The Gorilla Permit – The Golden Ticket to Gorilla Trekking Adventures in Africa

If you are planning to go on a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda or Rwanda, the first thing you need to plan for is the gorilla permit. This is a government-issued ticket that you must book in advance to be able to trek gorillas in either country. Here, you should find all the details on how to book the permit, its price, availability, and any restrictions you need to be aware of.

Price, availability, restrictions, and how to book the gorilla permit in Rwanda and Uganda

Starting July 1, 2024, the Uganda gorilla permit will be increased to USD 800 per person, UWA announced on January 22, 2024. Foreign Residents will pay $700, the rest of Africa $500, and East African Community Citizens UGX 300,000.

Gorilla trekking is a unique and thrilling experience that allows you to get up close and personal with Africa’s endangered mountain gorillas. However, to undertake this unforgettable adventure, you need to book a gorilla permit. In this article, we’ll define the gorilla permit, explore the differences between Uganda and Rwanda gorilla permits, and provide you with essential information on booking, availability, and restrictions.

What is a gorilla permit?

A gorilla permit is a government-issued document (or ticket) that grants tourists permission to trek and spend time with a habituated gorilla family in their natural habitat. The permit fee is a significant source of revenue for gorilla conservation and community development in rural Uganda and Rwanda, highly contributing to protecting these endangered primates and their habitats.

Uganda gorilla permit price

The Uganda gorilla permit costs $700 per person per trek but will increase to $800 starting July 1, 2024. You can choose to trek from the five trekking centers—Nkuringo & Rushaga in the south of Bwindi, Buhoma & Ruhija in the north of Bwindi, and Ntebeko in Mgahinga—depending on permit availability. 

The gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 per person and is only available for the Rushaga Sector, south of Bwindi.

The Uganda trekking permit allows visitors to spend an hour observing a gorilla family, and the habituation permit allows visitors up to 4 hours with the gorilla group. Both include armed ranger protection, an expert tracker guide, and a certificate of completion.

Uganda is home to nearly half of the world’s mountain gorillas, with over 400 individuals living in two national parks, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Between the two national parks, 20 habituated gorilla families are available for trekking, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority issues 8 permits per gorilla group for gorilla trekking and 4 permits for gorilla habituation experience. Only one gorilla group is currently available ( by June 2023) for the Habituation Experience in Bwindi.

Rwanda gorilla permit price

The Rwanda gorilla permit costs $1,500 per person per trek, and 96 permits are available daily. The Rwanda permit fee may be higher than Uganda’s, but Rwanda’s gorillas are easier to access from the International Airport than in Uganda, and the road network is exceptionally maintained. 

Rwanda also offers a unique gorilla naming ceremony annually in September called Kwita Izina. During the here, visitors can participate in naming newly born gorilla babies like the ancient Rwandan culture of naming newborns. The festival also celebrates Rwanda’s commitment to sustainable and responsible tourism bringing together communities around Volcanoes National Park, research partners, vets, and dedicated conservationists, rangers, and trackers who protect the gorillas. The annual gorilla festival is free but by invitation only.

Rwanda has ten habituated gorilla families living on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains, protected within Volcanoes National Park. There are 12 gorilla groups available for trekking in Volcanoes National Park, including Noheli (7 Members), Kwisanga (17 Members), Agashya (20 Members), Amahoro (21 Members), Igisha (34 Members), Isimbi (16 Members), Karisimbi (10 Members), Kwitonda (20 Members), Muhoza (17 Members), Sabinyo (18), Susa (21), and Umubano (14).

Discounted gorilla trekking permits

Uganda offers discounted gorilla tracking permits to foreign residents at USD 600 per person and East African Nationals at UGX 250,000. Starting July 1, 2024, the prices will change to $700 for foreign residents, $500 for African citizens, and UGX 300,000 for East African Community citizens. The gorilla habituation permit is discounted at USD 1000 for foreign residents and UGX 750,000 for East African citizens.

Rwanda discounts gorilla permits for foreign residents in Africa at $500 and East African citizens at $200 per person.

Nkuringo Gorilla Family - you need a gorilla permit to see these gorillas in Africa
Nkuringo Gorilla Family relaxing after a mid-morning break from foraging. Photo Credit: Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge

How to book a gorilla permit in Rwanda and Uganda

Booking a Rwanda or Uganda gorilla permit requires you to go through a registered local tour operator or directly with the national park authorities, but one must be 15 years or older

In Uganda, one can go to the UWA head office in Kampala or email them. But the quickest and safest way is through a licensed local operator who will cushion you from logistical nightmares and help you postpone or cancel your booking when the unexpected happens.

