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Gorilla Trekking Information

 Gorilla Permit Price in Uganda

Gorilla permits for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park costs USD500.00 per person per trek and USD350.00 for discounted rates as announced by Uganda Wildlife Authority for the months of April and May. There are chances that Uganda Wildlife Authority will announce discounted rates for gorilla permits in November so please do contact us for updates about this. UWA always reviews its prices and tariffs in June every year. This could be due to the fact that Rwanda increased their gorilla permit price last year from $500 to $750 and Uganda might want to follow suit. Our offices are always open to advise you on the price of gorilla permits.

Gorilla Permit Booking Procedure

You require a gorilla permit to trek Uganda gorillas found in two National Parks of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park all found in south western Uganda. Gorilla permits can be obtained from Uganda Wildlife Authority Head Offices in Kampala just after Uganda Museum on Kiira Road. Every day, UWA sells gorilla permits for all gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga. Offices are always open from 9:00am to 5:00pm in the evening. Please contact us for your gorilla permit which we can pre purchase for you at no extra cost once you book a gorilla safari with us. Please contact us and we will check availability of gorilla permits at UWA for you and go ahead to buy once you have transferred money on our account. You will need to send us your details in terms of names, passport number, and nationality as Uganda Wildlife Authority requires them in order to issue your gorilla permit.

When should I book my Gorilla Permit? 

You need to contact us to advise you on when to book your gorilla permit. It is agreed that for peak and high seasons, you need to book your gorilla permit at least 5 months in advance while in low seasons, you can even book it there and then. High seasons in Uganda are June, July, August, September and early November and then December, January and February. Gorilla permits tend to be very scarce and if you intend to trek gorillas during this month, you need to book them way back in advance. Please do contact us for your gorilla permit booking and we will secure it for you at no extra cost once you book a gorilla tour with us.

Can I book a gorilla permit myself?

Yes you can book your gorilla permit as long as you call Uganda Wildlife Authority offices. They will provide you with a form which you need to fill and then transfer funds to their account. Once they receive the money, they will then book your permit. On arrival in Uganda, you have to go to their office in person with all your identifications to pick your gorilla permit. The only challenge with this method is that you might call and call and call and nobody picks due to the traffic caused by those calling reservation but please keep trying and someone will pick your phone.

How many gorilla families are in Bwindi?

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has about 12 gorilla families which are located in the Northern part and southern part of this tropical rain forest. The northern part of Buhoma and Ruhija has Mubare, Rushegura, Habinyanja, Bitukura, Oruzogo and Kyaguriro which is for research. The southern sector has Kahungye, Nshongi, Mishaya, Businye, Bweza and Nkuringo. Mgahinga National Park has one gorilla family called Nyakagezi but this group keeps on migrating to Rwanda and if you are interested in this gorilla family, permits are sold on ground and you need to contact us for availability. We can advise you on the best gorilla family to trek once you tell us your interest.

Long Term Advance Booking Allocations

Uganda Wildlife Authority allows advanced booking of up to two years as long as a deposit of 30% is made and the balance shall be paid 91 days to the tracking date. Late top up of 70% is not permitted but may be considered 7 days, and will attract a Surcharge of 20% beyond which deposit is forfeited without refund. 80% of all the gorilla permits in each month can be booked for two years in advance by the Association of Uganda Tour Operations (AUTO) members only. Foreign tour operators will book through local tour operators. Each tour operator (AUTO) shall book up to only 20 permits for that particular month on the day the booking opens, which is the first working day (Monday to Friday) of the month.

Short time booking (three months in advance)

Individual trackers can buy from Uganda Wildlife Authority not more than 2 permits for the month. There is no guarantee, which dates or how many per day will be available. Booking can be done on the day the booking opens, which is the first working day of the month.

Permit Limits

Gorilla Permits not sold on the day the booking opens will be open for sale the following day with no limits on the number each tour operator would buy.

Refunds/Cancellation Guidelines

50% tracking fee shall be refunded by UWA, if the visitor fails to track due to illness, this will be at recommendation of the Warden in Charge and this clause only applies to visitors who have already tracked BINP or MGNP.

Visitors who fail to track the gorillas (MGNP) as a result of their movement to the neighbouring country shall receive a full refund on their permits. However, those who would have tracked the whole day and failed to view the gorillas for one reason or another will be refunded 75% of the tracking fee. All refunds shall be affected through the Reservation Office at UWA Headquarters in Kampala.

