Booking a Mountain Gorilla permit
Mountain gorillas are members of the great apes family and one of the most endangered in the group that includes the human beings, chimpanzees, the Orangutans and other sub species of gorillas like the eastern and western low land and the cross river gorillas.
The mountain gorillas can only be found in 3 countries in the whole world; that is, in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. However, of recent, tracking in Congo has been put on halt because of insecurity by the rebel movements in the eastern part of the country. This makes tracking possible only in Uganda and Rwanda.
Tracking these endangered apes requires one to have a gorilla permit. The process of reserving a gorilla permit in both countries is the same. A tourist can obtain one from Uganda Wildlife Authority for Uganda gorillas or Rwanda Development Board for Rwanda gorillas.
This however is a tiring process as may require one to travel to their offices and go through the hustle to pay for the permit. The easiest way is through a tour agent or tour operator like Africa Adventure Safaris. With us, as soon as the client pays confirmation fee of 40% of the total tour cost, we reserve a gorilla permit on his behalf from any of the bodies in the respective countries.
In Uganda, the gorilla permit costs $600 per day per person while in Rwanda, it costs $750 and Congo has the cheapest at $400.
Gorilla tracking Rules
For those planning to do a gorilla tracking safari in any of the countries, it is paramount to know the tracking guidelines/ rules / code of conduct in order to have a harmonious experience. The tracking rules and procedures are uniform throughout the 3 countries since the gorilla range cuts across territories and roam freely across borders.
A maximum number of 8 visitors is allowed to visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes social disturbance and stress to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases. Rwanda has 10 habituated mountain gorilla groups while Uganda has 12 habituated groups for tracking.
Below is a set of guidelines one should follow while on his/ her gorilla tracking safari:
• Please always keep your voices low in order not to scare them away or irritate them. Noise may also hinder you from tracing their position in the forest if you do not pay attention to hear their vocal communications. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
• DO NOT leave any litter in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back with you to avoid degrading the gorilla’s habitat and also the resultant diseases from such pollutants.
• When you approach the mountain gorillas, you are advised to keep a distance not closer than 7 meters for your own good and the health of the mountain gorilla. You are guaranteed 1 hour to see, observe and take photos and even ask your guide all you need to know about the gorilla.
• You must stay in tight group when you are near the gorillas and follow your guide’s instruction.
• Smoking, drinking or eating when you are near the gorillas is prohibited. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.
• If the gorillas charge (attempt to attack), follow the guide’s example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
• Flash photography is highly forbidden. When taking pictures move slowly and carefully and make sure your camera is not producing any sound or flash.
• Do not touch the gorillas because they are wild animals and therefore unpredictable. They can do anything at any time.
• After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.
• If you are feeling ill, or you have a contagious disease like flue, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money. This is because the gorillas can be infected by any human disease and treating them is costly
• If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or virus.
• If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga / hoe. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and cover it when you finish.