How to Book & Pay for a Gorilla Permit
One of the most mesmerizing wildlife experiences on Earth is witnessing the majestic mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. However, to ensure the protection of these endangered animals and to manage the number of tourists, it is essential to book a gorilla permit well in advance. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to go about it.
1. Determine Your Destination
There are three primary places you can embark on this adventure:
- Bwindi and Mgahinga Park in Uganda.
- Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
- Virunga National Park in DR Congo.
Each destination provides a unique experience, so decide based on your preference.
2. Permit Fees
The gorilla permit fees are as follows:
- Uganda: $700 for international tourists.
- Rwanda: $1,500 for international tourists.
- DR Congo: $400 for international tourists.
3. Book in Advance
Especially during the peak seasons of December to February and June to September, gorilla permits can sell out quickly. To avoid disappointment, book your permit 2-3 months in advance. It’s always wise to first check for permit availability for the specific dates you’re considering.
4. Booking Platforms
There are primarily two ways to book:
- Registered Tour Operators: Many tour operators offer packages that include not just the permit but also accommodations, transport, and other activities.
- Direct Reservations with Park Authorities: This can be done through the Uganda Wildlife Authority for Bwindi and Mgahinga Park, the Rwanda Development Board for Volcanoes National Park, and the official website of Virunga National Park for DR Congo.
5. Payment Process
Once you’ve determined that permits are available for your dates:
- The tour operator or park authority will send you account details and an invoice.
- Once you’ve made the payment, a scanned copy of the gorilla permit will be sent to you. This permit assures you of an up-close and personal experience with the gorillas.
It’s worth noting that if you’re booking through a tour operator, they will usually not charge extra for processing the permit.
6. Passport Details
Tourists are required to scan and email copies of their passport details. This is crucial for registration with the chosen park. If you’re working with a tour operator, they can handle this administrative task on your behalf.
7. Remember Accommodation & Tracking Centers
If you’re heading to Uganda, particularly Bwindi, remember that the forest has four primary gorilla tracking centers: Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. Ensure your permit and accommodation align with the same region to streamline your experience.
Witnessing the mountain gorillas in their natural setting is an experience of a lifetime. However, due to the limited number of permits issued daily, planning and booking in advance is crucial. By following this guide, you’re one step closer to your unforgettable gorilla trekking adventure