Gorilla trekking permits need to be purchased in advance, as much as six months in advance if you’re travelling during peak season or if you are in a large group. The earlier you book, the more choice you have on where you trek and where you stay. Last minute bookings may be possible during low season or where there are just one or two people trekking, but availability of gorilla trekking permits is not guaranteed.
The busy peak seasons are June through to October and Christmas and the New Year.
Each gorilla family can only be visited one hour per day. In Uganda, there are off-peak discounts in April, May and November so these are both booking in advance. There is a minimum age requirement of 15 years to trek the gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda
However, the advantages of booking with a tour operator or Safari company is that they have intimate local knowledge of the accommodation options and proximity of gorilla families. They know these remote areas well and their drivers are experts at negotiating slippery, steep dirt roads. If you plan to extend your trip, and most people do, the company can also give great travel recommendations and make all the activity and accommodation bookings for you.
To book your gorilla trekking permit, you will need to provide:
- The date(s) you would like to trek the gorillas. Suggest a few dates in case your first choice of date is already booked up. Ideally, scan and email a copy of your passport to whoever is organising your permits.
- Your name, nationality and passport number. Gorilla trekking permits are non-transferable. (Note that you will need to show your passport or some other form of identification at the pre-trekking briefing).
- Payment. The best way to pay is by bank wire transfer. Remember to instruct your bank to deduct any transaction charges from your account.
- If you are buying gorilla trekking permits directly from UWA or RDB, you will need to send them the bank payment confirmation email.
- If you are buying gorilla trekking permits from a tour operator, note that not all tour operators in East Africa accept credit cards. Of those that do, many add a hefty surcharge (of between 3% and 9%). Once the tour company have your preferred dates and personal details, they can make a temporary reservation with the authority.
- Confirmation of your reservation. You should receive a scanned copy of your gorilla trekking permit within a few days or weeks. When you arrive in country, your tour driver guide will give you your original permit or you will collect it from the UWA / RTB office (if you are travelling independently).
Your gorilla trekking permit will have a unique serial number and your personal details written on it. It is non-transferable.
Remember that you will need to show your passport or some other form of identification at the pre-trekking briefing.
Tips on purchasing a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda
To reserve gorilla trekking permits in Uganda, you will need to specify which gorilla family you would like to visit. Reservations staff can guide you on which family to trek, if you advise of your fitness level and accommodation preferences (for example). The gorilla families are spread over a wide geographic area, so it is important that you book accommodation that is within an hour’s drive – or a few minutes’ walk.
To purchase gorilla trekking permits visit the Uganda Wildlife Authority office, Kira Road, Kampala or call Dixon on +256 776 912807 email email@example.com
Tips on purchasing a gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda
You do not have to specify a particular gorilla family when you purchase your gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda. You will be allocated the family to trek, on the day of your actual gorilla trek, according to your fitness level.
Rwanda gorilla trekking permits can be made through a local tour operator or the RDB Tourism and Conservation Reservation Office by telephoning +250 252 576 514 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For gorilla trekking stories and Uganda and Rwanda travel advice, click on the hyperlinks in the Ultimate Guide to Mountain Gorilla Trekking. Still got a question? Contact the Muzungu.