The Gorilla Trekking Permit Booking Guide
Gorilla trekking permit booking can be easily and smoothly processed through a licensed tour company. Fortunately Enjoy Safaris Africa is a legally registered company in Uganda which is capable of booking gorilla trekking permits as well as organizing Gorilla safaris in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC. However if a client wishes to be assisted with only booking the gorilla permit, it is also possible though the company will charge you an extra fee of $50 per permit.
Below are the things you need to know about the gorilla trekking permit.
What is a gorilla trekking permit?
A gorilla trekking permit is a document or an authorization card that allows tourists to visit mountain gorillas in the protected areas/national parks on a Gorilla hunt or Gorilla trekking safari in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC. A gorilla permit for gorilla trekking allows you to spend one hour with these endangered gorillas while a gorilla permit for gorilla habituation allows you to spend 4 hours with a gorilla group at a different cost and it is only done in Uganda. No permit can be reserved without making payments.
Difference between Gorilla trekking and Gorilla habituation.
gorilla trekking is done in a group whereby only 8 tourists are involved in a gorilla trek as they hike into the forest in search of the habituated gorillas and when they encounter a gorilla family, they are only allowed to spend one hour observing them.
During gorilla trekking, tourists are accompanied with guides as well as armed park rangers.
gorilla habituation is also done in a group though only four tourists are allowed during gorilla habituation and this experience involves spending four hours with one gorilla family that is habituated per day whereby tourists are involved in the process of gently introducing wild mountains gorillas to the sight and presence of humans for research, care and conservation purposes.
During gorilla habituation, Tourists are accompanied with Researchers, rangers, Gorilla doctors and conservationists.
Gorilla Habituation experience is only done in Rushaga sector in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which is found in South-Western Uganda
Government Organizations that issue Gorilla Permits
In Uganda, gorilla trekking permits are issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority only. Tourists can directly purchase gorilla permits from this organization. However marketing and permit booking is done by tour operators who are registered in the Association of Uganda tour operators which is licensed by Uganda Tourism Board. Luckily Enjoy Safaris Africa is a licensed tour company under Association of Uganda Tour Operators.
In Rwanda, gorilla permits are issued by Rwanda Development Board however gorilla permits can as well be purchased through a tour company since it’s easier for tour operators to purchase permits and they can provide much more than a permit for instance organizing a safari itinerary, Transportation, Accommodation and meals.
In DRC, gorilla permits are issued by Virunga Tourism Office located at the Goma border. Just like in the above mentioned countries, gorilla permits can as well be purchased through a safari/tour company.
Cost of gorilla permits for gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC
A gorilla permit in Uganda costs $700 for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents of East Africa which consists countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania. For the East African Citizens, it costs 250,000 UGX throughout the year per person.
A gorilla permit in Rwanda costs $1500 per person and this applies to foreign nonresidents, foreign residents of East Africa and the East African citizens throughout the year. There are no special offers.
A gorilla permit in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the cheapest at a cost of $400 per person for foreign nonresidents and $200 for Congolese citizens.
Gorilla permits for gorilla habituation costs $1500 which allows you to spend 4 hours observing the gentle giants in Uganda only.
How to book a gorilla trekking permit.
In Uganda, you can directly call or send an email to a trusted licensed tour/safari company to make a gorilla trekking permit reservation in advance because it is easier and favorable especially to tourists who are out of Uganda. To save you all the unnecessary trouble, you can book with Enjoy Safaris Africa or directly contact Uganda Wildlife Authority offices to make a gorilla permit booking/reservations as well as inquiries.
In Rwanda, you can directly purchase a gorilla permit from Rwanda Development Board as well as contacting Enjoy Safaris Africa since it’s a licensed tour company based in Uganda and capable of booking/ reserving a gorilla trekking permit rightfully and organizing a gorilla trekking adventure in East Africa mainly in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC.
In DRC, you can book a gorilla permit by contacting the Park management through a direct call or an email to the Virunga’s Tourism offices in Goma or contacting a tour company like Enjoy Safaris Africa since they can handle all the tour formalities like gorilla permit booking, hotel booking and transportation means.
How many gorilla permits are always issued per day?
Uganda Wildlife Authority currently issues 160 gorilla permits per day and these are split between the ones for gorilla trekking and others for gorilla habituation which is mainly done in Rushaga sector in Bwindi Impenetrable National park.
Rwanda Development Board issues only 96 gorilla permits per day for tourists interested in visiting the mountain gorillas in Rwanda hence it is better to book in advance.
The Virunga Tourism offices in Goma issues 64 gorilla permits on a daily basis for those who wish to embark on a gorilla safari to encounter these gentle giants.
How gorilla permits are allocated in Rwanda, Uganda and DRC.
At first gorilla permits were allocated according to mountain gorilla families however lately gorilla permits are sold out depending on the area of tracking which is done at the headquarters of the National parks by the park management and this applies to Uganda, Rwanda and DRC. Where by Uganda has 5 gorilla trekking sectors, four are found in Bwindi Impenetrable national park namely; Buhoma, Nkuringo, Rushaga and Ruhija and the last one is found in Mgahinga Gorilla national park.
Gorilla permits are issued according to different sectors so you cannot go for gorilla trekking in Nkuringo yet the permit is issued for trekking in Buhoma sector. That is not allowed.
Validity of a gorilla permit
Gorilla permits also have a period of validity before they expire. A permit is always valid until you embark on your gorilla trekking experience and it expires immediately after encountering and spending one hour with a gorilla family. However in case there was an emergence and you were not able to use your gorilla permit on the booked tracking date, you can makes changes and re book the permit at no extra cost provided you have evidence as to why you were not able to use it on the booked gorilla tracking date.
Cancellation of a gorilla permit
Cancellation is allowed however only 50% of the total gorilla trekking fees can be refunded in case you cancel the gorilla trekking activity between 46 and 90 days to the scheduled tracking date and the Uganda Wildlife Authority retains the other 50%. However, when you cancel between 90 days and above, 75% is refunded as for the Uganda Wildlife Authority retains 25%.
Seasons when gorilla permits are available and scarce.
Despite the fact that gorilla trekking can be done throughout the year, there are times when gorilla permits are scarce depending on the seasons namely;
During the peak season which includes June, July, August, September and February, the gorilla permits are scarce however one can be guaranteed of gorilla trekking after acquiring a permit.
During the low season which is between March to May and October to November, gorilla permits always available however it is always better to book earlier and during this low season, hotels tend to reduce on their rates as well to attract more tourists.
When to book a gorilla permit.
It is always better to book earlier like 10 months before confirming a gorilla safari as well as the travel dates to avoid unnecessary inconveniences and losses. Booking earlier gives assurance to tourist and secures your spot to go for gorilla tracking whether during the high or low season.
What is needed to book a gorilla permit?
There are certain things required when booking a gorilla trekking permit. You are obliged to present your passport or any other identification document with the rightful name and date of birth as well as your nationality.
Note: Uganda Wildlife Authority cannot issue a gorilla permit for a person below 15 years.
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