Uganda gorilla trekking permits – 2024 permit prices, how to book and terms and conditions, and FAQs

To take part in the famous gorilla trekking in Uganda you need a gorilla tracking permit or pass or call it ticket. The gorilla permits are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Only 8 gorilla tracking permits or passes are issued per day for each gorilla group, meaning a maximum of 8 persons can track a gorilla group. In total there are about 15 habituated gorilla trekking groups in the two Uganda gorilla parks, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Below are some of the frequently asked questions about booking gorilla trekking permit pass in Uganda

What is the cost of a gorilla permit pass in Uganda in 2024 – 2025?

The cost of the Uganda gorilla permit is as follows (effective July 2024):

International visitor (Foreign none resident) US$ 800
Foreign resident in Uganda or East Africa US$ 700
Ugandan citizen UGX 300,000 (approx. US$ 75)

Foreign resident must show proof of residence such as a work permit.

When booking a gorilla permit in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park you must select which sector you want to track from. Each sector has a number of habituated gorilla groups. Bwindi National Park has four sectors to choose from, they are; Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. If you have booked a gorilla permit of a particular sector and decide to change and go tracking in a different sector or location you will be fined 50% of the cost of a gorilla tracking permit for tracking in a different location from your gorilla permit.

Meanwhile, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has just one habituated gorilla group and therefore doesn’t require selecting a sector.

When should I book my gorilla trekking permit pass?

Since the number of gorilla permits is limited, you should book your permit/pass as early as possible or immediately you decide you want to do the gorilla trek and the date confirmed. Most people book their permit one year in advance, especially if the gorilla trip is during the high tourism season. June to September is a high tourism season and gorilla permits sell out quickly.

Can I get a refund for my gorilla permit pass if I am unable to make it for the gorilla trip?

Yes, you can get a refund on your gorilla permit/pass under the following terms by the Uganda Wildlife Authority that issues the permit:

Cancel less than 8 days to trekking date – no refund at all

Cancel 9 – 45 days to trekking date – 25% refund

Cancel 46 – 90 days to trekking date – 50% refund

Cancel 91 days and above to trekking date – 70% refund

If you make it to Uganda for your gorilla trip but at the last minute, say a day before the trek, you fall sick or get an injury and you unable to join the trek you will report to the park and you will be refunded 50% after a doctor’s report.

Is it possible to reschedule a Uganda gorilla permit to another date?

You are allowed to reschedule the gorilla permit once to a new date as long as there is availability on that date.

Gorilla habituation in Uganda instead of gorilla trekking in Rwanda?

The gorilla trek in Rwanda costs US$ 1500 for one permit which allows you one hour with a family of mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. On the other hand, the gorilla habituation experience in Uganda costs $1500 but the experience lasts 4 hours. So why not go to Uganda for the habituation experience and have more time with gorillas? Many travelers who have the 1500 to spend think about these two alternatives, trying to figure out where they would maximize better…

Why the tracking in Rwanda could be a better option than the gorilla habituation in Uganda

The gorilla trekking in Rwanda is worthwhile because you have more than ten habituated gorilla families to select from, depending on the kind of experience you wish to have with the gorillas. Some people like a group with young/juvenile gorillas as they are the most active in the group, others want a group with a baby gorilla while others may want a group that will give them great views of the massive silverback (some gorilla families have many silverbacks but with only one being the dominate). Therefore trekking in Rwanda gives you these many options when selecting the gorilla family to go tracking.

On the other hand, the gorilla habituation experience in Uganda is limited to just one group in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Other gorilla families are not available for the habituation experience, hence you cannot select another group if you have particular interests for a gorilla group.

Other advantages of trekking in Rwanda instead of going to Uganda for the gorilla habituation experience:

  • The breathing Virunga mountain range offers great scenery and a beautiful backdrop to the gorilla trekking experience
  • Chance of seeing the beautiful golden monkeys in the Virunga mountain
  • Shorter drive from Kigali

Why you may instead want to go for the habituation experience in Uganda

The gorilla habituation in Uganda gives you an opportunity to spend more than one hour with the gorillas. The habituation experience is four hours long, however note that it does not mean you are spending all four hours with the gorillas. The four hours include the time you take to track down the gorillas by following clues they left behind from a place they were last seen the previous day. The habituation of gorillas requires collecting of data left on their trail, and you will now be taking part in this important process which you would miss out during the ordinary gorilla trek. If you are lucky to find the gorillas quickly say after one hour, you will spend the rest of the three hours with them.

