May 28, 2023
Mountain gorillas can only be found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (60% of them) and the Virunga Massif which consists of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (in Uganda), Volcanos National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in DRC.
To track or trek the gorillas, you need a pre-booked gorilla tracking permit. Currently, a gorilla permit costs USD600 in Uganda, $1500 in Rwanda and $400 in DRC. A gorilla permit entitles you to one day of gorilla tracking with about 1 hour in the presence of the gorillas. It also includes the park entrance fee for the day and the park guides for the trek.
To be safe, you need to book your gorilla tracking permit at least three months in advance. For busier months of July to September and January to March, you permit should be booked at least seven months in advance as most places sell out as you get closer.
Since all national parks with mountain gorillas are located remotely away from the cities you arrive at, in addition to the gorilla permit, you need to plan for your transportation to the parks, accommodation in the parks, and your meals. A gorilla tracking trip can for at least two days in Rwanda, and three days in Uganda and DRC. Because of the complexities involved in arranging all this, many involve services of local tour agents to plan and execute the gorilla tracking tours.
Several companies provide permit bookings for gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation experience. While booking a gorilla tour, always pay your gorilla permit fee in advance to enable companies acquire it for you. Gorilla trekking is only guaranteed when you acquire a permit.
After paying for your gorilla tracking permit, you are now fine to go ahead with the rest of your tour bookings like accommodation, transportation, air tickets among others.
For Rwanda gorilla tracking tours, transportation can only be by road- either by public means or by private hired tour cars, but you will anyhow need to arrange private means from Musanze town to the park and back, and also to the gorilla trek start point. It takes about 2 hrs from Kigali to Volcanoes NP.
For Uganda, you could do with public buses up to a town near the park and then hire taxis to the park. Several tour agents hire transportation from the capital Kampala to the park. It takes about 8 hours driving. Daily flights are also available between Bwindi and Entebbe but you would still need to arrange transfers from the airports to the park/ accommodation.
There’s plenty of accommodation facilities near all gorilla parks and they are quite easy to book in advance.