HOW MUCH IS A GORILLA PERMIT?
A gorilla permit is a document/card that is obtained from Uganda Wildlife Authority for the case of Uganda and Rwanda Development Board in the case of Rwanda to allow you spend one hour with the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Volcanoes National Park respectively. Currently Rwanda gorilla permit costs USD1500.00 for Non residents. Uganda gorilla permits to visit mountain gorillas in Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga cost USD700.00 (Non residents) USD500.00 for Foreign Residents.
The once in a lifetime experience of gorilla trekking in East Africa is made possible with a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda and Rwanda that hosts the four national parks where the gorillas can be found. These are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In order to see these primates, a gorilla permit is required.
As soon as you decide on your travel dates, ensure you begin the process of booking for a permit which will give you access to the park. Permits need to be booked five months in advance especially if you intend to travel during the peak seasons of June, July and August. You can book the permit on your own in some countries but the most convenient method is to use a reliable tour operator. Most tour operators include a gorilla permit as part of the overall cost of a gorilla safari. For each of the three countries mentioned, the gorilla permits cost different fees.
Cost of Gorilla Permits in Uganda
Uganda boasts of 17 habituated gorilla groups found in Bwindi Impenetrable forest and Mgahinga Gorilla park. Bwindi bears the largest group – 16 gorilla families while Mgahinga has only one large gorilla family. The cost of a gorilla permit in Uganda is $700.
Price of Gorilla Permits in Rwanda
Rwanda has the second largest number of mountain gorillas after Uganda. It boasts of 10 habituated gorilla groups which are found at the volcanoes national park. Gorilla permit costs $1500 obtainable from the Rwanda Tourism Board offices in Kigali or Ruhengeri which is near the park. Your tour operator can also help you get the permits especially if you are using them to organize all aspects of your tour. The fees paid give you one hour of access to a particular gorilla group and doesn’t include accommodation, ground transport or meals. A 1 day safari in Rwanda costs around $1800.
Like Uganda, visitors to Rwanda who intend to engage in gorilla trekking are advised to book their gorilla permits online or through their preferred tour operators 6 months in advance to avoid last minute inconveniences. Each permit gives you access to one gorilla family and only 8 visitors are allowed to view each gorilla family per day. This limits the number of gorilla permits to 100 per day. Rwanda has the highest gorilla tracking fee which has caused many tourists to make Uganda and DRC their preferred destinations for gorilla tracking although the Rwanda authorities explained that the fees, previously at $750 were increased to boost community development of the people around the park.
Gorilla Permit cancellation penalties and policy in Uganda
It is preferable that each person who books a gorilla tracking permit should be able to utilize it. However, where circumstances do not permit you to travel, the Uganda Wildlife Authority will not refund you any money, and the booking would be canceled from 0 to 8 days, to the day of tracking. If the cancellation is between four to forty-five days before the activity, a 25% refund will be given.
Should cancellation happen 46 to 90 days before gorilla trekking, a 50% will be made. If cancellation takes place 91 days beforehand, you receive a refund of 75%. The refunds only apply to those who paid the whole amount for the gorilla permit. If you had only made a deposit, you are not liable for any refund. In extremely rare cases where one fails to identify any gorilla, a complaint should be lodged with the UWA reservation office and a 75% refund will be implemented.