Mountain gorilla tracking is an exceptional activity that every tourist to Uganda always looks out for, because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity that can only take place within four national parks in the entire world, including Bwindi Impenetrable National Park of Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Mgahinga National Park of Uganda.
There is nothing as remarkable as looking eyeball to eyeball with these captivating creatures which makes them to be highly demanded worldwide. The excitement of this activity starts from the time you confirm that there are gorilla permits available for the date you intend to track these Giant Apes, through the time you obtain your gorilla tracking permit, the time you jet into Uganda for the activity to the time you finally get to meet the mountain gorillas. Imagine yourself being ready for the activity then you happen to change your mind (maybe because you are sick or other personal reasons) not to visit Uganda for gorilla tracking, what would happen to your gorilla permit? This is the question that almost everyone would ask him or herself. The good news is that Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA, the wildlife governing body and in charge of selling gorilla permits) can be able to refund your money back depending on the number of days you want to cancel before the actual tracking date. If you fail to track due to illnesses, UWA shall refund at least 50% of your money at the recommendation of the warden in Charge who has to ascertain that you are sick and this policy only applies for tourists tracking from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National park.
For the case of Mgahinga National park, if you fail to track because the Nyakagezi gorilla family (the only gorilla family in the Park) has moved to the neighboring countries of Rwanda and DRC, you are entitled to a 100% refund of your money from UWA. Nonetheless, tourists who track the entire day but fail to find the Habituated Mountain gorilla group for one reason or another, they shall be refunded at least 75% of the gorilla tracking fee, effected through UWA headquarters in Kampala.
In case you are intending to cancel your gorilla tracking permit, the Uganda Wildlife Authority retains the following percentages of the gorilla tracking fees
- If you cancel from 0 to 8 days to the gorilla tracking date, you shall not be refunded anything by UWA.
- For cancellation from 4 to 45 days to the tracking date, UWA shall retain 75% of the tracking fee and refund only 25 % to the tourist.
- If you are intending to cancel the activity from between 46 and 90 days to the scheduled tracking Date, you will be refunded 50% of the total tracking fee and UWA shall retain the remaining 50%.
- Cancellation from 91 days and above call for a 75% refund and UWA retains just 25% of the gorilla tracking fee paid. Tourists should note that this only applies to tourists who have paid the entire gorilla tracking fees because the deposits are not refundable.
Gorilla trekking has continuously become a competitive activity yet the number of gorilla permits sold per day are not increased. Can you imagine that only 96 gorilla permits (88 permits for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and 8 permits only for Mgahinga National park) are sold in Uganda per day? This sets in a lot of competition for gorilla permits; hence tourists are advised to book for permits at least 6 months in advance before the tracking date. The 6 months reservation is the short term while the long term reservation can be up to 2 years before the tracking date. All tourists need to do is to pay at least a 30% deposit at the time of reservation, and the balance be cleared at least 91 days before the gorilla tracking date. If tourists fail to pay within the required 91 days, the reservation will be automatically released without any refund.
The above mentioned gorilla cancellation policy is only effected by UWA and not the tour operators who sell gorilla safaris also have their own safari cancellation policies where you will be charged for the administrative fees (in case you booked for the permits through a tour operator)
In conclusion, if you book for a gorilla permit but would wish to cancel it because of sickness or other personal reasons, you deserve to be refunded your money by UWA depending on the number of days to the tracking date.