Changes in The Golden Ticket To Gorilla Trekking Adventures In Africa : The Gorilla Permit

Travel & Leisure

  • Author Jemba Najib
  • Published February 26, 2024
  • Word count 1,560

If you want to go on a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda or Rwanda, the first thing you need to do is prepare for the gorilla permit. This is a government-issued ticket that must be reserved in advance to hike gorillas in any nation. You should be able to locate all of the information you need to book the permit, including the price, availability, and any limitations that may apply. On January 22, 2024, UWA stated that the Uganda gorilla permit will be hiked to USD 800 per person beginning July 1, 2024. Foreign residents will pay $700, the rest of Africa $500, and East African Community Citizens UGX300,000.

Gorilla trekking is a one-of-a-kind and exhilarating adventure that allows you to interact directly with Africa's endangered mountain gorillas. To go on this incredible journey, you must first secure a gorilla permit. In this essay, we will describe the gorilla permit, compare Uganda and Rwanda gorilla permits, and give important information on booking, availability, and limits.

What is a gorilla permit?

A gorilla permit is a government-issued document (or ticket) that allows tourists to hike and interact with a habituated gorilla family in their natural environment. The permit fee is a substantial source of cash for gorilla conservation and community development in rural Uganda and Rwanda, helping to safeguard these endangered primates and their habitats.

Uganda's gorilla permit fee

Gorilla Trekking Adventures In Africa

The Uganda gorilla permit costs $700 per person per trip, but it will climb to $800 on July 1, 2024. Depending on permit availability, you can opt to trek from one of five trekking centres: Nkuringo and Rushaga in the south of Bwindi, Buhoma and Ruhija in the north, and Ntebeko in Mgahinga.

The gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 per person and is only available for the Rushaga Sector, located south of Bwindi. The Uganda trekking permit permits tourists to spend one hour viewing a gorilla family, while the habituation permit allows them to spend up to four hours with the gorilla group. Both provide armed ranger protection, a skilled tracking guide, and a certificate of accomplishment.

Uganda is home to approximately half of the world's mountain gorilla population, with over 400 individuals residing in two national parks: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Between the two national parks, 20 habituated gorilla families are accessible for trekking, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority offers 8 licences for gorilla trekking and 4 permits for gorilla habituation. The Habituation Experience in Bwindi presently has only one gorilla group accessible (by June 2023).


Rwanda Gorilla Permit Price

The Rwanda gorilla permit costs $1,500 per person for each hike, with 96 permits available daily. The Rwanda permit charge is greater than Uganda's, but Rwanda's gorillas are more accessible from the International Airport, and the road network is well-maintained. Rwanda also has a unique gorilla naming ritual called Kwita Izina, which takes place in September. Visitors may help in naming newly born gorilla infants, a tradition that dates back to ancient Rwanda. The event also honours Rwanda's dedication to sustainable and responsible tourism by bringing together communities near Volcanoes National Park, research partners, veterinarians, and committed conservationists, rangers, and trackers who safeguard gorillas. The yearly gorilla festival is free but invitation-only.

Rwanda has 10 habituated gorilla groups residing on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains, which are protected by Volcanoes National Park. Volcanoes National Park has 12 gorilla groups available for trekking: Noheli (7 members), Kwisanga (17 members), Agashya (20 members), Amahoro (21 members), Igisha (34 members), Isimbi (16 members), Karisimbi (10 members), Kwitonda (20 members), Muhoza (17 members), Sabinyo (18), Susa (21), and Umubano (14).

Discounted gorilla trekking permits.

Uganda provides reduced gorilla monitoring permits to international residents for USD 600 per person and UGX 250,000 to East African nationals. Starting July 1, 2024, the fees will be $700 for foreign residents, $500 for African citizens, and UGX 300,000 for East African Community citizens. The gorilla habitat permit is decreased to USD 1000 for foreign residents and UGX 750,000 for East African natives. Rwanda offers discounted gorilla permits to international residents in Africa for $500 and East African citizens for $200 per person.