For Rwanda, you can book your gorilla permit online through the official RDB website at visitrwandabookings.rdb.rw. Also, we highly recommend you use a local operator to help through some logistical requirements you may find challenging to navigate. 

The age limit for booking a gorilla permit and trekking gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda is 15 years, and they must have a valid passport. You must provide your passport details, preferred trekking date, and park of choice. Payment is required upfront to secure your permit.

When should you book a gorilla permit?

It’s best to book your gorilla permit at least 6 to 12 months in advance, especially if you plan to travel during the high season (June-September and December-February). During these months, permits tend to sell out quickly due to the ideal trekking conditions and increased demand. Additionally, you will find it challenging to book decent accommodation in the entire safari region during the peak seasons.

However, if you’re traveling during the low season (March-May and October-November), you can book your permit a few weeks or months ahead of your preferred trekking date. During the low season, heavy rains disrupt travel for many people, and trails are challenging to navigate, which means low demand for trekking permits. Also, most safari lodges reduce room prices during this time, targeting low-budget travelers.

Most importantly, book your gorilla tracking permit before planning anything else, including international flights. Once you have the license secured, you can plan your itinerary around the permit dates; otherwise, adjusting your dates later can be a pain in the neck.

Gorilla permit availability

By law, only 8 tourists can visit each habituated gorilla family per day, meaning that about 152 permits are available daily in Uganda and less than 100 in Rwanda. Permit availability is limited, and gorilla permits tend to sell out quickly, so booking in advance is essential. Most importantly, permits are issued on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Permit terms and conditions.

Uganda and Rwanda gorilla permits are non-refundable and non-transferable since your passport details are checked against the ticket. 

If you cancel your gorilla tour or fail to turn up on the tracking day, you can not get your money back for whatever reason. When the ticket expires, that’s it; you can’t make any claim. 

However, your tour operator can reschedule the permit to another date up to 14 days before the tracking date. And you can do this only once at no cost; the second time incurs a 25% penalty.

If the tracking date is within the next six months, a full payment of 100% is required to confirm the booking. This ensures that the permit is reserved for the specific date and group size requested.

For bookings where the tracking date is more than six months away, a deposit of 50% of the value of the permit may be made to secure the booking. This allows visitors to plan their trip in advance and secure their permits while finalizing their travel arrangements.

If the tracking date is within the next six months, a full payment of 100% is required to confirm the booking. This ensures that the permit is reserved for the specific date and group size requested.

For bookings where the tracking date is more than six months away, a deposit of 50% of the value of the permit may be made to secure the booking. This allows visitors to plan their trip in advance and secure their permits while finalizing their travel arrangements.

Where a deposit has been made, the balance of 50% shall be paid within 90 days of the tracking date. Otherwise, the permit shall be automatically canceled, and the client shall forfeit the deposit. For online reservations, payment has to be completed within 72 hours. However, if you must cancel your booking, you must incur expenses. 

Uganda Wildlife Authority has the following permit cancellation terms;

  • No refunds for less than 9 nine days to the tracking date.
  • 25% refund for 9-45 days to the tracking date
  • 50% refund for 46-90 days to the trekking date, and
  • 70% refund for more than 90 days to the trekking date

In Rwanda, if you book your permit through an operator, it is possible to reschedule to another day with a minimum of 30 days’ notice. However, there is an exception for people who fail to track due to unexpected gorilla group movements. Depending on trekking availability, they can try again the next day or receive a full refund. If you trek all day and fail to find the gorillas, you will get a 75% refund.

These permit terms could change at any time without notice, so ensure you speak to your booking agent to update you on the latest terms.

In conclusion, if you are planning a gorilla tour in Uganda or Rwanda, a gorilla permit is a crucial ticket you must consider before anything else to enable you to experience a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with Africa’s mountain gorillas. You must book your pass in advance through a registered tour operator or directly with the national park authorities and then plan your gorilla safari itinerary around the permit dates.

Please inquire with our local specialists for more information at info@nkuringosafaris.com

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The Gorilla Permit – The Golden Ticket to Gorilla Trekking Adventures in Africa
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