Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How To Book 2017 Gorilla tracking and Trek Permits in Uganda

Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi, Uganda
How to book 2017 gorilla tracking and trek permits for for your tour in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – Quick step illustration of how you can buy the gorilla permit for your trek this year

  In Uganda, Gorilla tracking is done in either Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. However, because of the unreliability of the mountain gorillas of Mgahinga, most of the gorilla permits sold are for Bwindi. Each gorilla permit costs US$600 in Uganda and ( $450 for November 2017.

On each particular day, about 80 persons can visit Bwindi gorillas, 10 persons per each gorilla family.

Gorilla Permits for both Bwindi can only be purchased from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA’s) headquarters in Kampala, either directly or through a tour agent.

Booking 2017 Gorilla Permits directly through UWA
To book your gorilla permit (from out of Uganda) you first have to contact UWA’s reservation office by email inquiring about availability of the dates you intend to track the gorillas. Note that you need to consider a full day of travel from Kampala to Bwindi after you have landed in Kampala. 
If the exact dates you want are unavailable, you can request UWA 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 UWA.

The transfer should usually take not more than 3 days and UWA will keep your tentative booking for at least 7 days as they await the transfer to go through. Please ensure that you instruct you bank to deduct the bank charges from you. Otherwise is the money sent is less, your permit may not be booked. 

Booking 2017 Gorilla Permits through a Tour and travel agent

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 Uganda tour operator. The tour operators will usually charge a fee of US$25-$60 per gorilla permit. Gorillas and wildlife safaris will not charge you for buying gorilla permits if you are getting other tour services (like transfers and tours) through them but if you only would like us to help you acquire the gorilla permit alone, a maximum of $35 applies on each gorilla permit we book. 

The procedure is almost similar as above, except that the tour agencies tend to speed-up the process and most likely you will get you gorilla permit confirmation faster. 

1. Contact us   and let us know of the dates you want to tour Uganda with the days you want to see the gorilla permits
2. We let you if the days you want for your gorilla tour are available for gorilla tracking and tentatively book them for you (but with no guarantee).
3. We send you our bank details for you to send the money for gorilla permits.
4. It takes about 16 hours for us to receive the money from your bank and pay for your permits. We shall send you acknowledgement for the money and the official Uganda Wildlife Authority Receipt  (by scan and email). Please ensure you pay the bank charges when authorizing the transaction.
We do not charge any fee for gorilla permits buying/booking if you are booking the rest of the tour (or a part of it) with us. In case we do charge, this is to cater for any costs like telephony, transport, etc we incur to get you the permit.
5. Send us your passport details to register your gorilla permits. Usually, we only need the Full names, passport number, and nationality.

6. We register your names and get the gorilla permits. We send you scanned copies of your gorilla permit.
As soon as the payment has been received, the permits for gorilla tracking be purchased. Getting a gorilla permit is not a guarantee of seeing a gorilla. However, the chances of seeing them are 98%. 

However, Uganda tour operators through their umbrella association (AUTO) almost buy up to 80% of the available tracking permits at up to 2 years out from the intended month of tracking. Each member may purchase up to 20 permits in any month. A deposit of 30% (US$75-) is payable on each permit booked with the balance needing to be paid 3 months (91 days) from the month of tracking by the first working day of the month Monday-Friday.
Individuals and non members of AUTO can purchase a maximum of 2 permits each in the month 3 months prior to the intended month of trekking when the booking opens on the first working Monday-Friday of the month. Permits not sold on the day the booking opens will be 
sold on the following day with no limits put on the number of permits purchased by an individual or tour operator.

Related articles: 

Trekking Tour Packages in Rwanda and Uganda

Call us from overseas in Uganda 256-772-979-425. This is available all the time. For Pricing and itineraries, please use our contact page link just above.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Planning a gorilla trek in Uganda, what to consider – How to plan your 2017 gorilla tracking program, transport to Bwindi, accommodation, how to book the gorilla permits, cost of the gorilla tour.

