Booking gorilla trekking permits for a self-drive trip in Uganda requires some research and planning, but it is a relatively straightforward process. Here are the steps to follow:
Decide which gorilla group you want to visit
Uganda has several habituated gorilla groups available for trekking, and each group requires a separate permit. Research the different groups, their locations, and their difficulty levels to determine which group is best for you.
Most travelers have found the Ruhija sector the easiest for the treks however much it has the steepest terrain. Some people have found Buhoma to be the best because of its wide range of accommodation options. Others have found the Rushaga sector the best because of its large gorilla families.
There are many things that come into play when choosing a gorilla family. It is highly recommended that you get a safari to advise from a tour operator before you make up your mind on which sector you would wish to visit.
Check permit availability
Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda are limited and can sell out quickly, especially during peak season. Check availability online or by contacting the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) directly. However, sometimes Uganda Wildlife Authority takes forever to respond. The help of a local tour operator would come in handy when checking for permit availability.
Apply for a permit
You can apply for a permit through the UWA website or by contacting them directly. Provide your preferred trekking date, the gorilla group you want to visit, and personal details for each member of your group. You will need to pay for the permit in full at the time of booking to avoid any inconvenience.
However, it is important to note that if you are a foreign none resident, you can only purchase gorilla trekking permits through the Uganda Tourism Board licensed tour operator. It is no longer possible to buy permits by yourself if you are a foreign none resident.
Obtain a self-Drive Gorilla Permit
If you are planning a self-Drive gorilla safari, you will also need to obtain a gorilla trekking permit before the start of your trip. You will need to provide a copy of your gorilla trekking permit, along with a valid Identity document and proof of payment.
Prepare for your trek
Gorilla trekking can be physically challenging, so it’s important to prepare accordingly. Make sure you have the appropriate gear, including sturdy hiking boots, a rain jacket, and a backpack. It’s also a good idea to hire a local guide or porter to assist you during the trek.
Packing breakfast and lunch are essential since you are likely to spend a full day in the forest if the mountain gorillas continue to move far away than expected.
Enjoy your trek
Once you have your permits and have prepared for your trek, it’s time to set off on your adventure! Remember to follow all the rules and regulations set by the UWA, including staying at least 10 meters away from the gorillas and keeping your group small and quiet.
Good luck and have a great trip!