Cancellation and Refunding Gorilla Permit
Like any purchased commodity, buyers usually expect to cancel the purchase or get a refund if the product isn’t consumed or doesn’t work to expectation. Gorilla trekking is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that collects a good amount of excitement over a long period to build-up to the day, yet the gorilla permit is quite expensive. Therefore, assurance that you’ll get what you pay for or a refund is essential in planning a gorilla safari.
On this page, we dig into the Uganda wildlife authority’s refund and cancellation policies, the circumstances in which refunding is possible and why should you even consider cancelling or asking for a refund. But first, what does a gorilla permit mean to a gorilla trekking safari traveller and how much does it cost?
The Gorilla Permit
For a traveller to have interest in seeing the mountain gorillas, purchasing a gorilla permit before the activity is mandatory. Only Uganda wildlife authority issues the gorilla permit in Uganda. Only licensed and registered local tour operators can buy the permit on your behalf; otherwise, you too can purchase the permit at UWA’s main offices after presenting a valid identity.
Uganda wildlife authority sells the gorilla permit at $700 for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for EAC residents. Discounted gorilla permits are sold at $400 for foreign nonresidents, $300 for foreign residents and UGX 150,000 EA residents and the discounted permits can only be got during UWA’s communicated discount months. The gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 for foreign nonresidents, /$1000 for foreign residents and UGX 750,000 for EA Nationals. Only tourists above the age of 15 years can acquire a gorilla trekking permit.
A gorilla trekking permit comes with armed security escorts, a knowledgeable guide, rangers and one hour with a single gorilla family. A gorilla habituation permit gives you up to four hours with a semi-habituated gorilla family.
With the help of the ranger guide from Uganda Wildlife Authority, you will start your trek from one of the trailheads in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga and track one of the assigned gorilla groups. Only eight tourists are allowed to trek a single gorilla group on a daily basis.
What is the chance of seeing mountain gorillas?
Your chance of having a glimpse of the mountain gorillas is 98% because the trekking exercise has been perfected over time to ensure that everyone who pays for the gorilla trekking activity sees the gorillas.
In addition to that, Uganda has more than half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas, with 20 gorilla families available for tourism. Five trailheads spread over the two national parks provide easy access to all the habituated gorilla groups.
Also, every morning, trekkers wake up and move beforehand to establish where these gorillas slept the previous year. As the clients are briefed on gorilla trekking rules and regulations at the trailhead, the advance team communicates with your ranger guide about the current position of the primates and how to reach them.
So, following the trekker’s advice, you will start from the trailhead and your ranger guide will guide you to where the gorillas would have spent the previous night and then follow their path to where they will be.
However, sometimes situations might dictate, and you are unable to view them. It could be that maybe the family is frightened or inflamed after a late-night attack from another gorilla family, most likely an unhabituated silverback. That could make the gorilla too perturbed to entertain visitors.
In other situations, the gorillas may move a long distance far away from the trailhead or hide from trackers for the reasons best known to them. Such cases may not favors gorilla trekking for that day.
In respect to all that, UWA has set terms and conditions to reschedule or refund your gorilla permit if you don’t see the mountain gorillas. Have a word with any of our consultants to take you through the terms and conditions to help you avoid disappointments on your dream trip.
Gorilla Permit Cancellation and Refunds
Except as provided in the terms written below, money paid for gorilla permits is nonrefundable by UWA. Upon receiving a written request, the Executive Director may authorize cancellation of a fully paid permit on the following terms:
Failure to view Gorillas/Chimpanzees
When the tourist goes to the forest and fails to see gorillas after tracking for almost the whole day, the Executive Director may authorize rescheduling of the permit to the following day subject to slots availability.
In case there is no availability of gorilla permits on the dates they intend to reschedule the permit, the Executive Director authorizes the cancellation of the permit and a refund of 50% of the permit value upon confirmation of the inability to access gorillas by the respective in charge warden.
Illness and accidents
UWA will prohibit a visitor who may develop symptoms of illness before gorilla tracking starts from visiting the gorillas. That tourist will therefore be referred to the nearest health facility to ascertain the extent of his sickness and inability to track gorillas.
The medical report has to confirm the illness, and the guest will incur the diagnosis costs.
Then, the Executive Director will authorize the cancellation of the permit and process a refund of 50% of the gorilla permit value to a visitor declared unfit to track gorillas because of illness.
The above cancellation policy only applies to visitors already in the Park to track gorillas and develops symptoms of illness before tracking.
The Executive Director can authorize the cancellation of a permit and process a 50% refund to a client who fails to track gorillas due to an accident sustained in the Park before tracking.
Gorilla Permit double payments.
Upon receipt of a written request, the Executive Director can authorize the refund of 100% to a client that presents evidence of double payment or any payment over and above the prevailing permit value payment.
The Executive Director may also authorize utilization of any funds confirmed as a double payment or over payment to another tourism activity.
The Executive Director may authorize the cancellation of a permit for other reasons, other than those specified above on the following conditions;
Any request for cancellation within eight (8) days to the tracking date shall attract no refunds.
A client requesting cancellation of a permit between nine (09) to forty-five (45) days to the tracking date shall be entitled to 25% of the permit value.
A client requesting cancellation of a permit between forty-six (46) to ninety (90) days to the tracking date shall be entitled to 50% of the permit value.
A client requesting cancellation of a permit ninety-one (91) days and more to the tracking date shall be entitled to 75% of the permit value.
All requests for cancellation of permits shall be made in writing and addressed to the Executive Director, Uganda Wildlife Authority.
While considering any request for cancellation of a permit, the Executive Director can consider the date of receipt of the request as the date of cancellation for purposes of determining the refund.
What can Active African Vacations do for you?
At Active African Vacations, refunding a gorilla permit depends on several factors. For Active African Vacations to confirm any gorilla tour, we request the client to deposit the total amount for the gorilla permit and 30% of the total amount charged for the safari.
We deposit 30% to Uganda Wildlife Authority to secure your gorilla permit and this is done in advance. Then we clear the remaining 70% four months before the actual trekking date.
Uganda Wildlife Authority requires the total amount, which is non-refundable for three months to trekking. So, we can only refund 70% if you contact us before it is submitted to UWA as above. But if we have already paid the entire amount to UWA, then there will be no refund.
We try to resell these gorilla permits booked by our clients just in case they don’t use them, and once we are successful, we will send you the money from reselling. Kindly note that this is not a sure way and depends on luck. Luck is high more especially during peak season.
Booking a Gorilla Trekking Safari
Active African Vacations team understands clearly the gorilla permit refund and cancellation policies because of dealing with the permit booking process every day for more than 20 years. For a first-time tourist or tour agent, booking a permit seems cumbersome to deal with, especially in this new online era.
Don’t sweat with the bureaucratic process when you have us. The government of Uganda licenses us to process gorilla permits on your behalf, following UWA’s standard procedures. Allow us to deal with the process so that you can enjoy your gorilla trekking adventure.