However, the unfortunate bit can be if you take more than three hours to find the gorillas, that would mean you would be left with just minutes to be with them. This rarely happens though!

But…the gorilla trekking in Uganda is $700, why not go to Uganda and track the gorillas two times ($1400) and save $100?

Murchison Falls National Park rates/fees/pricing for 2023

Have a weekend free in Kampala and wish to have a great safari experience in Uganda? Plan a safari trip to Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda’s prime wildlife safari destination that will give you great views of many animals and a once in a life time opportunity to witness the world’s strongest waterfalls – the Murchison Falls!

Murchison Falls National Park is accessed by both land and air. The road trip from Kampala to Murchison Falls National Park is approximately 5 hours, meaning you will get there early enough to start experiencing the park. The park provides a number of activities that you can do. The road trip to Murchison Falls National Park also gives you a wonderful opportunity to stop by the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and see the rhinos – thus ticking off a member of the African Big Five which is the only one not found in Murchison Falls National Park (others are Elephant, Lion, Buffalo, Leopard).

Below are Murchison Falls National Park entry and activities fees for the year 2022 (effective July 2022)

Tourist entry fees (per person)

Entry fee USD UGX
International visitor (Foreign Non Resident) – Adults 45
International visitor Children 5 – 15 years 25
Foreign Resident 35
Foreign Residents children 5 – 15 years 15
East African citizens 25,000
East African citizens children 5 – 15 years 10,000

Children below 5 years do not pay entry fees

Park entry fees are valid for 24 hours from the time of entering the park. For example, if you check into the park at 11am, your entry expires 11am the following day, beyond that is another day that requires payment.

It does not matter whether your accommodation is outside the park, once you have checked into the park and exit your entry is still valid and can get back in any time in the day for activities (park gates close at 7pm).

Car entry fees

Type of car Foreign Ugandan Registered
Saloon cars 40 20,000
Minibuse, Omni-buses 50 30,000
Pick-ups 50 30,000
Tour Company vehicles & 4-wheel drive 150 100,000
Buses & Lorries 200 30,000
School buses 50,000

Activities and prices

Activity `FNR FR EAC
Day self-game drive per private car (with no park guide) 10 10 10,000
Day guided game drive per private car (with a park guide) 20 15 20,000
Night guided game drive per person (using park guides is mandatory for night drives) 30 20 50,000
Hiring park game drive car for Day game drive – per person 30 25 30,000
Hiring park game drive car for Night game drive – per person 40 35 40,000
Boat cruise to the bottom of the falls 30 25 30,000
Top of the falls walk – per person 15 10 10,000
Viewing top of the falls – per person 10 10 10,000
Viewing top of the falls for tertiary institutions/universities –  per person n/a n/a 5,000
Viewing top of the falls for secondary students –  per person n/a n/a 2,000
Day nature walk – per person 15 10 10,000
Sport fishing permit  – 1 day 50 50 $50
Annual fishing permit 300
Birdwatching 30 25 20,000

Accommodation run by the park (Uganda Wildlife Authority)

Dormitory UGX
Adults 25,000
Students (within a group) 5,000
Children 10,000

Fines and Penalties

Offence Penalty
Off-tracking driving fine $150 (per person in the vehicle, to be incurred by the driver)
Over speeding (speed limit is 40km/hr) UGX 100,000 per incident
Animal accident fee (road kill) $500
Littering in the park UGX 100,000 per incident
Hooting in the park UGX 100,000 per incident
Sitting on top of the vehicle $100 per incident

Here is the complete official tariff plan from the Uganda Wildlife Authority

Tips on keeping safe during safari in Akagera national park

Akagera National Park, Rwanda’s only savannah park and the only destination for a wildlife safari trip in Rwanda, is home to the famous African big five (Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Rhino and Elephant) and many other animals such as giraffes, hyena, antelopes, crocodiles and hippos.

