Gorilla trekking is almost the focal point of all safaris heading to Uganda. Being an exceptional thrilling activity, altitudes of tourists on Uganda safaris look out for them, to have that lifetime encounter with the mighty apes in the jungle, that experience that they have heard and read about.

Trekking these giants in their natural habitats is only done in four African national parks in the entire world including Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National Park of Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Nothing is as memorable as having a really up close encounter with these forest silverbacks, looking directly into the nerve-racking yet lovely eyes of these amazing jungle creatures. The excitement gorilla trekking brings is one that starts from way back at the time of knowing that you have just secured a gorilla permit on your favorable days.

However, the fact that we live in uncertainties, imagine being so eager to trek the mighty apes and then you change your mind, maybe because you have fallen sick or even other personal reasons. The only question that runs in minds of several tourists at such a moment is, “Will I be refunded back the gorilla permit fees?” Or maybe if I don’t see these apes in the forest after a very long trek all day, am I refunded?

The good news is that the answer is yes, though this depends on the scenario, different storylines bring about different percentages of refund or even not refunding at all. The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has circumstances under which it refunds a percentage of the paid fees to the clients.

Depending on the time frame in which you have cancelled in the gorilla permit, UWA refunds a given percentage on the permit fees. Permits cancelled from 0 to 8 days to the tracking date, there is totally no refund on them. From 9 t0 45 days to the tracking date, UWA refunds 25%, for 46 to 90 days, 50% is refunded, and from 91 days and above, 75% is refunded and all the remaining percentages are reserved for conservation of the gorillas and their natural habitats.

In Mgahinga national park, if tourists fail to track the only group in the park; Nyakagezi gorilla because of its random movements to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo during the tracking days are entitled to 100% refund. However trekkers who move through the jungle in hunt of the apes, and fail to see them all day long, they are refunded with 75% percent of permit fees.

At times they are given the next day to redo the trekking if they have extra time, but if not, then the only option is to refund the 75%. This also implies to Bwindi impenetrable national park, a trekker has a right to be refunded he fails to spot the gorillas after a full day of tracking. The remaining balance is kept for conservation issues.

Note that chances of seeing the mountain gorillas on a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda are 95%. Almost three quarters of the world’s remaining total population of mountain gorillas comfortably dwell in the pearl of Africa, calling it a home. So if not totally no, there are just a few scenarios where trekkers failed to spot these endangered apes in their natural habitats.

Gorilla trekking safaris are continuously attracting more tourists to the country yet the permits given out per day still remain the same. Only eight trekkers are allowed to see each gorilla group in a day, making 120 permits per day for the 15 gorilla families in Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks.

So trekkers are advised to book their gorilla permits in advance, like six months minimum, and maximum can even be two years in order to avoid last minute disappointments.


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