Do I need a gorilla permit to trek gorillas?

If you are planning to visit Africa on a safari holiday tour, then you must have heard of mountain gorilla trekking. Gorilla trekking/gorilla tracking is one of the most profound wildlife safari activities in Africa, described by most past travelers as a life changing experience. Trekking mountain gorillas involves hiking in dense forests and navigating through rough terrains and thick jungles to see mountain gorillas. The experience is really unique, challenging, and worthwhile at the same time. Do I need a gorilla permit to trek gorillas? To trek these gentle giants in their natural habitats, you need a gorilla trekking permit.

The gorilla trekking experience is a life changing experience. Imagine indulging deep in the tropical rainforests of Africa to search for these gentle primates and upon seeing them you get to feel the familiarity with humans! Mountain gorilla trekking tours are truly unbeatable. If you are wondering Do I need a permit to trek gorillas? Yes, you need to acquire a gorilla trekking permit to be able to trek mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

There are only three countries (Uganda, Rwanda, and D.R Congo) in the world where you can go for gorilla trekking safaris/gorilla trekking tours in Africa and each country offers gorilla trekking tickets to visitors at different prices. If you are planning a gorilla trekking tour to Africa, one of the most important things we recommend booking in advance is the gorilla trekking permit.

 

What is a gorilla trekking permit? – Why do I need a gorilla permit?

All that said, you need to know what is a gorilla permit or gorilla trekking permit? If you are planning to visit any of the gorilla trekking destinations for mountain gorilla tours, then you are required to have a gorilla trekking permit to be allowed to trek mountain gorillas. A trekking gorilla permit is a legal document that grants visitors the legal right to trek and observe mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Gorilla permits are issued by Authorities responsible for gorilla conservation and habitat protection. Uganda gorilla permits are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) an Authority responsible for gorilla protection in Uganda. Rwanda gorilla permits are issued by the Rwanda Development Board, which is responsible for gorilla conservation in Rwanda.

Why gorilla permit? Mountain gorillas are an endangered species with a few thousand left in the Virunga massif and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda, many travelers all over the world wish to have a glance at these gentle giants in their natural habitat. The fact that they are endangered makes them more appealing to visitors to see. This therefore attract a lot of travelers which may have a negative impact on the gorillas and their habitat.

To regulate the number of people who visit gorillas in their natural habitat, the gorilla permits were introduced. These permits are sold to individual travelers and are valid for a single trek per person. During the peak season, the gorilla tickets are always in high demand and sell out faster. We recommend booking your gorilla trekking permit well in advance to avoid last minute frustration.

With our experience in organizing gorilla safaris in Rwanda and Uganda, we can easily help you book your gorilla trekking permit for both Uganda and Rwanda.

Where to go for gorilla trekking in Africa? – Gorilla trekking destinations in Africa

If you ever think of mountain gorilla trekking, think of east Africa. There are only three countries that inhabit the rare and endangered mountain gorillas, Uganda, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo. Gorilla trekking in these countries id done in designated gorilla National Park. Three of the gorilla safari parks are located within the Virunga region, stretching across three countries of Uganda, Rwanda, and D.R Congo.

There are four gorilla trekking National Parks in Africa and among the four, two are located in Uganda. Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has the largest gorilla population making it a good destination for gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda. The other National Park located in Uganda is Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Mgahinga however has only one large habituated gorilla family.

The other two gorilla National Parks include Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park in D. R Congo. Rwanda Volcanoes National Park is the most popular gorilla trekking destination in Rwanda. To see gorillas in all gorilla trekking destinations, you are required to have purchased a gorilla trekking permit.

 

How much does a gorilla trekking permit cost?

The prices of gorilla permits however vary between different gorilla trekking locations. Uganda is a little bit cheaper compared to Rwanda. Despite being expensive, gorilla trekking tours are worthwhile and one to include in your bucket list when planning an African safari tour. Here is all you need to know about the cost of gorilla trekking permits;

How much does a gorilla permit cost in Uganda – Uganda gorilla permit costs

Uganda Gorilla permits are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), an Authority responsible for protecting endangered mountain gorillas and their habitat. A Uganda gorilla permit costs about $800 per person per trek for foreign non-residents. Foreign residents with work permits in Uganda, however, pay a little less than foreign non-resident. A Uganda gorilla permit for foreign residents costs about $700 per a person per trek

For east African nationals, the cost of a gorilla permit is UGX 300,000 per person per a trek. You can acquire you permit directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority or through a reputable and registered tour operator like Acacia Safaris Limited. Book your gorilla trekking tour with us and discover Africa.

Note: Uganda Wildlife Authority offers permits at face value and the price is the same regardless of where you buy it from. Let us save you the hustle of acquiring a gorilla permit in Uganda, inquire with us today.

 

Rwanda Gorilla Permit costs/ prices – How much does a gorilla permit cost in Rwanda

Gorilla permits in Rwanda are a little bit expensive compared to Uganda. Rwanda gorilla permit costs $ 1,500 (£1,062/£1232) per person per trek for foreign non-residents. There are also other gorilla permit offers in Rwanda and this include; $300 for East African Nationals, $500 for foreign residents with working permits in Rwanda.

If you are planning to visit Rwanda for gorilla trekking safari tours, we recommend booking your gorilla permits prior enough. Permits sell out quickly during the peak season in Rwanda and obtaining them can at times be so difficult. We therefore recommend booking well in advance to save yourself from last-minute frustration.