UWA will retain the following percentages upon cancellations;

0 – 8 days to tracking date – no refund

9 – 45 days to tracking date – 75% (25% refund to client)

46-90 days to tracking date – 50%

91 days and above to tracking date – 25% (75% refund to client)

Any refund to be made on the 30% deposit shall be at the value of the permit.
Permits must be sold at face value, whoever sells at higher value will be penalized.
Primary sale of permits by individuals or tour companies anywhere is illegal. All permits MUST be sold by Uganda Wildlife Authority only.

Payment for gorilla permits must be made directly to Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Reschedules of Permit Reservations

Reschedules of Permit reservations are not permitted, except if it is more than 91 days to tracking date and is within (7) seven days of rescheduled date.This will attract a reschedule fee of 20%. Any other charges of the date will be considered as a cancellation and a re-booking. A cancellation policy will therefore apply and re-booking a new date at the full cost of a permit.

Payment Terms:

The acceptable payment methods are: Cash (Uganda Shillings, US dollars, GB Pounds, Euros), Note: 1. US$ notes below $100 should be 1990 & above 2. Us$100 notes should be 1997 & above Bank Transfers (net of the bank charges) Traveller’s Cheques (Present receipt of purchase at point of sale & 1% charge)

Time Limit

The tracking time is limited from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All visitors are expected back at the campground by 7:00 p.m.

Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations

 Before leaving for Gorilla trekking

In Uganda a maximum of 8 tourists may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This is done to ensure minimal behavioural disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.

  1. Make sure that you wash your hands before your tracking exercise

On the way to the gorillas:

  1. Keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
  2. DO NOT litter rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
  3. You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way!
  4.  The guides will inform you to get ready when you approach the mountain gorillas,

When you are with the gorillas:

  1. A 7 meter (21 feet) distance should be observed at all times from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
  2. You must stay in tight group when you are near the gorillas.
  3. Keep your voices low at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
  4. Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. Probably eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.
  5. Sometimes the gorillas change. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
  6. Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
  7. Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
  8. The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
  9. After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.

General health rules: Remember that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following rules are ways to minimize the risk your visit might poses to them:

  1. Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed to visit the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
  2. If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
  3. If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
  4. Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
  5. Do not litter rubbish (e.g. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbour diseases or other contaminants.
  6. If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are finished.

What to bring on your Gorilla Safari: -Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes. -Put on ear plugs for those who feel uncomfortable with the jungle sounds. -Carry a packed food and enough drinking water. – Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent. – Bring a photo of film camera. Using flashlight is not permitted so we recommend using films of 400-800 ASA.  

Wild Gorilla Necessities

Hiking boots

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park needs hiking therefore tourists need to have some light boots to enable them pass through the forest.

Garden Gloves

As you hike in the forest looking out for the gorillas you will need to hold on the plants, soil and the gloves will protect you from the germs.

Rain Jacket

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a tropical rain forest and therefore it rains some times, tourists carry jackets in case it may rain.

Long sleeved shirts/Brouse

Tourists are advised to put on long sleeves because there are always thorns in the forest and insects therefore the sleeves can save you.

Energy giving snacks

Since gorilla tracking takes 2 to 8 hours tourists needs to carry snacks and a lot of water so that they may get energy to track the gorillas.

Cameras and Extra Batteries

You need the cameras because you will take photos of these gorillas together with other primates. However zoom lens which do not scare away gorillas.

Hat and Sun glasses

You will carry these because sometimes the forest is too hot and tourists may need them

Pair of Binoculars

These will help you have clear views of the forest, wildlife attractions and also animals like the buffaloes, lions, leopards and so many others.

Walking sticks

These can be hired at the park and can help you walk through the forest.

Potters for your trek

The potters are just students that may be chased for school fees or they are vacists and if used you help support their studies. These help push you through the forest since some people get hardships and they also carry yours.

Gorilla Trekking Families in Uganda

Gorillas can be tracked in only four regions of interest in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Each sector or region has its gorilla group as explained below

Buhoma sector

Buhoma found at the northwestern part of the Park facing the dark- hilly forests of the Park. This region contains three Gorilla groups.

Mubare Gorilla Family.

Gorilla tracking at Buhoma region enables you to meet the first and oldest group of Gorillas to be habituated in 1998. There were 12 family members in the group with a dominant silverback called Ruhondeza and later added up to 18 members but due to different circumstances like death, moving into new groups, the group lost many of its family members thus remaining with only 5 members however other 4 members joint them and making it adorable to track is gorillas. The sector is now a priority to many tourists and tour operators.

The Habinyanja Family.

