Gorilla Permit Information in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo

A gorilla permit is a key document for gorilla safari bookings in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. YES, also known as a gorilla pass, the permit is a password to see the endangered gorillas. It’s the first thing one must reserve before confirming any gorilla tour to Africa. In other words, no gorilla permits no gorilla trekking. Checking and confirming the availability of a gorilla permit is one thing that every visitor planning a gorilla safari should consider.

During the pre gorilla trekking briefing, visitors are asked to show their permits. Therefore, basic knowledge on gorilla permits in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo is essential. Karibu East Africa brings all the detailed gorilla permit information you require for a successful gorilla safari in Africa. These include:

Cost of Gorilla Permits

First understand the cost of gorilla permits in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo before booking. Each country charges a different cost for a gorilla permit.  A single gorilla permit in Rwanda costs $1500 paid by all visitors including Rwanda nationals. Apparently, between June to 31st December 2020, Rwanda Development Board is offering discounted gorilla permits at $200 for Rwanda nationals and East African Citizens and $500 for foreign residents.

This cost will go back to the normal $1500 effective January 2021.  Rwanda, therefore, offers luxury gorilla safaris in Africa.  On the other hand, Uganda gorilla permits cost $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents, and UGX 250,000 for Ugandans and East African citizens. In Congo, a single gorilla permit costs $400 for residents and $450 for foreigners. Congo is therefore a suitable gorilla safari destination for budget visitors.  After knowing the different costs of gorilla permits in each country, a visitor will choose where he/she wants to go to see these endangered species. If you are doing a gorilla habituation experience in Uganda, each permit costs $1500.

When to book a gorilla permit

Mountain gorilla permit booking in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo is recommended as early as 6 months before the trekking date. The high demand for gorilla permits is one of the reasons for early bookings. Upon booking, visitors are asked to pay a 30% deposit fee. After paying the deposit, the respective conservation body (UWA or RDB) removes the permit from the list of available permits on a specific date. Visitors are required to pay the full amount 90 days to the trekking date. Failure to pay for a permit to Zero balance in time will lead to loss of a permit and the deposit fee which is non-refundable.

 What is included and excluded in the gorilla permit price?

Gorilla permit costs include park entrance fee, conservation fee, government taxes, and the ranger’s fee among others. Once a visitor buys a gorilla permit, he or she will not be asked to pay more money after arriving at the gorilla park. On the other hand, gorilla permit cost (US$1500 in Rwanda, US$700 in Uganda, and US$450 in Congo) excludes porter’s fee, tips, driver-guide fee, and extra activities apart from gorilla trekking.

Gorilla permit availability

The availability of gorilla permits depends on the number of habituated gorilla families in each country.  Uganda has 18 habituated gorilla families hence 136-gorilla permits available every day. Rwanda has 10 habituated gorilla families hence 80 gorilla permits issued each day while The Democratic Republic of Congo has 8 habituated gorilla families hence 64 gorilla permits available every day.

Each gorilla family is visited by a group of eight people per day meaning 8 gorilla permits per gorilla family. Altogether, there are roughly 280-gorilla permits available every day in the whole of Africa. More so, 8  gorilla habituation permits are available every day in the Rushaga sector south of Bwindi impenetrable Forest National Park.  Gorilla permit issuing is based on a first come first serve basis. The availability of many gorilla permits in Uganda gives many visitors a chance to meet and trek these endangered species. 

Is a visitor the owner of the gorilla permit?

No, a gorilla permit is a property of the respective government, Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Even after paying for it, a gorilla permit remains the property of the government. In other words, a visitor can never own a gorilla permit. At the start of the trekking day, visitors are asked to submit all permits to the park officials. No visitor is allowed to hike into the jungle with a permit. Gorilla permits are reusable and keep rotating within the system. A visitor only owns a receipt, which comes with a permit.

For how long is a gorilla permit valid?

A mountain gorilla permit is only valid for an hour with the endangered gorillas. It allows a visitor to spend an hour in the presence of the gorillas. After an hour, visitors hike back and the permit is no longer valid. In gorilla habituation experience, the permit is valid for four hours, which a visitor spends with the wild gorillas.

Who issues the Gorilla permit?

Respective government conservation bodies in each country issue mountain gorilla permits. These bodies are the Uganda Wildlife Authority in Uganda, Rwanda Development Board in Rwanda, and the ICCN in the Democratic Republic of Congo. You can contact these bodies direct at their head offices or book through local travel agents and tour operators. Online booking and checking the availability of gorilla permits in Uganda and Rwanda are also available. 

Can I change the already booked trekking date?

YES, gorilla permit rescheduling is allowed in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In case of any need, a visitor is allowed to change the previous trekking date. However, date changing is done at a small cost and subject to availability of the permits on the new dates. Also, visitors are reminded that gorilla permit rescheduling is possible when you have many days to the trekking date. Rescheduling a few days to the trekking date may not be possible.

Conclusively, therefore, gorilla permit information is all you need for a successful gorilla safari in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. Contact us for more advice and information on mountain gorilla permits.