This guide is for helping anyone planning a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda in putting together a memorable gorilla trekking adventure to go see the magnificent mountain gorillas and spend a moment with them in their natural rainforest jungle.
Seeing mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is a top African safari wilderness experience and one that’ll make you feel good about contributing to wildlife conservation. Uganda protects more than half of these endangered creatures within two locations in the country’s southwestern corner and offers the best gorilla trekking safari experiences. Almost all safari holidays in this tiny East African country include a day gorilla trekking in the prehistoric misty jungles searching for a family of mountain gorillas.
The trek is sometimes longer than expected, tiring, and painful, but the little time you spend with our primitive cousins in their natural home is indescribable. When you’re face-to-face with a 400-pound silverback, a whole bucketload of primitive emotions wash and leave you forever changed.
The gorilla trekking safari is worth all the money, pain, and emotions you spend to get to them. Believe me, every tourist who’s sat in the jungle next to these magnificent creatures will tell you the same thing: the memories last for a lifetime.
With just above 1070 remaining globally, mountain gorillas are among the most protected animals on the continent, yet conservationists still allow tourists to visit them in their natural habitat. Why so?
Uganda is open for tourism amidst a war on COVID-19, and anyone can trek the rainforest jungles and spend a once-in-a-lifetime moment with the mountain gorillas.
The Gorilla Permit
The number one item on the list of planning a gorilla safari in Uganda is the gorilla permit. The permit is your gorilla trekking access pass.
Issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the permit allows you one to four hours with a single gorilla family. It comes with complementary offers like two armed rangers for your security, a trekking guide, and a team of rangers to track the gorillas ahead of you for assurance of meeting the jungle giants.
What is the price of a Uganda gorilla permit?
Any foreign non-resident above the age of 15 can track Uganda’s gorillas for a permit price of USD 700. Foreign residents pay USD 600, and East African Nationals pay 250,000 Uganda Shillings (UGX). However, this permit only allows you one hour with a selected gorilla family.
To get more time with the gorillas in their natural habitat, go for the Habituation permit that currently costs USD 1,500. The Habituation permit offers at least four hours with a gorilla family. If you’re keen to find a physical challenge that will lead to spending priceless jungle hours with gorillas, this is it!
Are there discounted gorilla permits?
Occasionally, the Uganda Wildlife Authority discounts the gorilla permits at least once every year. For example, between Dec 2020 and June 2021, UWA discounted the permit to $400/$300/150,000 (UGX) for foreign non-residents/residents/EA Nationals. To take advantage of the discounted permits, reach out to your tour operator about the latest developments.
Where and how to get a Uganda gorilla permit?
Uganda Wildlife Authority, a government conservation arm, is the only one authorized to issue permits on behalf of the government. You can purchase yours directly from UWA offices in Kampala.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to deal with the cumbersome logistics of rescheduling, canceling, or even just processing to buy a permit, get one through a licensed tour operator in Uganda like Barien Safaris.
UWA licenses several local operators to sell 80% percent of the permits. The other 20% is what is sold directly to tourists. Operators charge about 5-30% of the permit price to deal with the logistics. It is a fair deal considering the modalities of permit processing.