Uganda offers a total of 152 gorilla permits available for purchase each day. The cost for a single gorilla permit is USD 700 per person per trek. Uganda is home to almost half of the world’s total population of endangered Mountain Gorillas, with prime gorilla trekking destinations located in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. These two national parks are located in the extreme southwestern corner of Uganda, forming a large conservation area known as the Bwindi-Mgahinga conservation area.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the largest of the two parks with a total area of about 331 square kilometers, divided into four major gorilla trekking regions: Buhoma sector in the north, Ruhija sector in the east, Rushaga and Nkuringo in the south. Each sector presents a variety of vibrant gorilla families, which are well habituated and available for tracking every day. Gorilla permits can be booked by region, and Trek Africa Expeditions can advise on which region to book, depending on the preference of the client. This will also determine the lodge or overnight accommodation to book as well as an airstrip for those who prefer flying safaris.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, one of the three national parks that form the Virunga Conservation Area, is the smallest park in Uganda. The other two parks in the area are Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite its small size, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a vital habitat for one habituated Gorilla family, known as Nyakagezi. This family consists of 10 members and is available for daily trekking.
Gorilla trekking is a highly restricted activity with limited visits to only eight individuals per Gorilla family each day. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park’s small size means that it has only one habituated family available for tracking, making it a unique and intimate experience. The park is located in southwestern Uganda and offers breathtaking views of the Virunga Mountains. With its rich biodiversity, the park offers various other activities, including bird watching, nature walks, and cultural encounters with the local Batwa community.
To go gorilla trekking in Uganda, it is necessary to obtain a gorilla tracking permit, which is issued on a first come first serve basis. The Uganda Wildlife Authority, a government body responsible for conservation and preservation of all protected areas in Uganda, is the only authorized entity to issue gorilla tracking permits in Uganda. However, Trek Africa Expeditions can also help clients book gorilla tracking permits on their behalf.
Each gorilla permit is valid for a day of gorilla tracking, which typically lasts between 1-9 hours, depending on the amount of time taken to locate the allocated gorilla family. A gorilla permit allows visitors to access only one gorilla family, and spend up to 1 hour observing and photographing the gorillas.
Due to the high demand for gorilla permits in Uganda, advance booking is crucial, particularly during the high season months of June to October and December to February. This is because only 8 permits are issued per gorilla family per day, so the number of permits available per day is limited. Therefore, it is advisable to book permits well in advance to avoid missing out on the chance to track gorillas in Uganda.
In Uganda, gorilla trekking is one of the most popular tourist activities, and a gorilla permit is a requirement for accessing any gorilla family. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is responsible for issuing gorilla permits to travelers on a first-come, first-served basis.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, located in the southwest corner of the country, is home to almost half of the world’s total population of endangered mountain gorillas. With over 400 mountain gorillas, it has the largest number of gorillas of any destination in the world. The national park is divided into four major gorilla tracking regions, with a total of 19 habituated gorilla families that can be visited on a daily basis. This means that 144 gorilla permits are available per day, distributed throughout the four gorilla sectors.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, located in the southwest part of Uganda, is the smallest national park in the country and part of the Virunga Conservation Area. The park is home to only one habituated gorilla family, known as Nyakagezi, which is made up of 10 members and is open for tracking daily. Due to its small size, only eight gorilla permits are available for sale every day, which makes a total of 152 gorilla permits available in Uganda daily. Advance booking is crucial, especially in high season months of June to October and December to February, as gorilla permits are highly demanded.
Uganda charges USD700 per person per trek for a Gorilla permit, which is considerably less than Rwanda’s USD1500 per person per trek. Despite the lower price, Uganda offers an extremely safe and unforgettable Gorilla trekking experience, making it one of the best Gorilla tracking destinations.
Uganda is a prime destination for travelers who are seeking a thrilling adventure with the world’s most endangered apes. Besides Gorilla trekking, Uganda offers a unique experience known as the Gorilla habituation program. This program is located in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and is an ideal opportunity for travelers who want a firsthand encounter with Mountain Gorillas.
Compared to Gorilla trekking, which allows only one hour with a Gorilla family, the habituation experience provides up to four hours to spend with the semi-habituated Gorilla family. The four hours of observation starts once fresh trails of the Gorilla family are discovered from where they nested the previous night.
To ensure the Gorillas’ safety, the habituation experience is limited to four participants per day. The low number of visitors is intended to minimize human disturbance to the Gorilla habitat, thereby preserving the natural environment.
To participate in the Gorilla habituation experience, one needs to obtain a permit, which costs USD 1500 per trek. The permit is valid for a maximum of 4 hours after encountering the Gorillas. Interested travelers can obtain permits in person at the Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters in Kampala or through a reputable local tour operator like Trek Africa Expeditions. These authorized channels ensure that the program is properly regulated, and the limited number of participants are well-guided throughout their experience, ensuring that it is as safe and memorable as possible.
During the habituation process, trekkers accompany a team of researchers, trackers, and park rangers into the forest. The group approaches an unsuspecting family of Gorillas, who are still getting used to human presence. Visitors can then spend up to four hours observing the Gorilla family’s behavior, feeding habits, playful interactions, and learning about their lifestyle and composition. Overall, the Gorilla habituation experience is an unforgettable adventure that offers a unique opportunity to learn more about these incredible animals.
If you have already booked your Gorilla tracking permits in Uganda, but something has come up and you need to reschedule, don’t worry. It is possible to change the date or the sector of your Gorilla permit, subject to availability.
To reschedule your Gorilla permit, contact the Uganda Wildlife Authority or your tour operator as soon as possible. You can request to change the date of your permit to any future available date, or to a different Gorilla sector. However, if your request is made within 7 days of the start of your trip, you will be required to pay a surcharge of 30% of the total permit cost.
It is important to note that changing your Gorilla permit details is subject to availability. Therefore, it is recommended to make any changes as early as possible to avoid disappointment. Keep in mind that the popularity of Gorilla tracking means that permits can sell out quickly, especially during the peak season. So, if you know you need to reschedule, act fast and contact the Uganda Wildlife Authority or your tour operator to secure your new date or sector.