Uganda Low Season Gorilla Permits Abolished

Linda Fox

12 Oct 2017

Reduced price permits only available for november 2017

One of Africa's major highlights, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda is home to approximately half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are a success story of conservation and tourism working together; in order to trek to see the gorillas you need a permit. A percentage of the revenue generated is used to benefit communities living near the park, funding community uplift programmes and empowering them economically. 

Now a financially valuable asset, mountain gorilla numbers are slowly increasing.

Up till now, April, May and November have been the only times that you could secure a discounted gorilla trekking permit in Uganda. Due to it being low season, they are priced at $450 per person for each trek, down from $600; across the border in Rwanda you’ll pay $1500 for a permit. However this year is the last time you will be able to take advantage of this reduced permit price, as the concept of low season is being abolished for a year round flat rate.

Low season has become a misconception in recent years. Yes, it might be wetter in November but this is compensated by clear conditions without the haze of the dryer months, and the cloud cover makes for preferable light conditions.  Photographers will be well aware of the challenge of photographing very dark objects in bright light conditions.

One of the questions I am most frequently asked is whether Rwanda provides a better experience than Uganda; especially given the high costs of permits. It’s certainly slicker, with tarred roads and modernised services. However, logistics in Uganda have improved – with scheduled daily flights between Entebbe and the Bwindi area catering to the short-on-time luxury traveller looking for a fly-in safari, while there is plenty for those who want to see more. From Bwindi you can travel north through Queen Elizabeth National Park, famous for its tree climbing lions and Kazinga Channel boat cruises, before heading further north towards the Rwenzori Mountains and chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest.

Uganda offers a rawer, authentic into Africa feel. The trekking can be harder as there are fewer habituated groups; my trek to find them was a six hour round trip through the mountainous jungle. Equally I’ve had clients find them within half an hour of setting off. With the forest in Uganda opening onto farmers’ fields, the sightings can sometimes be in more open clearings. 

The contiguous parks of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo harbour all 880-odd remaining members of this critically endangered species, and I’ve been fortunate enough to trek the gorillas in all three destinations. It is perhaps my encounter with a cheeky blackback in Uganda that is my most memorable; after all, who can forget being slapped by a gorilla.  While there are strict regulations on how close you can get to the gorillas, nobody had told this particular male as he leapt from the undergrowth and gave me a playful slap around the legs and then pausing as if to say, “Tag, you’re it"!
 

With increased demand for gorilla permits in Uganda thanks to the price increase in Rwanda it can be hard to secure your permit, but we still have access to some at the discounted low season price of $450 this November. 

I guarantee it will be one of the best encounters you can have in the world.

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