Many travelers visit Akagera national park on non-guided safari tours, exploring the different parts of the vast park on their own. As much as there have not been any incidents of animal attacks and accidents, however with the increasing population of animals and reintroduction of lions and rhinos in Akagera it will not be long before these incidences happen. In this article I share tips on how to explore the park safely.

1. Keep on the drive tracks

Akagera National Park has a good network of drive tracks that allows for easy exploring of the different parts of the park. Tourists are also provided a map of the park showing the different trails/tracks in the park for easy navigation. Sometimes it may be tempting to get off the track and get closer views of an animal. However this is risky as you have no escape route in case you are charged at by a large animal such as an elephant. Going off the track is also illegal and attracts a heavy fine by the authorities if found.

2. Go slow, do not drive beyond 40km/hr

40km/hr is the accepted speed limit in Akagera National Park. Some sections of the tracks are quite smooth but do not be tempted to drive at higher speed because any time an animal could cross the road. Knocking a large animal like an elephant, buffalo, or rhino will be fatal for you. Or you will put the small animals at risk and causing a roadkill attracts a heavy fine by the park if caught.

3. Do not get too close to animals, do not get closer than 10 meters

10 meters is considered the safe distance from an animal, getting closer than that would agitate the animal. This is especially advised for the large dangerous animals such as elephants, rhinos, giraffes and buffaloes, as well as the predators like the lions, leopard, and hyena. However depending on the behavior displayed by the animal you may need to keep as far as possible. Keep farther away from lone elephant bulls and buffaloes that in most cases have been forced out of their herds and are frustrated. They take any chance to vent their anger. You should also not get too close to animals with babies such as elephants, and predators like leopards who are very protective of their babies.

4. Wear nature blending colors. Avoid red

Wear nature blending colors such as the brown and green colors. Avoid bright colors, especially red because it looks like blood to predators like lions that can be attracted to attack. To some other animals and birds, it is a color that signifies danger and will flee away thereby spoiling your experience. Tsetse flies which are present in the southern part of Akagera National Park are also attracted to bright colors and will give you nasty bites.

5. Do not leave the car except in designated areas i.e. camping/picnic grounds

Do not be tempted to leave the car, especially near bushes and thickets. An animal could be larking nearby and pounce you. The biggest threat are the buffaloes which are fond of ambushing from bushes, and the snakes of course of which Akagera national Park has plenty. Only get out of the car from designated cleared areas in camping grounds. But even here you should first scan the nearby environment for animals and snakes on the ground!

6. Do not smoke in the park

Do not be tempted to smoke near bushes because you can start a fire

7. Do not feed the animals

Feeding animals such as monkeys, baboons, elephants can cause them to lose their natural instinct of looking for food and will result to attacking humans when they see foods such as fruits in the car.

8. Keep the car and room doors closed

Keep the doors closed and locked to keep out animals and snakes that could easily creep in and could harm you!

9. Take a park guide for the safari drive

The park provides guides for hire on game drive. The guides know about the wildlife of the park and the best spots to find particular animals. They also know about animal behavior and will know what to do when faced with an agitated animal.

Top animals to be extra careful about

Hippo – number one killer animal in Africa! Good thing they spend the day in water and only come out in the evening when the temperature is cool. Be vigilant when walking around your lodge at night more so if staying near water

Elephant – Do not get too close to a herd with babies, elephants are very protective. Also avoid close encounter with lone bulls, they are frustrated after being chased out of their herds.

Buffalo – Avoid lone buffaloes, these are mostly bulls that have been chased from their herds and are very frustrated and angry and will look for an opportunity to vent their anger.

Rhinos (black rhino) – the black rhinos are now present in the southern area of the park which is largely covered by woodland and forest. The black rhino is known to be more aggressive than the white rhino. Already, one of the experts brought in to train the local management of the park on monitoring the rhinos was killed by a black rhino in Akagera.

Crocodile – huge crocodiles can be seen basking along the shores of lakes and wetlands in Akagera National Park. Avoid getting too close to the shores.

