Gorilla tracking is Uganda’s leading and most fascinating travel activity in the pearl of Africa.
Uganda is home to the largest population of mountain Gorillas in the world with more than half of their entire population. The mountain Gorillas are habituated and made used to the presence of human beings in their different groups.
It is important to note that since the Gorillas live in a government protected area, you will need to acquire a permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority to be able to rack them in Bwindi Jungle and Mgahinga National Parks. The Gorilla permit therefore becomes an authorization for you to meet these forest giants for the time agreed.
Over 19 habituated gorilla families live in the Bwindi impenetrable forest and one Gorilla group lives in the Mgahinga gorilla Park in the neighboring district. This brings the total number of gorilla groups to 20 attracting thousands of travelers from all over the globe daily. You must be wondering what happens in case you book and you change your mind on the agreed date and you are unable to track the gorillas or you want to reschedule.
Uganda Wildlife Authority has a policy that guides cancellations for gorillas that guides them. And here are some of the terms and conditions that guide the decision to cancel or change your tracking dates.
In case you are unable to track because of illness after arriving, 50% of the permit cost will be refunded to them. The warden in charge at the park will have to provide evidence that the visitors was not feeling well and could not track the Gorillas.
Travelers who cancel their plans in a period of 90 days are refunded with 75% of the permit cost. Canceling between 45 to 90 days means a 50% refund and below hat period you will be refunded 25% and no refund for cancellation in the last one week of 7 days.
Cost of The Gorilla Permit
A gorilla permit costs 700USD per permit in Uganda for Nonresidents, 600 for foreign residents and 250,000Ugx for East African citizens. These prices changed recently in July for conservation purposes of the most endangered apes in the high mountains of Kigezi. Uganda is apparently the best place to go gorilla trekking in Africa since it has the highest number of Gorilla families giving you high chances of meeting the Gorillas. Gorilla habituation is another activity that requires all participants to have gorilla permits, a permit for gorilla habituation in Uganda s is at 1500USD per permit and the guests will be allowed to spend 4 hours with the Gorillas participating in the habituation of these gentle giants.
Where/When to get Gorilla permits in Uganda
Gorilla permits are issued by only the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), the government body that runs all protected areas in Uganda. The permits can be acquired through any trusted local tour operator or directly from UWA reservations through their contacts. We however recommend booking through your local Ugandan travel agency to make the process less stressing as you think about coming to Uganda. Gorillas can be visited anytime all year round in Uganda. The permits are always available since the weather favors the activity all the time.
Chance of Meeting the Gorillas in the Jungle
So many travelers keep wondering on the chance of them meeting the Gorillas in the forest since they are wild and keep moving from one point to another to feed. The park has trackers that move to the forest before the guests are led into this thick vegetation in search for the Gorilla. The trackers follow the Gorillas starting from the point where they spent the previous night. Once they get to where the Gorilla family is, they use radio call to connect to the team leading the guests to the exact point where the Gorillas are.
Some of the Gorilla families are found to live near the park headquarters and are easy to track by the visitors.
Minimum Age for tracking the Gorillas
Tracking Gorillas is for adults of 15 years and above. The argument here is that kids of 14 years and below may not be in position to make proper judgement on what to do when a mountain gorilla comes close to them. Children may run away, cry or scream loud when a gorilla gets closer to them. An exception to this is when the child’s birthday turning 15 is the tracking date and/or if the parents prove to the authorities that their child is mature enough to behave before the wild animals. The parent is then asked to sign an agreement to take responsibility of anything that may happen during the tracking.
Access to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park
Being tropical rain-forests, access to both parks is some times impossible without a 4×4 vehicle. Rain is expected at any time in the gorilla habitats and neighboring areas, and the roads are in terrible state. Like in any other national parks in East Africa, a successful safari requires a strong 4×4 car, and among the models recommended or guided or self drive safari in East Africa include Toyota Prado, Land cruiser V8, VX, GX, Nissan Patrol and many others.