Before one is accepted to go for gorilla trekking,there are various procedures that one should adhere to before being given a green flag to go in the actual process of gorilla trekking. The most paramount procedure here is securing a gorilla permit which can be done through agents or directly from the responsible authorities.
Below is a detailed account of how one can attain these gorilla permits;
- Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is done in Volcanoes National Park and gorilla trekking/ tracking permits booking is managed by the Rwanda Tourism Office (ORTPN). Each gorilla permit costs US$750.On each particular day, about 80 persons can visit Rwanda gorillas, 8 persons per each gorilla family given that there are only ten groups.
Gorilla permits are in high demand, because of the stiff competition for them, and therefore are booked with payment on the basis of first come first served. Book your gorilla permit in advance to avoid disappointment.
To Trek Mountain Gorillas each person must have the day’s gorilla permit which needs to be arranged and paid for in advance, preferably at least 10 months for the high seasons – June-September and December-February; or latest 4-6 months in advance for the low seasons – October-November and March-May. This can be made possible by the availability of tour operators that are very competent and they normally book your gorilla permits at no extra cost.
Gorilla permits are booked with payment on the basis of first come first serve. Availability of gorilla permits for a required date is not guaranteed. There is a lot of competition for the gorilla permits, which makes it hard to get one for yourself. Any delay in confirmation and or payment may mean that you will be unable to obtain the permit on your preferred date.
Once you book and send your money for permits, the date cannot change (changing a tracking date means a cancellation fee is charged). Rwanda charges $100 for each permit date changed.
There is also another option of booking gorilla permits directly through ORTPN.In case you have to book a gorilla permit from outside Rwanda,you first have to contact ORTPN’s reservation office by email inquiring about availability of the dates you intend to track the gorillas. If the exact dates you want are unavailable, you can request ORTPN to let you know of the nearest dates. You then reply to them expressing your intent to book those permits, and requesting them to temporarily hold them as you 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 voucher/ receipt by email or fax to ORTPN.
The transfer should usually take not more than 3 days and ORTPN will keep your tentative booking for at least 7 days as they await the transfer to go through. Please ensure that you instruct your bank to deduct the bank charges from you. Otherwise if the money sent is less, your permit may not be booked.
The most rampant and sought after module of attaining gorilla permits is the use of tour operators and travel agents. Many intending gorilla trekkers have however found the above procedure tedious and have sought our quicker and less tedious ways of reserving their gorilla permits by working with local Rwanda tour operator.
The procedure is almost similar as above, except that the tour agencies tend to speed-up the process and most likely you will get your gorilla permit confirmation faster as they always send you a scanned copy of those permits as soon as they are issued thus an assurance of proof that you are dealing with competent people. However, there are certain things that you have to put right before your permit is issued like the dates you want to track these primates, your full names plus those of other people you are traveling with as they appear in your passport.
If at all lady luck is on your side, you might get a last minute gorilla permit from any tour operator. There are situations when some tourists buy gorilla permits and then eventually end up not making it to the actual tracking due to various reasons beyond their control. So these permits remain in the hands of these tour operators who now begin looking for buyers of these permits. So when you avail yourself and you want to track on the same dates as inscribed on the gorilla permits available, then you get yourself one at the last hour.