Snakes – Akagera National Park is home to many species of snakes, including the highly venous mabamba family, vipers, cobras, etc… Avoid walking bushes and scan your immediate environment when out of the car.

Tsetse flies – the southern region of the park has tsetse flies and they give a nasty bite. Put on insect repellent and avoid bright colors and keep the car windows up when going through the acacia woodland in the south of the park.

Lions – lions are thought of as the most dangerous animals but on the contrary they do not attack what they are not interested in eating and luckily humans are not on the menu. However keep away from a lioness with cubs, same with all other predators with cubs such as leopards, they are very dangerous during this time!

Tips on how to keep safe during safari in Murchison Falls national park

Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s biggest park. It is also the most popular park in Uganda for wildlife safaris because it offers the best chances to see most of the animals, and the thrilling boat cruise experience on the River Nile leading to spectacular views of the famous Murchison Falls – the world’s strongest waterfalls! The park is also easy to access with a good paved road from Kampala going all the way into the park (takes 5 – 6 hours drive).

The excellent safari experience and easy access make Murchison Falls National Park the destination of choice for most safari trips, attracting more independent travelers on self-drive trips! But, as more people opt for self-drive safari trips to the Murchison Falls National Park, incidences of fatal animal attacks and accidents are on the rise in the park. This is largely because travelers do not how to conduct themselves during safari in Murchison Falls National Park.

In this article I share tips on how to keep safe while in the park and also highlight animals and other wildlife that pose the biggest threat or danger to you while on safari that you need to be careful about.

1. Do not go off the game drive track!

This is perhaps one of the biggest causes of animal accidents in the park. Tourists are tempted to get off the drive track to get closer and get clear views of a prized animal (such as lion) that is far away from the track or is hidden behind a bush. However, you may be ambushed and cornered by another aggressive animal (such as elephant or buffalo) and it would be difficult for you to escape because of bushes in the way. The car may also get stuck in the bush tempting you to get out of the car and putting your life in danger.

2. Do not drive beyond 40km/hr

The legal speed limit anywhere in the park is 40km/hr and driving beyond that is over speeding that will put you at a risk of colliding with a large animal such as an elephant, giraffe, hippo and buffalo, the result of which is fatal. Driving beyond the speed limit also puts other smaller animals at risk and killing an animal attracts a heavy penalty.

3. Do not hoot in the park

Hooting in the park is illegal and can be risky for you as some animals are put off by noise. An agitated elephant can charge at you if it relates the sound of the hooting with a threat. Hooting will also scare other wildlife spoiling the safari experience for you and other visitors in the park.

4. Respect the 10 meter rule

It is advised the closest you should get to an animal should be not less than 10 meters. But this also depends on the behavior of the animal at that particular time. If you notice a large animal such as an elephant or buffalo  is agitated, please keep far away from it. You should also not attempt to get closer to animals with babies.

5. Do not feed the animals or eat near animals

Tourists are tempted to throw a banana or biscuit to a monkey, baboon or even elephant, but this is not advised because this causes the animals to lose their natural instinct of looking for food in the bush and in the end, they start invading people and grabbing food causing injury in the process. There are incidents when baboons have ripped faces of tourists in an attempt to grab food.

6. Do not leave the car door or hotel room open.

Scavenging animals like monkeys, baboons, warthogs are always in the vicinity looking for an opening for some free goodies. Elephants also sniff around for bananas and fruits. The most dangerous perhaps are the snakes that can easily crawl into the room without being noticed.

7. Put on a life jacket during the boat safari on the Nile.

However good a swimmer you may be, the fast-flowing waters of the Nile may be too much for you in case of a boat accident. In the last decade only one tragic incident of a boat accident has been recorded in Murchison Falls National Park, and it is remembered only those that had life jackets on survived.

8. Wear nature blending colors such as greens and browns.

Avoid bright colors. For instance, color red is seen as blood by predators and can attract an attack, while for some other animals and wildlife such as birds it signifies danger and will scare them away.

9. Do not get out of the car during safari drive in the park

Do not get out of the car except in designated places but still be on the lookout for which animals are nearby, and look where you step. Also do not wonder too far from the car.

