Gorilla tracking in Uganda is a very captivating and interesting activity; which involves walking in the wilderness of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park in search of these great apes. It can be a challenging activity, therefore ensure physical fitness. A maximum of 8 people are permitted per group per day is taken in Bwindi, and Mgahinga. So far, we have five 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.
Gorilla Permit Price in Uganda
Gorilla permits for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park costs USD500.00 per person per trek and USD350.00 for discounted rates as announced by Uganda Wildlife Authority for the months of April and May 2013. There are chances that Uganda Wildlife Authority will announce discounted rates for gorilla permits in November 2013 so please do contact us for updates about this. UWA always reviews its prices and tariffs in June every year so we are still waiting to see if gorilla permit price will be increased come June 2013. This could be due to the fact that Rwanda increased their gorilla permit price last year from $500 to $750 and Uganda might want to follow suit. Our offices are always open to advise you on the price of gorilla permits.
Gorilla Permit Booking Procedure
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 should I book my 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 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 your gorilla permit booking and we will secure it for you at no extra cost once you book a gorilla tour with us.
Can I book a gorilla permit myself?
Yes you can book your gorilla permit as long as you call 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.
How many gorilla families are in Bwindi?
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 (three months in advance)
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.
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.
50% tracking fee shall be refunded by UWA, 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 neighbouring 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 affected 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.
The acceptable payment methods are: Cash (Uganda Shillings, US dollars, GB Pounds, Euros), Note: 1. US$ notes below $100 should be 1990 & above 2. Us$100 notes should be 1997 & above Bank Transfers (net of the bank charges) Traveller’s Cheques (Present receipt of purchase at point of sale & 1% charge)
The tracking time is limited from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All visitors are expected back at the campground by 7:00 p.m.
GORILLA TRACKING IN RWANDA
Tracking gorillas in Rwanda has become a popular safari and tour activity that the government has even increased the cost of a gorilla permit from USD500.00 to USD 750.00.
There are only 700 mountain gorillas left in the world and Rwanda is the premier destination to track them. The Virunga volcanoes where Rwanda gorillas are is a 3 hour drive from Kigali, the capital. And the habituated gorilla groups are a little easier to reach from the Rwandan side, than those living in the same mountain range in Uganda and the DRC (just across the border). Tracking the gorillas takes some effort. The bush is thick with stinging and burning nettles, the slopes of the mountains are steep and muddy. But the hour you spend with the gorillas makes it more than worth the effort.
Rwanda has one park in the North of the country encompassing its share of the mountain gorilla population: the Virunga National Park or Parc National des Volcans (PNV). The park covers an area of about 46 square miles and encompasses six volcanoes. Despite the terrible genocide in the early 1990’s the country is fairly stable and the park permit system is running smoothly. The PNV was where Dian Fossey set up her base and research center. Tracking gorillas in the PNV is slightly less strenuous than at Bwindi since the gorillas move around a little less. The more open terrain also allows more light for better photo opportunities than in Bwindi.