Uganda is home to the largest population of mountain gorillas. This endangered primate lives between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Ecotourism is one way in which these animals are protected. Revenue from gorilla trekking trips helps fund national parks and provides a financial incentive for locals to safeguard gorillas. Every guest must have a permit to visit the mountain gorillas. Here, we explain everything you need to know about the gorilla permit in Uganda.
What is a gorilla permit?
If you want to see gorillas in the wild, you’ll need a permit. This allows countries to control the amount of people visiting gorilla groups. It also allows national parks to raise the money necessary to protect these endangered primates. The permits grant access to one trek and one hour with the gorillas. The length of the trek may vary, depending on where the gorillas are on any given day.
In Uganda, this applies to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which has 19 habituated gorilla groups, two of which are only visited as part of habituation treks. It also applies to Mgahinga National Park, which has one habituated group.
What is a habituation permit?
Habituation permits allow tourists to take part in the habitation process. This involves gradually encouraging wild gorillas to feel comfortable in the presence of humans, which is essential for tourism. The permits are more expensive, because guests spend four hours with the gorillas rather than just one.
How much does a gorilla permit cost?
The cost of a single gorilla permit in Uganda is around US$600−700 per person. However, gorilla permits do vary in price according to the country. Permits in Rwanda are the most expensive at US$1,500 and DRC has the cheapest permits at US$400.
A gorilla habituation experience permit in Uganda costs US$1,500 per person.
How do I get a gorilla permit?
Gorilla permits in Uganda are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), a government body that manages tourism and wildlife conservation. It is possible to book the permits directly from UWA, but the most convenient way is to use a reliable tour operator. Most tour operators include a gorilla permit as part of the overall cost of a gorilla safari. Book at least six months ahead of travel to ensure availability.
How many gorilla permits are available in Uganda?
There are currently around 152 permits available per day. These are split between the habituated gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park.
What does the gorilla permit in Uganda cover?
Note that a permit only grants access for a trek and one hour with the gorillas. It does not include any other costs, such as accommodation, guides, trackers, meals, etc.
Can you cancel a permit?
If you have only paid a deposit, you will not receive any refund on cancellation.
If you have paid your permit in full, the following cancellation rules apply:
If, however, you cannot trek due to illness (established on site), 50% of the permit fee may be refunded. This is to encourage people to be more honest about feeling unwell (even a common cold can be fatal for gorillas) and prevent the gorillas becoming sick.
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