How to acquire Gorilla Permits in Uganda
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in 2 national parks; Mgahinga national park, which is a home to 1 gorilla family (Nyakagezi) and Bwindi impenetrable national park. Bwindi has 4 sectors and each is a home to at least 2 gorilla families.
All tourists planning to do gorilla trekking in any of these destinations will need a gorilla permit. The Gorilla Permit allows you enter the park with the company of ranger guides to look for these gentle giants. All permits are got from the Uganda wildlife authority headquarters in Kampala.
The gorilla permits cost $600 per person for foreign national residents (FNR), $500 for foreign residents (FR) and shillings 250000 for East Africans. This price goes up to May 30th 2020. As of 1st July 2020 the prices will be increased to $700 (FNR), $600 (FR).
There are 2 options to acquiring the permit: you can make payment to UWA yourself or through your tour operator.
If Booking Uganda Gorilla Permits Directly Through UWA (Uganda wildlife authority), you first have to contact UWA’s reservation office by email inquiring about the availability of the dates you intend to track the gorillas. Note that you need to consider a full day of travel from Kampala to Bwindi after you have landed in Kampala. If the dates you want are unavailable, you can request UWA to let you know of the nearest dates (of which they will probably do). You will then decide to make payment.
At this time, they will advise you of their banking details, so that you can proceed to make an electronic transfer of the money. Please remember to immediately send a copy of the transaction receipt by email or fax to UWA.
The transfer should usually take not more than 3 days and UWA will keep your tentative booking for at least 7 days as they await the transfer to go through. Please ensure that you instruct you bank to deduct the bank charges from you. If the money sent is less, your permit may not be booked.
Booking through a Tour and Travel Agent. Many tourists have however found the above procedure quicker and less tedious ways of reserving their gorilla permits by working with local Uganda tour operator. The tour operators will usually charge a fee of US$20-$50 per gorilla permit.
Some other companies will not charge you for buying gorilla permits if you are getting other tour services (like transfers and tours) through them. But if you only like them to help you acquire the gorilla permit alone, a maximum of $35 applies on each gorilla permit booked.
The procedure is almost similar as above, except that the tour agencies tend to speed-up the process and most likely you will get you gorilla permit confirmation faster.