Who is eligible to buy gorilla permits in Uganda?
Who is eligible to buy gorilla permits in Uganda?: Only travelers that are 15 years old and above are eligible to buy gorilla permits in Uganda. According to the Uganda Wildlife Authority which is a government body that issues gorilla permits, only travelers above the age of 15 years can obtain a permit. A gorilla permit is a card or document that enables travelers to encounter mountain gorillas in gorilla national parks which are Bwindi and Mgahinga in the southwestern part of Uganda.
Who is eligible to buy gorilla permits in Uganda?
Gorilla permits are sold to travelers that are 15 years and above because they are the ones that can complete the trekking and also follow the rules and regulations. It can be very hard for children below 15 years of age to complete the trekking exercise because it needs a lot of physical exercises and passing through the trekking trails can be difficult. Children that are below the age of 15 years might not complete the gorilla trekking activity and might as well fail to follow the rules and regulations of the gorilla trekking activity most especially when the gorillas charge.
Uganda has two kinds of gorilla permits which are gorilla trekking permits and then gorilla habituation permits. Gorilla trekking permits are sold to those travelers that are interested in encountering fully habituated mountain gorillas for a period of 1 hour and the gorilla habituation permits are sold to travelers that are interested in habituating mountain gorillas for 4 hours.
How to buy gorilla permits in Uganda
To buy gorilla permits you can use a local tour operator or Uganda Wildlife Authority and get a permit at the same fee. To buy a gorilla permit, you need to first be sure of the dates of the month and year you want to travel. Based on whom you are using to book the gorilla permit, you will contact them via email with the dates of the month and year you want to travel. They will check for the availability of the permits and once they are available, they will send you a bank invoice of how you can send money. After you are done sending the money, you will scan the receipt of payment and send it to the local tour operator or reservations office to confirm that you paid. You will be asked to send your passport details and your permit shall be booked. For those that use Uganda Wildlife Authority to book the gorilla permits, they will pick them at their head offices while those that use local tour operators don’t have to go there.
Cost of gorilla permits in Uganda
Gorilla permits in Uganda come at a fee which includes a ranger guide fee, park entrance fee, time with the mountain gorillas, and community development fee. The money collected from the gorilla permits is used in the conservation of mountain gorillas. For any traveler to encounter mountain gorillas for 1 hour, they must buy gorilla permits which cost $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents, and UGX250,000 for citizens of East Africa. For gorilla habituation, each permit costs $1500 for foreign non-residents, $1000 foreign residents, and ugx750,000 citizens of East Africa.
When to buy gorilla permits?
The time to buy gorilla permits in Uganda depends on the season you are coming to the country. Travelers most of especially those visiting the mountain gorillas in the dry season should book their gorilla permits 3-4 months early in advance to avoid last-minute booking disappointments. During the dry season which is also called the high season, travelers tend to visit the park in large numbers because the season is characterized by little or no rainfall which keeps the trekking trails dry, vegetation is always short with good views of the mountain gorillas and the roads leading to the park are in good condition.
Travelers that are visiting Bwindi and Mgahinga national park in the rainy season of March to May and October to November can book their permits 3-4 months in advance for proper planning but they can still get them a few weeks before the trekking day. Gorilla permits don’t get done in the rainy season because a few travelers most especially the budget ones are the ones always in the park. One of the reasons as to why a few people visit Bwindi and Mgahinga during the rainy season is because of plenty of rainfall that makes the trekking trails muddy and slippery, vegetation is tall with unclear views of the mountain gorillas and the roads leading to the park are in poor conditions.
The gorilla trekking experience
The gorilla trekking experience is one of its kind done in Mgahinga national park and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park in Uganda. Trekking mountain gorillas start early in the morning at the sector offices with park wardens teaching trekkers about the rules and regulations of the gorilla trekking activity as well as allocating gorilla families based on age, and physical fitness.
8 travelers are grouped to trek a single gorilla family and these are led by the armed ranger guides who show the right routes to use as well as protect trekkers from animals that could be wild. Armed ranger guides communicate with the trackers who go into the jungle early to tell them which routes to use to locate the gorilla family early.
The search for mountain gorillas can be 2-7 hours and the time depends on the location of the gorilla family as well as the speed of trekkers. During the search, trekkers do get an opportunity to meet different park mammals, primates, and birds. The moment the mountain gorilla family is located, trekkers are asked to follow the rules and regulations of the gorilla trekking activity and be around the members for 1 hour. This will enable them to learn about gorilla habits, take photos and encounter them do daily activities like hunting, nesting eating, breastfeeding, and much more.
Mountain gorillas in Uganda can be found in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga national park. Mgahinga national park has the least population of mountain gorillas with only 1 fully habituated gorilla family and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park has the highest population of mountain gorillas with over 21 mountain gorilla families.
There are 22 mountain gorilla families in Uganda that are available for trekking and of all these only one is found in Mgahinga national park and the rest in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park has 19 gorilla families for trekking in Rushaga sector, Ruhija sector, Buhoma sector, and Nkuringo sector. The same national park has 2 mountain gorilla families open for habituation in Nkuringo sector and Rushaga sector both on the southern side of the park. Travelers that are above the age of 15 years old are the ones that can book gorilla permits and encounter these mountain gorillas.