10. Do not smoke in the park, you can easily start a fire

11. Take a professional tour guide/driver

If you can, hire a professional tour guide/driver. A professional tour guide/driver has undergone intense training about animal behavior and will know what to do in case faced with a difficult situation from an aggressive animal.

12. Take an armed park ranger/guide for the safari drive

Park rangers/guides are available in the park for hire. The park guide knows well about animal behavior and will guide on how to approach particular animals. The ranger guide also knows the best places to find certain animals of interest that will help you avoid unnecessary drive in the park that can lead you into dangerous situations.

13. Be care while at the Top of the Murchison falls

Avoid getting closer to the wet rocks and the raging water. The temptation to get a perfect selfie or video has led travelers slipping into the falls or being swept away by a gush of water!

Dangerous animals & wildlife to watch out for in Murchison Falls National Park

1. Elephants

Watch out for herds with babies. Elephants are very protective of their babies and if you aggressively get too close they will charge at you. Lone elderly elephant bulls that have been pushed out of their herds are very frustrated and easily charge when approached. But thankfully, unlike most animals, elephants will warn before attacking to give you a chance to leave. Look out for the aggressive flapping of ears as the initial sign.

2. Buffaloes

Buffaloes are sadist killers; they do not need a reason to bump you off! They are also good at ambushing from cover so never leave the car when near a bush. The most dangerous buffaloes are the lone males that have been pushed out of the herds. They are very frustrated and will look for any opportunity to vent their rage and humans are a soft target

3. Hippos

The number one killer in Africa! As long as you get close it will simply cut you into pieces with its big teeth. Thankfully they spend the hot day in water and mud pools and only come out to graze in the evening/night when the temperatures drop. Always be on the look out when walking around in the night, or do not move at all.

4. Leopard

A very stealth predator that is missed most of the time on safari. They are also quite shy and will not allow you get close before they disappear into the bushes. However, it is the most dangerous animal when it has babies (cubs)! If you ever notice a leopard with cubs, do not dare leave the car or get close. The leopard does not go for any other body part apart from the neck!

5. Lion

The king of the jungle has a reputation of being the most powerful and dangerous predator, but, on the contrary attacks by lions are very rare! Lions normally attack prey to eat of which humans are not on the menu, and also attack other predators that venture into their territory. Otherwise, being the apex predator, the lion is in most cases less concerned by presence of non-prey & non-predator near them.

6. Snakes

Snakes bites are not common and in fact during the last decade there is only one recorded fatal snake bite victim and that was a park ranger, not a tourist. However there are very many dangerous snakes in the park, especially of the highly venous mamba family, more specifically the super dangerous black mamba! Avoid walking in the bush, and scan your close environment for snakes when you walk anywhere.

7. Baboons

Baboons have turned out to be very dangerous because of getting used to being fed by tourists. They can be aggressive and attack if they have seen you with any goodies they like. Close the car windows and keep any food far away from their view and reach!

8. Tsetse flies and mosquitoes

There are tsetse flies in the southern part of the Murchison Falls National Park that is largely covered by forest and woodland. You will encounter them as you drive from the southern gate through Budongo forest and at the top of the Murchison Falls. Tsetse flies are known to cause sleeping sickness but studies have shown the ones in Murchison Falls National Park are not in sufficient number to cause sleeping sickness.  However they give such as a painful bite! Apply enough insect repellent when visiting the top of the falls. The northern savannah part of the park has no tsetse flies, but there are mosquitoes which you can protect against by applying the insect repellent and sleeping under a mosquito net.

9. Crocodiles on the Nile.

Crocodiles are very dangerous, but you can only encounter them if you fall in the Nile or get too close to the banks of the river.

10. Chimpanzees in Budongo forest

Chimpanzees are found in the Budongo forest reserve in the southern region of the park. Unless if you are doing the chimpanzee trekking activity in Budongo forest it is rare to encounter chimps. Chimpanzees are normally cruel to intruders in their territory and have been reported to rough up tourists who wandered into Budongo forest without a park ranger (the chimps know the rangers). Therefore to avoid an unpleasant encounter with chimps avoid trekking in Budongo forest without a park guide.

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