Gorilla Trekking Regulations and Permits
Reasons for trekking in Uganda
Gorilla trekking regulations and permits in Uganda. The “Pearl of Africa” is a very scenic country with lush landscapes, flowing rivers, and lots of wildlife. The lakes and mountains of Uganda are covered with dense rain forest. Friendly people and a safe country to travel in make Uganda another good choice. Uganda also has the best game viewing, chimpanzee trekking, cultural and heritage exchange, and of course, mountain gorilla trekking. Uganda’s main tourist attraction is the mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable National park. This African country is also home to many chimpanzees. The chimps are found in Kibale National park, which makes it a great tourist destination as well.
Tourists have been gorilla trekking in Uganda since early 90’s and is well established. The gorilla population is stable and growing because of the effective management of Bwindi Forest National Park and the conservation efforts. The National Park provides walking trails, beautiful views, bird watching and waterfalls. Tourists can also visit the local villages, like Buhoma, in order to get a taste of life in rural areas of Uganda.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking
Regulations for mountain gorilla trekking
Mountain gorilla trekking regulations are in place to ensure the well being of the endangered mountain gorillas. Regulations are in place to limit the number of people allowed in daily, the amount of time tourists can spend with the gorillas, and the maximum group size. Mountain gorillas are vulnerable to many human diseases and the regulations help with this as well.
Tourists can visit with the mountain gorillas are from 8:00 am to 7:00pm.
A maximum of eight people per day are allowed to visit the mountain gorillas. This reduces the exposure of the primates to disturbances and diseases caused by humans.
Tourists are only allowed to spend 1 hour with the primates.
Tourists must be at least 15 or 16 years old to be able to visit the gorillas.
Rules of gorilla trekking for the protection of the mountain gorillas
Any person who is sick, not feeling well or has an infectious disease will be advised to stay at the lodge so that the gorillas are not exposed.`
If anyone has to cough or sneeze when they are near the gorillas, they need to cover their nose and mouth and turn their head away from the gorillas. This minimizes the chances of the mountain gorillas being exposed to human viruses or bacteria.
Tourists must stay 5-7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. Again, this minimizes the exposure to human illness. If people keep their distance, the gorilla group will be more relaxed.
Visitors must keep their voices low up to a distance of 200 meters from the gorillas and not point or use a flash when using a camera.
Smoking, eating or drinking is not allowed near the mountain gorillas.
Visitors are asked to wash their hands before going on the trek. Again, helping keep the gorillas from exposure to diseases.
People are not allowed to touch the gorillas, even when they come close.
Visitors must carry all trash out. Trash can harbor diseases or other contaminators.
Tips for mountain gorilla trekking
Trekkers are advised to wear long pants, socks, long sleeved shirts, and gloves. These clothing items will keep people safe from bugs, as well as stinging nettle and thorny branches.
Being physically fit is a must because the hike goes through rough terrain and therefore is challenging and tiring.
Hikers should remember to bring enough water, water proof bags for cameras, insect repellent, sun screen and a hat.
People are advised to book an organized trip through a reputable tour company. Tour companies can get permits to visit the mountain gorillas before visitors arrive.
Tourists should try to avoid trekking in the rainy season when the hiking is difficult.
How to buy the gorilla trekking permits
Mountain gorilla trekking permits should be purchased at least 5 months before the planned trek, preferably through a tour operator. This is especially true during the high season of June to September and December to February, when many travelers want permits. There are a limited number of permits available.
The price of gorilla permits in Uganda
The gorilla permit price varies between the high season and the low season. High season permits cost $600. Low season permits, in April, May, and November are $450.
How and where to get gorilla trekking permits if not going through a tour company
Visitors can purchase permits for mountain gorilla trekking with cash or traveler checks at Uganda Wildlife Authority. Tourists can go to their central offices in Kampala or purchase permits from abroad. During high season advanced booking is recommended. During low season, visitors can get permits on the spot at Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters.
Buying mountain gorilla permits online
People wishing to trek can purchase permits online using EEF (a form of money transfer). Credit cards do not work. Permits can be purchased 2 years in advance by depositing 30% and paying the balance 91 days before the gorilla encounter. Local operators are given priority with 80% of the permits, leaving only 20% for people to buy directly. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is in charge of the permits but authorized tour companies are the easiest way to get a permit. Reputable tour companies do not mark up the price of the permits, so there’s no reason not to go directly to them.
Mountain gorilla permits in Rwanda
Visitors can obtain mountain gorilla permits through the Tourism Board offices in Kigali or Ruhengeri, near Volcanoes National Park. Tourists can also contact the Tourism Board via telephone or email. The permit costs $1,500 and is easiest to obtain from a tour operator. Trekkers are advised to book early. During peak tourist season, from June to October, it is advised that permits be purchased at least 4 months prior to the planned trip.
Gorilla permits in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Anyone planning to trek in the DRC is advised to book with a tour company. The DRC is more stable now, but the tour companies will help insure your safety. Permits cost $400.
When to go mountain gorilla trekking
Trekkers can go gorilla tracking at any time of the year, but during the rainy season the paths are much harder to navigate. The rainy season goes from March to May and October to November. Permits in Uganda during the rainy season only cost $450. The dry season, December to late February and June to late September, makes for easier hiking but more tourists.
This series of blogs was submitted by Green World Safaris. They arrange mountain gorilla tours in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They are based out of Uganda.