A Gorilla permit is your park ticket to visiting the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda or the DRC at peacetime. Gorilla permits in Rwanda are one of the most sought for park tickets as mountain gorillas trekking attracts thousands of visitors across the world. Owing to the fact that Rwanda is where Dian Fossey based her research of mountain gorillas, it is a positive statement to say it is the origin of mountain gorilla tracking which also explains the high number of visitors seeking to trek the gorillas in Rwanda.
The demand for gorilla permits is overrun by the supply each year, only eight permits are available for a single gorilla family, and with 7 habituated gorilla families in Rwanda, permits are limited to 56 tickets per day. It is important to note permits tend to be lesser over the season as one or two families can take a trip to bordering Congo or Uganda as these apes are not governed by international bodies and so most of them share origin across borders. Acquisition of gorilla permits and the trekking itself is eligible to visitors that are 15 years and older.
As of 2022, a gorilla permit in Rwanda costs USD 1,500, this fee includes the guided trek to spend one hour with the gorillas and the park entrance fee. Much as this price is expensive, buying a gorilla permit in Rwanda is a way to make your contribution to the conservation of this endangered species.
A Rwanda gorilla permit is acquired from the ORTPN office in Kigali or through a tour operator in Rwanda. Booking a permit should be done in advance as the tickets run out as early as 3 months to their tracking date so there is no guarantee of availability for a specific date unless booked in advance of 3 months or earlier. The rainy months of April to May are least tracked which increases the likeliness of availability on short notice, late minute bookings can prevail during this time of the year. The peak season months from June to September and the Christmas period are the most tracked months, booking your permits in advance of a year to six months at least will do you a huge favor. Nevertheless, in the event of a late booking, you could still check with the ORTPN office for availability. It is common that some booked visitors have canceled their plans or postponed which creates free spots over time.
For independent travelers seeking a last-minute trek, ensure to confirm the availability of permits an afternoon before the trekking date at the ORPTN office in Kiningi. Trackers are expected as early as 7:00 am at The park headquarters on the trekking date for pre-trek briefing and later to trek. It is also important to note that unlike the neighbor’s gorilla trekking permit in Uganda, permits in Rwanda are not specified to a certain gorilla family but rather allocation is done on the morning of the trek based on your personal preferences and physical ability, ensure to arrive early to have a chat with the Rangers. Some gorilla families are harder to find over tougher hikes than others.