilla permits:
The acceptable payment methods are:
Cash (Uganda Shillings, US dollars, GB Pounds, Euros),
The tracking time is limited from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All visitors are expected back at the camp ground by 7:00 p.m.