What to Pack for Gorilla Safaris

When planning for your gorilla trekking tour to Africa, it is essential to have a good packing list. This essential list must contain all the important items that you will need during the safari. It is important to note that gorilla trekking happened in tropical African forests that are thick and inhabit various types of species and insects. It is important to have a safe trek in the forest. Here are the must carry items for gorilla trekking safaris to Affrica;

Insect Repellant

Camera and lenses

Comfortable walking or hiking boots

Hut and sunscreen

Rain jacket

Sweater/fleece

Gardening gloves

Binoculars

This is a brief of what you should carry (pack) for your gorilla trekking safari in Africa.

 

Other frequently asked questions about gorilla permits

How far in advance should I book a gorilla permit?

Depending on the time of the year you are planning to visit for gorilla trekking, we recommend booking your gorilla trekking permit well in Advance. How far in advance should I book a gorilla permit? The exact period may not be known however, we recommend booking your gorilla permit at least 2 to 3 months earlier. Gorilla permits usually sell out quickly especially during the peak season which typically runs from June to October. During the peak season, we recommend also booking your accommodation prior your visit.

Are gorilla permits refundable?

Can I receive a refund for a gorilla trekking permit? When planning a gorilla safari tour, you will book your gorilla permit either directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority or a reputable tour operator. Many tour operators require payment between 30% – 50% of your safari to be able to secure for you your gorilla trekking permit.

Are gorilla permits refundable? When booking a gorilla permit it is important to know that gorilla permits are non-refundable especially if full payment has been made to the Uganda Wildlife Authority. If your tour operator didn’t pay the full amount for the permits and made a partial payment to reserve them, then you can expect about a 60 – 70% refund in case of cancellation of your tour.

Can I get a refund on my gorilla permit in Rwanda? No, unfortunately Rwanda gorilla permits are non-refundable after purchase.

How many gorilla permits are available per day?

The number of gorilla permits available per a day varies depending on the destination you are visiting and the number of habituated gorilla families. Uganda has the highest number of habituated gorilla families with currently around 21 different gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. This therefore means that Uganda offers the biggest number of gorilla trekking permits per day. Uganda offers over 168 gorilla trekking permits and about 8 gorilla habituation permits in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Nevertheless, the number of permits is expected to even increase especially for Bwindi since the habituation process of wild gorillas is still ongoing. The gorilla habituation is also an added experience besides the normal gorilla trekking that only allows you one hour with gorillas. The habituation is only done in Bwindi and there are only 8 permits available per day.

On the other hand, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park offers up to 96 gorilla trekking permits per a day. With these few permits in Rwanda, it is best recommended to book your gorilla permit in Rwanda well in advance especially if you are planning to travel during the peak season.

What is included in the cost of a gorilla permit?

The fact that a gorilla trekking permit is expensive, you may wonder what exactly it covers. The total cost of a gorilla trekking permit entails a number of services and conservation benefits. The gorilla trekking permit covers the entrance fees of the gorilla trekking park, services of professional ranger guides, and also conservation fees.

Other personal expenses like meals, porters, water, transport, and accommodation are however not catered for on the gorilla trekking permit fees. This means after booking your gorilla trekking permit, you will still have to budget for the above. We however offer affordable gorilla trekking tour in Uganda and Rwanda, book with confidence and experience Africa.

Do I need a gorilla permit for children?

If you are planning to visit Uganda or Rwanda for a gorilla trekking safari with your children, it is best important to understand whether your children can actually embark on gorilla trekking.  The minimum gorilla trekking age is 15 years. Do I need a gorilla permit for children? Children above 15 years of age are eligible for mountain gorilla trekking and require a gorilla trekking permit to enjoy the experience.

Can I transfer my gorilla permit to someone else?

Reselling a gorilla trekking permit can be possible and impossible at the same time. The possibility of reselling your gorilla permit is mainly influenced by how you purchased your gorilla trekking permit. If you purchased your gorilla trekking permit through a tour operator that is AUTO (Association 0f Uganda Tour Operators) registered, you stand a high chance of reselling your gorilla trekking permit in case you fail to make it to the trekking dates.

This however does not solely contribute to the success of reselling a gorilla trekking permit as other factors like the dates and season can still influence the demand for permits. Reselling a gorilla ticket during the peak season can be more possible than during the wet season. During the peak season, tickets are on high demand and usually sell out quickly, creating more demand for permits.

In Rwanda, it is also possible to transfer your ticket from one individual to another without changing the trekking dates. If the permit is not fully paid for, the individual will have to pay the remaining fee. The transfer should at least be 30 days or more before the trekking dates.

Are there any age restrictions for obtaining a gorilla permit?

Trekking mountain gorillas in Africa is restricted to only individuals above 15 years. Only persons above 15 years are eligible and can be allowed to obtain a gorilla ticket in all gorilla trekking destinations in Africa. Why 15 years and above? The gorilla trekking age limit is put at 15 years and above because travelers below 15 years are considered young with unpredictable behavior.

What is the process for obtaining a gorilla permit?

Acquiring a gorilla trekking ticket is a process that involves several steps. Firstly, you need to select a destination where you would like to conduct your gorilla trekking tour from. There are a number of safari parks in East Africa that offer gorilla trekking experiences. Uganda has two gorilla trekking parks including Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The other National Parks where gorilla trekking can be done include; Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in D.R Congo. Each National Park offers gorilla trekking permits on a daily at a given cost.

After deciding which National Park to trek, you will have to check for availability. The fact that gorilla permits are limited to a certain number each day, you need to check for the availability of the permits during the dates you are planning to visit.

Booking: After you have found the availability of these permits, we recommend booking them instantly. Some gorilla trekking parks allow online booking and others require payment in cash form. We shall help you with the booking process.

To accomplish the booking process, you will need to provide some information such as names, passport details, and other relevant information. Pay for the ticket and wait for payment confirmation.

On the day of your gorilla trekking tour, you will provide your gorilla trekking permit at the visitors center to be allowed to trek gorillas.