Gorilla Trekking Permits
Gorilla Trekking Permits are the identification card that is handed to you to show that you paid for the gorilla trekking activity. Visiting gorillas, commonly known as gorilla trekking, necessitates for one to have a gorilla trekking permit. A gorilla trekking permit is a document that allows one to trek mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. These gentle creatures are found in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and in Virunga National park in the Congo.
Travelers are advised to obtain a gorilla trekking permit several months before the travel date, say at the very least 3-4 months in advance. Once you acquire your trekking permit, be guaranteed that you will track the gorillas. These gorilla permits are competitive due to their scarcity, more so during the peak season of June-September and December-February. In Uganda alone, only 96 permits per day are availed to tourists for tracking, which get sold out very first due to high demand.
As said above, a gorilla trekking permit is a document issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority in Uganda and the Rwanda Development Board in Rwanda that allows a traveler above the age of 15 to trek mountain gorillas in any of the parks they are in. a gorilla permit allows entry of one person to view the primates for a maximum of one hour when with them. The trekking time varies from 30 minutes to up to 8 hours, all determined by the location of the gorillas.
Gorilla permit prices differ in the two countries of Rwanda and Uganda. In Uganda, a gorilla trekking permit as of June 2020 will be at $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents and UGX250,000 for East African citizens. Gorilla habituation experience in Uganda is at $1,500 for foreign none residents, $1000 for foreign residents and East African citizens pat UGX750,000.
In Rwanda, however, the price of a gorilla trekking permit is at $1,500 for all persons, including the Rwanda citizens. These permits can be got through Rwanda Development Board offices in Kigali or website or even Ruhengeri, which is near the Volcanoes National Park.
Gorilla permits are allocated according to the sectors. Before, Uganda Wildlife Authority used to allocate gorilla trekking permits according to the gorilla families, that if one wanted to track the Mubare gorilla group he’d purchase permits for that particular group. Currently, though, the Uganda Wildlife Authority avails permits per sector, that when you call in you are asked the sector you want to track the gorillas from and the date and if the permits are available for that particular sector and date, you get a permit for it, after paying for it of course. If permits for a sector and date you wish to track are sold out, you can change the dates or change the sector altogether. It is for this reason that travelers are advised to first purchase gorilla tracking permits before booking accommodation.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park has four sectors of Buhoma which is the north, Rushaga, and Nkuringo which are in the south and Ruhijja in the East of Bwindi. After getting your gorilla trekking permit and you present yourself at the sector headquarters for briefing and trekking eventually, you are allocated a gorilla group depending on your physical fitness and preference. If you wish to trek with family and friends, or if you want a particular group or maybe you want a hard, medium or simple trek, be sure to be allocated accordingly for as long as there is space; remember only 8 persons can trek a given gorilla group or family.
Buhoma sector, the most preferred trekking sector located in the north of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has three families of Mubare the very first habituated group, Rushegura, and Habinyanja group. Ruhijja sector has three habituated groups of Bitukura, Oruzongo, and Kyaguriro groups, while the Rushaga sector in the south of Bwindi has Kahungye, Nshongi, Mishaya gorilla families plus Busingye and Bweza gorilla families. Nkuringo sector in the south still only has one group, Nkuringo.
After the trekking activity, the permits are left at the park headquarters. In exchange though, you will get yourself a gorilla trekking certificate of completion.
Important to note;
- Trekking gorillas is for persons 15 years and above
- Gorilla permits sell out fast, booking in advance is required
- Gorilla permit fee is not refundable