Uganda Wildlife Authority Procedures

Tracking the gorillas is not something you can just rock up and do on the day. If tracking the gorillas is a highlight of your safari in Uganda please make sure you  plan in advance to avoid disappointment.

Gorilla Permits

In recent years the number has habituated groups available for tracking have increased immensely however the demand for gorilla permits has always been high, particularly in the peak season when permits can be booked out months  in advance.
Infant gorilla

Booking Office

Bookings for all gorilla permits in Bwindi and Mgahinga are done at UWA Headquarters in Kampala or Kisoro.

Long Term Bookings

As a member of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators(AUTO) Nile River Explorers may purchase permits long term (up to two years in advance) as long as a deposit of 30% is made and the balance paid 91 days prior to the tracking date. Late top up of 70% is not permitted and deposit is forfeited without refund.

Short Term Bookings

Individual trackers can buy from Uganda Wildlife Authority three months in advance but there is no guarantee, which dates or how many per day will be available. Booking can be done on the day the booking opens, which is the first working day of the month.

Refunds / Cancellations Policy

UWA shall refund 50% of tracking fee if a visitor fails to track due to illness. A visitor shall be declared unfit to track due to illness by the Warden in Charge and this clause only applies to visitors who have made their way to BINP or MGNP.

Visitors who fail to track the gorillas (especially in MGNP) as a result of their movement to the neighboring country shall receive a full refund on their permits. However, should visitors track and fail to view the gorillas for one reason or another, 50% of the tracking fee will be refunded. All refunds shall be affected at UWA Headquarters in Kampala through the Reservations Office.

UWA Payment Terms

  • The cost of a permit is US$600
  • The acceptable payment methods are:
    Cash (Uganda Shillings, US dollars, GB Pounds, Euros),
  • Note: All US$ notes should be 2006 & above
         Bank Transfers (net of the bank charges)
UWA Tariffs

What to bring

Gorilla tracking can be a long and challenging walk, so come prepared:
  • Wear shoes with good traction, suitable to  muddy and slippery slopes.
  • Carry rain gear, as the weather is unpredictable.
  • Carry enough water and food.
  • When taking photographs, remember your subjects are black animals in dim light and  therefore use correct settings.
  • Departure time for tracking is 8.30 a.m.  If you are late, you lose your place and permit fee!

General Gorilla Rules

In order to minimize behavioral disturbance to the gorilla and the risk of exposure to human-borne disease some rules must followed:
  • Keep your voice low or be quiet.  You will see and hear more if you do.
  • Do not point or waive your arms - this can be seen as an attack.   Move slowly and if approached by a gorilla move slowly backwards to keep a 7 meter separation.   
  • Do not use a flash when taking pictures. This can frighten the gorillas and cause an attack on visitors.
  • DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
  • Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.
  • Keep a minimum of 7 meters (21 feet) from the gorillas. This is to protect them from human disease transmission.
  • You must stay in tight group when you are near the gorillas.
  • Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is OK to ask the guide questions
  • Do not eat or drink while you are near the gorillas to reduce the risk of disease transmission.
  • Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example-crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes wait for the animals to pass. Do not try and take pictures and do not attempt to run away. Running away will increase the risk of attack..
  • Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
  • The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will end the visit early.
  • After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 metres away from the gorillas.
  • Persons below the age of 15 are not permitted to track.

General Health Rules

Remember gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following are ways to minimize the risk your visit might pose to them:
  • Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
  • If you are feeling ill, or have a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternative visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
  • 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 viruses.
  • Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away form the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
  • Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are with the gorillas
  • Do not leave any rubbish (e.g. food wrappers) in the Park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
  • If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole. He will fill it when you have finished.