How to Reserve a Gorilla Permit in Rwanda and Uganda

Booking a Rwanda or Uganda gorilla permit requires you to go through a certified local tour operator or directly to the national park officials, but you must be at least 15 years old. In Uganda, one can visit the UWA headquarters in Kampala or contact them. However, the quickest and safest option is to use a licenced local operator, who will protect you from logistical nightmares and assist you postpone or cancel your appointment if the unexpected occurs.

Rwandan gorilla permits may be booked online using the official RDB website, Also, we strongly advise you to engage a local operator to assist you with several logistical needs that you may find difficult to traverse. The age restriction for booking a gorilla permit and trekking gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda is 15 years old, and visitors must have a valid passport. You must provide your passport information, chosen trekking date, and park of choice. Payment is required up ahead to guarantee your permit.

When should you book your gorilla permit?

Gorilla Trekking Adventures In Africa

It is recommended to book your gorilla permit at least 6 to 12 months in advance, especially if you want to go during peak season (June-September and December-February). Permits typically sell out fast during these months because to the exceptional hiking conditions and high demand. Furthermore, during high seasons, it will be difficult to locate adequate lodging across the safari zone.

If you're travelling during the low season (March-May and October-November), you can reserve your permit a few weeks or months in advance of your desired trekking date. During the low season, severe rains impede travel for many people, and paths are difficult to negotiate, resulting in a low demand for trekking permits. During this season, most safari lodges also lower their hotel rates in order to attract budget-conscious travellers.

Most crucially, book your gorilla tracking permit before you schedule anything else, including overseas travel. Once you obtain the licence, you may arrange your trip around the permit dates; otherwise, changing your dates later can be inconvenient.

Gorilla permit availability

According to the regulations, only 8 visitors can visit each habituated gorilla family per day, which means that Uganda has around 152 permits available every day and Rwanda has less than 100. Permit availability is limited, and gorilla permits sell out rapidly, so reserving in advance is crucial. Most significantly, permits are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Permit terms and conditions.

Uganda and Rwanda gorilla permits are non-refundable and non-transferable since your passport information is cross-checked to the ticket. If you cancel your gorilla trip or do not show up on the tracking day, you will not be able to receive a refund for any reason. When the ticket expires, you cannot make any claims. However, your tour operator can reschedule the permit for up to 14 days before the tracking date. You can only do this once for free; the second time will result in a 25% penalty.

If the tracking date falls within the next six months, a complete payment of 100% is necessary to secure the reservation. This guarantees that the permit is booked for the date and group size specified. To ensure a booking when the tracking date is more than six months away, a deposit of 50% of the permit's value may be required. This allows guests to plan their trip ahead of time, get permits, and finalise their travel arrangements.

If the tracking date falls within the next six months, a complete payment of 100% is necessary to secure the reservation. This guarantees that the permit is booked for the date and group size specified. To ensure a booking when the tracking date is more than six months away, a deposit of 50% of the permit's value may be required. This allows guests to plan their trip ahead of time, get permits, and finalise their travel arrangements.

Where a deposit is made, the balance of 50% must be paid within 90 days of the tracking date. Otherwise, the permit will be automatically cancelled and the customer will forfeit the payment. For online reservations, payment must be made within 72 hours. However, if you must cancel your reservation, you will suffer charges.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority has the following permit cancellation terms:

Refunds will not be issued if the tracking date is fewer than nine days away.

25% refund for 9-45 days till the tracking date.

Refunds are 50% for treks between 46-90 days and 70% for treks over 90 days.

In Rwanda, if you book your permit through Monumental Expeditions and Safaris, you can reschedule it for another day with at least 30 days' notice. However, there is an exemption for humans who are unable to monitor because of unanticipated gorilla group moves. Depending on trekking availability, customers can try again the following day or get a full refund. If you hike all day and fail to spot the gorillas, you will receive a 75% refund.

These permit terms may change at any moment without notice, so check with your booking agent to ensure you are up to speed on the latest terms.

Finally, if you're planning a gorilla trip in Uganda or Rwanda, a gorilla permit is a must-have ticket that will allow you to have a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with Africa's mountain gorillas. You must reserve your pass in advance through a licenced tour operator or directly with national park authorities, and then organise your gorilla safari itinerary around the permit dates.

I am an East African travel consultant working with monumental expeditions and safaris

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