Would you like to book gorilla permits for your travel in Uganda? Here is all the information you need to book gorilla passes.
- What is the Cost of Gorilla Permits
- How to Book Gorilla Permits
- Cancellation for Gorilla Permits
Planning a gorilla safari but wondering how much a permit gorilla cost? Before embarking on actual gorilla trek to Uganda, one of the essential things you need is a gorilla pass. It is an important requirement that allows you to take part in this life changing adventure in Bwindi Forest. One gorilla pass permits you to track a gorilla family a day. Within Bwindi Impenetrable Forest there are 19 families that have been habituated in the forest. The gorilla groups are spread in four sectors that are spread far from each other. Traveling from one sector to another takes 3-7 hours and therefore it is important to reserve the gorilla permits from the sector where you are looking at staying. Given that gorilla permits are competitive it is important to be certain of availability of gorilla permits before booking a place where you are to stay.
How much is a gorilla permit in Uganda
To track mountain gorillas in Uganda, you need $600 to help you secure a gorilla permit. This allows you to explore these creatures in the jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. This same price applies to the gorilla permits of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. These parks are both located in southwestern Uganda just at a border with DR Congo along the Albertine rift valley.
You are advised to book your permit early enough to avoid disappointments. This is due to that there is a high demand for permits and the fact that treks are limited to only 8 visitors per habituated family per day, you really need to secure one early enough before the actual trek. Finding gorilla permits gets harder especially during the peak season which is also the dry season. This period starts from June to September and from December to February. Please be in the know that some tourists book gorilla permits a year in advance.
Though most travelers prefer the peak months, gorilla treks are also possible during wet or rainy season. This period is also regarded as the low season that begins from March to May and from October to November.
Book Your Gorilla Permits
To book a permit in Uganda, you need to deal with a reliable, trustworthy tour operator. The other possibility is for you book a gorilla permit in person at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Booking a permit through a local tour operator usually makes the process faster compared to if you booked it through UWA.
Most important to take note is that, tour companies can add an extra fee of about $50-$100 per permit. The extra charge per permit covers the cost and logistics of booking the gorilla permits such as making calls, picking the permits, delivering it to you and other administrative costs. For prepackaged tours, a gorilla permit is already included in the price.
The process for booking permit
Please let your tour operator know the dates you intend to track gorillas to ease planning process. By so doing, a tour operator then lets you know if the dates you prefer to take part in this adventure are indeed available and temporarily book them for you. You will be sent bank details for you to make money transfer for your permit or even make payment by credit card. The tour operator then sends you acknowledgement email for the money transfer and you are requested to instruct your bank deduct bank charges for the transaction from your account to avoid less payment for the permit that may make you miss your permit or rather incur extra cost that you never planned for. The extra costs may be for services such as telephone calls, transport that are incurred while securing a permit for you. After, send a copy of your passport that has your details that will be used during permit registration. Your full names, nationality and the passport number are some key things needed when registering your permit, so please do present them early enough. Your names will then be registered and a permit is acquired for you. After the payments are effected the permit is obtained for you however, take note that this permit alone doesn’t guarantee you a 100 percent to see mountain gorillas but gives you about 95% chances.
Checking availability of Gorilla trekking permits online in Uganda
When booking gorilla tours in Uganda, checking availability of Gorilla permits is always the first recommended step so that you book your trip within the dates that have space for trekking in either Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Once you have your planned dates of travel, you need you to send an email to your tour operator so that they check for you the availability of permits online. This is done through a booking system managed and controlled by Uganda Wildlife Authority that can only be accessed by tour operators in Uganda. This booking system displays the dates with availability and those fully booked, so once you provide your dates, you will be able get information on which dates have availability that you can book your gorilla tour on.
How to book and purchase gorilla permits in Uganda?
Once you have confirmed dates with availability, the next step will be booking the permits and purchasing them through a tour operator in Uganda. You can book your permits partially and then make payment through the tour operator who will go ahead and purchase for you the permits accordingly. Gorilla permits in Uganda can only be purchased from the headquarters of Uganda Wildlife Authority. You will need to book and purchase your permit in advance for your gorilla trek given the fact these sell out very quickly on first come first serve basis. It is advised you at least purchase your permits 2-3 months in advance before traveling to Uganda for your gorilla safari. However, depending on availability, it is also possible to book your gorilla permits at last minute of your travel to Uganda.
Do you own the Gorilla permit after purchasing it?
After purchasing a gorilla permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority you are given a receipt to confirm purchase, which has a booking ID that is always considered when signing in for your trek at either Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Depending on your dates of the gorilla trek, you will not be able to get the gorilla permit card until it is one week to the trekking date. If you purchase your gorilla permit through a tour operator, they will send you a scanned copy of the permits receipt for your records and perusal to confirm that your permits are purchased and secured for a given tracking date. You will own the gorilla permit after purchasing it up to the time of signing in for your trek and once your date of trekking has reached, you will leave your gorilla permit card with Uganda Wildlife Authority authorities who later send it back to the headquarters for reuse.
How long is the Gorilla permit valid in Uganda?
A Gorilla permit is valid from the time you purchase it to the time of your trekking date. After the gorilla tracking date, the booking ID expires and the permit becomes invalid. This is why it is advisable you plan for your gorilla trek well in advance so that you are able to make it for the booked trekking date. But it is also well understandable that due to uncertainties sometimes, one may not make it for his/her booked date of trekking. With this, it advised you reschedule at least two weeks before your trekking date through contacting Uganda Wildlife Authority or your Tour operator.
Non Refundable: Gorilla Permits are non refundable. However, a refund can be made under the following circumstances;
- UWA shall refund the full tracking fee, if the visitor fails to track due to illness, this will be at discretion of Warden in Charge and this clause only applies to visitors who have made their way to either Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
- Visitors who fail to track the gorillas (Mgahinga Gorilla National Park) as a result of their movement to the neighboring country shall receive a full refund on their permits. However, visitors who would track the whole day and fail to view the gorillas for one reason or another will be refunded 75% of the tracking fee. All refunds shall be effected at UWA Headquarters in Kampala through the Reservations Office.
- 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)
Rates differ based on the residence status of the visitor. The three categories are NON RESIDENTS, EAST AFRICAN RESIDENTS AND UGANDAN CITIZENS. Visitor category will be verified at point of sales and checkin prior to gorilla trekking. Visitors should always carry proof of residence at the briefing center.
No stand-by permits are sold in either Bwindi or Mgahinga any longer. However, if there is a ‘no-show’ or an individual was unable to track because of sickness and you happened to be there you certainly would be offered the permit for purchase by the National Park on spec. This would be at the current tracking fee. There are no provisons for discounts in such situations.
A plan of action to secure a permit whilst still in Kampala is to approach a tour operator that holds a permit during the period you would like to track. UWA can tell you who holds the permits for your interested dates and advise their contacts details. This is a bit of a shot in the dark approach to getting a permit but can prove to be fruitful although usually a tour operator or individual makes it known to UWA themselves that they have a permit available for resale.
Tracking Time is between 8:30AM to 7:00PM. Pre-tracking brief is at the park headquarters starting at 7:45AM. Please endeavor to attend the briefing session. Visitor are expected to be out of the forest by 7.00PM latest.