Uganda features amongst the only 3 countries in the world where mountain gorilla tracking is conducted. For gorilla trekking in Uganda, there are only two protected areas where visitors can realize their dreams. And they include Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. These spectacular protected areas lie within the southwestern part of the country and they offer refuge to half of the rare mountain gorillas that thrive in the world. When it comes to gorilla trekking in Uganda, permits are a must to have for any visitor who wishes to catch a glimpse of these dramatic creatures while they are in their natural habitat. In order for one to obtain a gorilla tracking permit in Uganda, certain procedures need to be followed. Gorilla trekking permits for visitors on safari in Uganda can be obtained directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) at the headquarters in Kampala or through a local tour operator/agent. Permits in Uganda are obtainable at $600 per person.
Obtaining gorilla permits directly through Uganda Wildlife Authority
In order to obtain a gorilla permit in Uganda, first and foremost you have to contact Uganda Wildlife Authority’s reservation office by emailing them to inquire more about the availability of dates you prefer to go for mountain gorilla tracking. This is mostly used by travelers on self-drive tours and Africa overlanders (driving a car through Africa). Considering that Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park are accessible for about 8 to 10 hours while driving in a strong 4×4 car, highly recommended.
In case the dates you intend to track gorillas are fully booked, visitors are encouraged to request Uganda Wildlife Authority to inform you about the next dates possible. Such a visitor is required to reply to them expressing your interest to reserve permits and requesting them to temporally hold the permits as you make payment. The payment will be done based on the banking details that will be given to you such that you can continue to make an electronic transfer of money. You are then required to send a copy of the receipt by email/fax showing the transaction carried out by you.
The money transaction may take about 3-5 working days and UWA will keep a tentative reservation for about seven days as they wait for the transfer to accomplish. You are reminded to instruct your bank to remove bank charges from you to avoid less payment that may not allow you to book a permit.
Other guests just walk direct to Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters in Kampala and pay for their permits direct to the UWA office, have their permits printed, and proceed with their trip to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga National park. However, this is quite risky because the demand for gorilla permits is high throughout the year. Therefore, to avoid disappointment and last-minute rash, you are advised to book in advance.
Through a tour operator
80 percent of the gorilla trekking permits are given to Uganda tour operators that are registered with the Uganda Association of Tour Operators (AUTO). The procedure of booking a gorilla permit is the same but the only difference is that booking through the local operator or agent, things tend to be faster and more convenient compared to booking directly through Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Booking through the local agent requires you to contact a local tour operator in Uganda to let them know the dates you would like to travel for this lifetime adventure, whether on an escorted or self-drive tours. If you are on a self-drive tour, your car rental agency will book for you permits at a small surcharge, and others do not charge extra fees for gorilla permit bookings. You receive the permits together with the rental car.
They will make sure that you get to know the availability of dates and the tentative booking can be done for you.
The process takes about 48 hours from the tour company to receive the information from the bank and they will pay for the permit as you sit back to wait only for your preferred date.
You will be required to send your passport details to register your gorilla permits. They will need your names, passport number, and nationality and these details will be recorded in the gorilla permit that you will present to the park official upon arrival check-in as you join the rest of the members for the early morning briefing.
Given the competitive demand gorilla trekking permits for Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park, intending trekkers are encouraged to book their permits in advance at least 3 months earlier so as to avoid any disappointments.
A gorilla trekking permit is an important tool any intending trekker should have while on Uganda tour to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda. To obtain one gives you about 98 percent chances of tracking a group of these Great apes but doesn’t guarantee a 100% chance for you to see gorillas. You can obtain a permit through UWA or one of the tour agents in the country and you will have a chance to achieve your long term dreams in the wild.