Planning a perfect 2017 gorilla trek in Uganda, what to consider – planning your program, transport to Bwindi, accommodation, how to book the gorilla permits, cost of the gorilla tour, booking gorilla permits for 2017.
In Uganda, Gorilla tracking can only either be done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. However, the mountain gorilla family in Mgahinga (Kahungye group) is very mobile crisscrossing borders into Rwanda and this literary leaves Bwindi to be the only place to reliably track the mountain gorillas in Uganda.
Mountain Gorilla Resting in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

To track gorillas you must have a pre-booked gorilla tracking permit (each costs US$600 but are specially discounted in November 2017 to $450) . Since the gorilla parks are located far away from the airport you arrive from you will need transport (4x4 advisable) to reach the park. The drive from Kampala/ Entebbe to Bwindi takes about 9 hours. This means that if you are tracking gorillas in Uganda you will need at least 3 days to the gorilla trek: One day travelling to the park, another day tracking the gorilla, and the third day driving back to Kampala/ Entebbe.
To book your gorilla permit, you will need to either contact the relevant country agency to book the gorilla permit (Uganda Wildlife Authority for Uganda) or book the permits through a local tour agency like us. Please note that gorilla permits are only confirmed by paying for them in full. So, you will need to send money for the permits in full to get your confirmation ad ensure that you take care of the bank charges involved to avoid disappointment.
If you are hoping to travel in July and August 2017, be aware that most days are actually sold out and you may not be able to get the gorilla permit for the days period you wish to travel. There are however some gorilla permits cancellations. These permits are not at the Uganda Wildlife Authority but with local tour agents. We can assist our clients to get such permits when contacted.
However, for the rest of  2017, there are still plenty of spaces so you can confidently contact us now to book your space there.
If you arrange the gorilla permit on your own, please ensure that you pick it from the booking office in Kampala before travelling to Bwindi. You must present your gorilla permit and passport on the gorilla tracking day to be allowed on the gorilla trek. In case your permit is booked through a tour agent and you are taking the tour with them you may not necessarily need to think about getting the permit from them but if you are not taking the full gorilla tour with them, consider getting your permit before travelling to Bwindi.
Planning your Transport to the Gorilla Trek in Rwanda and Uganda:
You will definitely require a 4x4 vehicle to go to the gorilla in Bwindi. You need a 4x4 vehicle to navigate the rough pot-holed roads which often get tourists stuck for hours during rainy seasons. You may be able to hire a vehicle for US$100 per day excluding the fuel but including the driver costs. In Uganda’s case, Gorillas and Wildlife Safaris offers transfers for US$510 for the 3 days (including vehicle, fuel, driver allowances for 3 days tour).
Alternatively you may take public buses to a nearby town but you will definitely have to find a cab (preferably 4x4 and usually costs $100 a day without gas fuel) to ferry you to the gorilla trek trail start an back to your hotel.
You need to report to the park registration office at 7:30AM. So whatever method you choose, make sure that it is reliable  - if you don’t turn up at the appointed time you risk invalidating your gorilla tracking permit and having to pay again.
The gorilla tracking time is very unpredictable and you may as well take the entire day. So have your accommodation booked for the night after your trek as well. For this same reason also have with you a packed lunch for the day, plenty of drinking water, rainproof clothing (you are trekking through a rainforest and any day it can rain).
Planning Your Accommodation during your Gorilla Trek tour
In Uganda, the accommodation you choose will depend on the gorilla permit you book being that the available 11 gorilla families that tourists visit in Bwindi range over a wide area. Please have a look at the page GorillaTourAccommodationLodgesHotelsCampsitesUganda.htm for more details about which accommodation you will need to book for each different gorilla family in Bwindi.
Hiring Porters and Walking Sticks for the Gorilla Trek
Usually there are porters for hire (at $15 each) at the park offices and walking sticks (at $5). Do not overestimate your strength; you may certainly need either or both of these. So put it in high consideration to hire one. Besides, it’s another way of giving back to the communities.
Joining your gorilla trek with other tours/ excursions
Uganda offers a variety of tours you can join onto your gorilla trek. You can choose to do these safari excursions before or after the gorilla trek. Here are a couple of the many tour options that combine gorilla treks with amazing wildlife and scenery viewing.

