How to Acquire a Gorilla Trekking Permit in Rwanda & Uganda

A gorilla permit is a document issued by a body (UWA in Uganda and Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN) or Rwanda Development Board in Rwanda) allowing/granting permissions or consent or an opportunity to an individual to participate in mountain gorilla tracking. This is required to be presented before you are allowed to participate in the activity and plan for its availability before you think of making other travel arrangements. A gorilla trekking permit simply confirms your gorilla safari experience because its the only document used to confirm whether you are allowed to view the primates or not. For Uganda, a total of 96 permits are sold with 88 permits for Bwindi national park for the 11 mountain gorilla groups available for tourism and 8 for Mgahinga national park for the one group available (Nyakagezi group). Because the group in Mgahinga is always on the move and unreliable, most permits are sold for Bwindi park, whereas for Rwanda 80 gorilla permits are sold for Volcanoes national park for the 10 Gorilla groups available for trekking.

A maximum of one hour is allowed per day for a group of 8 people to visit a gorilla group. The processes of tracking however can take between 30 minutes and a couple of hours (even up to 6 hours). After finding the group, a distance of 7 meters should be maintained. This prevents the likelihood of spreading diseases to these unique primates. Before acquiring the permit, make sure you are 15 years and above. For Bwindi which has four sectors it is important to know the group you have been assigned to, to determine the sector in which it is. This helps to book and plan for a nearby accommodation option.

How long does gorilla trekking take?

Is restricted from 8:30am to 7:00pm when tourists are expected to be back to campgrounds. This is regardless of whether they have seen the mountain gorillas or not. Make sure you are at the park headquarters by 7:00am for pre-tracking briefing.

How much does a gorilla permit costs?

Rates differ based on the residence status of the visitor which has to be verified at points of sale and tourists are required to show their residence status for example work permits. Tourists are categorized as foreign non residents, foreign residents, east African residents and country citizens. For both countries the permit will indicate your category. For Uganda a permit costs US $600 for foreign non residents, US $500 for foreign residents and Uganda shillings 250,000 for East African residents during the peak seasons. In the low seasons these permits are normally discounted by UWA whereby foreign non residents pay US $450, US $400 for foreign residents and UGX 150,000 for East African citizens. Do not transfer the permits between the tourists’ categories and will be penalized if caught.
Rwanda charges US$ 750 for foreign non residents, US $450 for East African residents (without east African work permits), and US $300 for east African citizens (for those with East African work permits), US $375 for Rwandan residents and 30,000 FRW for Rwandan citizens. These rates include park entry fees.

How to get a refund after cancelation of a gorilla Safari?

UWA retains the following upon cancellation of your permit; for 91 days and above prior to tracking date UWA retains 25% and refunds 75% to you, 46 to 90 days 50% is retained and the rest is refunded, for 9 to 45days before tracking it retains 75% of the fees and refunds 25% to you, for zero (0) to 8 days there is no refund.RDG and UWA refund 50% of the fees when a tourists has signs of an illness hence deemed unfit to participate especially those who had travelled to the parks. This has to be verified by the warden in charge.

How to Acquire Gorilla Permits

It is vital to determine what date, month and year you want to undertake this expedition in order to determine whether permits are available for the date chosen. If the date you wish to travel is fully booked, suggestions can be made for the nearest dates. Prior to travel, it is important to acquire or book for your gorilla permit at least 6 months earlier to avoid being disappointed because the demand for the activity (gorilla tracking) is high and competitive during the peak seasons.

Gorilla permits can be acquired indirectly through reputable tour operators in both countries. These can purchase for you a permit for Bwindi and Mgahinga parks in Uganda and Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. This is easier and more reliable for you to acquire without a hustle since they do it for you on time. Account details of the company for which to send the money for the permit (including bank charges) can be sent after which an acknowledgement will be sent to you to confirm the money being received. Tourists have to be careful when carrying out these transactions and only do so with reputable and trusted companies because fraudsters may take advantage of them. Usually tour companies charge an extra of between US$ 40 and US$ 100 for visitors booking a permit only, however usually no extra costs are charged for clients booking an entire safari trip (including other tour services like transport, accommodation etc).

Directly permits can be got through the issuing bodies. In Rwanda it is ORTPN or Rwanda Development Board (RDB) that issue gorilla permits directly and in Uganda it is the Uganda Wildlife Authority that issues the permits directly to tourists.We can help you obtain a permit in Uganda easily. All you need is to contact us and send your passport details entailing the country for which it (passport) is issued, your name, passport number. Thereafter a scanned copy of the permit will be sent to you which will now confirms and guarantees you to take part in trekking the mountain gorillas (unless sick or need to cancel the trip).

We can also help you book a mountain gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda. Its always a dream-come true while spending some quality time with the rare apes in their natural habitats.

In conclusion mountain gorilla tracking is a highly demanded activity which requires a tourist to acquire a permit ahead of time preferably 6 months earlier to be able to confirm your participation in either Uganda or Rwanda.