Gorilla safaris at Buhoma also gives tourists the chance to track the Habinyanja gorilla family. This group was habituated in 1997 and in 1999 it was the first group to be visited by tourists. The name Habinyanja means body of water from the word Nyanja. It was referring to a swamp in the park were this group was first sighted. The group comprises of 18 members with 2 silverbacks. This is because other members divided from the group and formed Rushegura group. However this two groups cross cover each other and now the stay together and peacefully. The cause of their division was the commotion and fighting among the members for power.

Rushegura Group.

Gorilla tracking tours at Buhoma enriches tourists experience while tracking the Rushegura group of gorillas. This gorilla group was habituated in 2000 and later opened in 2002 for tourism. The group is a section from the Habinyanja group who divided because of conflict within the group. It comprise of 19 members including 1 silverback. This gorilla group is very active within Buhoma and covers a broad territory and sometime crossing to the local village of Batwa. Sometimes they move to UWA park-office, Bwindi waterfall and even Buhoma camp.

Nkuringo sector

Nkurigo sector is found on the southern side of the park and became the park’s second tracking trailhead in 2004. There is only one gorilla family in this section. The word Nkrungo means ‘’round hill” in Rukiga language. This is the hill were this gorilla group was first sighted.

Nkuringo Family.

Gorilla trekking safaris to Nkuringo sector makes tourists to encounter with this adventures gorillas. The gorilla family has 19 members with 2 silverbacks. These gorillas are habituated because they cross to the local communities’ gardens and thus feeding on their crops like sweet potatoes, and bananas. Opening up this gorilla family was seen as a way of protecting them from local communities since they will benefit directly from them.

Rushaga sector

This section is found in southeast of the park. It was opened for gorilla tracking safaris in 2009. And the sector has three family groups which can be tracked form this point. The Shongi trailhead descends in to the depths of the forests. The gorillas in this group includes.

Mishaya Gorilla Family.

Gorilla tracking safaris offers tourists the choice to visit Rushaga and track Mishaya Gorilla group. This group came about when silverback Mishaya broke away from Nshongi gorilla family with about 8 members in 2010. The group split up due to quarrel and disagreement among the family members. Like in any relationships, they gorillas fight for power and women and Silverback Mishaya is known as a strong fighter since he is the only male with female in his group.

Nshongi Gorilla Family.

Gorilla trekking safaris gives tourists the opportunity to track the Nshongi gorilla family. Nshongi was the introduced in 2009 and was the largest group to have habituated about 36 members with 4 silverbacks. This gorilla group was very strange in a way that the silverback heading them was not yet old and the three silverbacks lived in unity without any attempt to grab leadership. In July 2010, the group divided and were only 26 members remaining forming the present Mishaya gorilla group. The family divided again in 2013 and was reduced to 18members forming the Bweza family consisting of 10 individuals.

Kahungye Gorilla Family.

Uganda safaris provide tourists with the chance to visit the Kahunge gorilla family that was habituated in 2011. This gorilla family had some misunderstandings and managed to split up giving a new group called Busingye meaning peace.

Busingye Gorilla Family.

Gorilla tracking in Uganda is an opportunity to track down the Busingye gorilla family who split from the Kahungye family. This gorilla family consists of 9 members including 1 silverback. Silverback Busingye surprising decided to split the group in June 2012 and created his own family. Silverback Busingye likes showing off his power and fights to grab female to add to his group.

Bweza Gorilla Family.

Uganda safari offer tourists the opportunity to track the Bweza gorilla family who consist of 9 members including 1 silverback. The Bweza gorilla family broke up from the Mishaya group who had broken form Nshongi family the largest group ever habituated in Bwindi National Park. The Bweza group was opened for tracking in 2012

Ruhija sector

This section is found on the eastern side on top of a hill at 2,345m. This sector is Uganda’s highest tracking trail and one of the only two areas in the park were elephants reside. This sector has the following gorilla families.

Bitukura Gorilla Family.

Gorilla tracking safaris to Ruhija sector offers surprises to tourists engage in tracking the Bitukura gorilla family. This family comprises of 14 members including 4 silverback. Bitukura gorilla family named after a river where the gorilla family was sighted is was habituated in 2007 and opened for tourism in 2008. The family was originally having 24 members but has been reduced to only 14 members due to conflict, fighting in the group which made some members to leave the group and thus were welcomed by other gorilla families. This gorilla family share close bond and often have get- together and looks happily due to arrival of their new member.

Oruzogo Gorilla Family.

Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda is advantageous has it offers tourists the chance to track the Oruzogo gorilla family having 23 members including 1 silverbacks called Tibiritwata. The gorilla family was opened for visitors’ access in 2011. This is one of the preferred Gorilla groups by tourists because of their playful and energetic adolescents. The only factor which can limit tourists from tracking in this sector is the limited lodging especially budget ones.


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