HOW TO SECURE YOUR GORILLA TREKKING PERMITS
Gorilla Trekking Permits are one of the pre-requisites to be fulfilled before meeting face to face with the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. They have to be secured in advance, 4-6 months or even a year for travellers planning to enjoy gorilla tours during the high season or for large group travellers. The earlier your gorilla trekking permit is booked, the greater your chances of choosing where you wish to trek the mountain gorillas from a well as accommodation facilities.
Last-minute gorilla permits are possible to be secured during the low season or when it involves a small group of 1-2 individuals, although it is not guaranteed to find these permits. A gorilla permit is a document issued by ICCN, RDB or UWA allowing visitors to trek and spend time with Giant Apes in their natural habitats. The high season is from December to February and June to September.
A Habituated Gorilla Group is trekked by 8 visitors meaning a total of 96 permits are available for Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, 168 gorilla permits in Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks, and 64 gorilla permits for Virunga National Park in Congo. For each gorilla group, one hour is the time allocated for watching and photography each day.
Securing of Gorilla trekking permits
Gorilla trekking permits can be secured in two ways-Through the Authorized Government Agency in charge of wildlife conservation (Uganda Wildlife Authority, Rwanda Development Board and Institut Congolais pour la conservation de la Nature) or through a registered and credible Tour Operator. For travellers opting for the latter, these agencies are knowledgeable of the places of lodging as well as proximity of habituated gorilla groups. Additionally, they are conversant with the remote regions in addition to their drivers being experienced in maneuvering through steep, dirt, muddy and slippery paths. Even visitors that wish to extend their safaris can receive recommendations from these Tour Operators in addition to booking for transportation to and from the Gorilla Parks.
Requirements for securing Gorilla Trekking Permits
When booking for gorilla trekking permits, you will be required to present;
The intended gorilla trekking date for the booking agent to check availability and if not confirmed positive, a nearer date will be suggested and therefore you need flexibility when booking for gorilla trekking permits,
Passport details: In form of your name, passport number and Nationality which will be indicated on your gorilla trekking permit and to be clear, make sure than you have your passport at hand on the day of trekking. For this reason, gorilla permits are non-transferable and if you feel that you won’t be able to trek as planned, it is important to communicate with the Park Authorities in advance, after which the set terms and conditions are applied in case of refund or postponement
Partial payment: To avoid stress during gorilla permit bookings, bank wire transfers are recommended and if booking directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority or Rwanda Development Board, bank payment confirmation will be required via email. For booking indirectly via tour operators, credit cards are widely accepted and used.
How much do gorilla trekking permits cost in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo?
Gorilla trekking permits for the Democratic Republic of Congo cost $400 per person and this makes them the cheapest, followed by Uganda where permits go for $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 per person for the foreign residents and Shs. 250,000 for the East African residents. Rwanda gorilla permits are the highest-priced at $1500 per person for all visitors. Regardless of different in prices, each of these countries offers something exceptional thus even the one with costly rates has something that makes it stand out from the rest thus worth booking.