3 days Uganda Gorilla tour
4 days Rwanda Gorilla Tour - 
2 days Gorilla tracking Rwanda with tour price
3 day Gorilla tracking Rwanda with tour price
5 days Gorillas trek Rwanda and Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda
5 days Rwanda, Uganda Gorillas
6 days gorilla tracking, wildlife safari
14 daysUganda Rwanda Safari 
7 days Uganda Gorilla Safaris
9 days Gorillas, primates wildlife 
8 days Uganda Gorilla Game safari

7 days Gorillas, chimpanzee, wildlife - 

Monday, May 22, 2017

How to Get/ Travel to Kibale National Park for Chimps tracking and Bigodi

Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. Forest cover interspersed by patches of grassland and swamp, dominates the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau. The park ins home to a total of 60 mammal species, most famously the 13 species of primates including the chimpanzee. It also contains over 375 species of birds. Kibale adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park to the south to create a 180-km long corridor for wildlife between Ishasha, the remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, as Sebitoli in the north of Kibale.

How to Get/ Travel to Kibale National Park for Chimps tracking
Kibale National Park is located in western Uganda, 26km southeast of Fort Portal town. Kanyanchu River Camp, the primary center for tourism activities, can be reached from Kampala either from the north, via Mubende and Fort Portal, or from the south through Mbarara and Kamwenge.
The northern approach is shorter and quicker, with a 300km tarmac road running to Fort Portal followed by 36km of gravel to Kanyanchu. From Kampala there are several buses doing daily trips to Fort Portal town. These are however unreliable and frequently breakdown or have accidents along the way. They are therefore not highly recommended.
Kibale Forest National Park is most normally approached from Fort Portal using the Kamwenge road. If your are driving from Fort Portal town centre, follow Lugard Road north for about 1km. immediately before the bridge across the Mpanga River, turn right. You know you’re on the right road when after about 500m you pass a hospital to your right (with signposts reading ‘blood bank’ and ‘canteen’ perched in intriguingly close proximity). About 12km out of Fort Portal, you reach a major junction, where you need to fork left (the right fork, incidentally, leads to Lake Nkurumba and Ndali Lodge in the heart of Kabarole Crater Lake Field). After another 8.5km you pass the signpost for the Rweetera Tourism Society Camping Site and then 2.5km later Crater Valley Resort, from where it is another 12km to Kanyanchu Campsite and a further 5km to Bigodi.
Public transport to Kanyanchu used to be restricted to two or three dangerously overloaded pick-up trucks running daily between Kamwenge and Fort Portal. These have been recently supplemented by more regular mini-bus taxis, which run back and forth between Bigodi and Fort Portal throughout the day and are far more comfortable and safer than the trucks. Tourists are routinely overwhelmed by the taxi touts, so it’s advisable to check what local passengers are paying. There is normally no transport on Sunday.
A little used alternative route to Kibale Forest National Park runs north from Mbarara via Ibanda and Kamwenge. North Ibanda the road is unsurfaced but mostly in pretty good condition, and with a private vehicle it should take about 3 hours. Using public transport you will probably have to change vehicles in Ibanda and Kamwenge and may well have to overnight at one or other town – both posses a few cheap guesthouses. You can easily pick up transport from Kamwenge to Fort Portal via Kanyanchu. If you are heading this way, you might want to investigate the Mpanga Falls and nearby cycad fields between Kamwenge and Ibanda.

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