Discover Gorilla tracking in Uganda-Rwanda – Biwindi forest and Volcanoes National park
Which Gorilla country provides the best adventure of Mountain Gorilla tracking? Discover Gorilla Tracking in Uganda vs. Rwanda would require you to look at the cost, safety, degree of hiking, availability and so on.
It may be unfair comparing Gorilla trekking in Uganda to Rwanda since Uganda has wildlife in Savannah parks and many more activities to offer other than Rwanda where combining a savannah safari with Gorilla tracking may not come as a simple choice.
Uganda safaris take the first point on this comparison. However, we will provide you with all the highlights and lowlights to help you make the choice that fits your interest time and budget.
About Mountain Gorillas
Mountain Gorillas are generally divided into mountain and lowland Gorillas. The lowland Gorillas are smaller and have brownish-grey far coats and a distinct brow ridge, whereas the Mountain Gorillas are larger with darker black coats.
There are more than 100,000 lowland Gorillas but on the contrary Mountain Gorillas are endangered and are about 1080 left in the whole world today.
Where to trek Mountain Gorillas?
Mountain Gorillas are distributed in two regions around the Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo border. In Uganda Mountain Gorillas can be found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks. In Rwanda, the Mountain Gorillas are only in the Volcanoes National Park while in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mountain Gorillas are found in the Virunga National Park.
Aggressiveness of the Gorillas
Discover gorilla tracking in Uganda – Trekking Mountain Gorillas is not a dangerous activity. Most of the Gorilla families available for tourism in these wild jungles are habituated by experts to avoid dangerous encounters with humans. These Mountain Gorillas seem very dominant and very strong when seen but are really shy to aliens in their habitat and will only attack to protect their own when they feel threatened.
You’re always advised to take great precaution not to threaten them when you meet them. Depending on where the Gorilla family is located, one could trek the Gorillas from 1 to 8 kilometres over very steep inclines and muddy terrain in some instance.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO hosting more than 550 Mountain Gorillas. 18 habituated Mountain Gorilla families are open to tourism in four different regions of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo all under the management of Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park sits on higher altitudes between 2,227m and 4,127m. It is home to one habituated Gorilla family called Nyakagezi Gorilla family which some time back used to be a nomadic family was known to cross the border into Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Uganda Gorilla permits cost USD 700 per person per trek
There are special resident and foreign resident rates.
20% of the permit revenue goes to community development.
Bwindi Forest hosts more than 550 of the 1080 endangered Mountain Gorillas.
There are many more wildlife, birdlife and exciting activities offered in Uganda
Permits are readily available.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks are easily accessible when you fly in through Kigali, only 3 hours’ drive, the same as driving to Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. Alternatively, you can book a scheduled chattered local flight from Entebbe International Airport to Kisoro or Kihihi Airfields.
You can combine Gorilla trekking and golden monkey trekking when in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
There is variety of breath-taking accommodation facilities near or around the park catering for budget, middle and luxury class.
You can enjoy Gorilla Habituation for the up to 4 hours at only USD1500 per person per trek.
There is beautiful scenery to enjoy including lakes, plateau, and Mountains.
Communication is easier with English commonly spoken.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National parks are all recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Lowlights of Uganda:
Driving distance from Entebbe International Airport is about 8-9 hours, which is relatively long for new Africa Safari travel entrants. However, there are local chartered flights to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest from Entebbe International Airport or you can land at Kigali Airport and drive 3 hours crossing the border into Uganda.
Bwindi Forest is remote and some roads are not accessible. You may also find traffic lights in towns that don’t work.
There is no Gorilla baby naming ceremony.
The vegetation is dense and may be challenging getting clearer photos in Bwindi Forest.
Local flights tend to be expensive.
There is no Umuganda Day designated for cleaning the streets and country.
There is no elaborate park office but have many park offices and starting points that confuse some people.
Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda
Rwanda Gorilla trekking is done in Volcanoes National Park which is only 3 hours’ drive from Kigali International Airport. There are 10 habituated Gorilla families that can be visited, limited to only 8 people per family per day. Your Rwanda Gorilla permit buys you 1 hour with the Gorillas.
Highlights of Rwanda:
The driving distance of 3 hours from the Airport is shorter than Uganda’s 9 hours.
The vegetation is not dense and one can get clearer photographs.
The roads are good and easily accessible and in good condition.
There is Golden monkey trekking offered.
They have baby naming ceremonies once a year.
It is very clean with everyone participating in the Umuganda day.
They have one elaborate park office.
You can hike the volcanoes.
There are 10 habituated families.
They offer add-ons with welcoming refreshments and cultural dance.
Lowlights of Rwanda:
Gorilla permits are expensive at USD1500 compared to Uganda’s USD700 per person per trek.
There are no special rates for residents; all are required to pay USD1500.
There is not much to offer, Rwanda has only one savannah (Akagera National Park).
There are few accommodation facilities and the ones available in the parks are quite expensive catering only for the luxury class.
Only 10% of the permit revenue is given to community development.
Communication is a challenge with many locals speaking French and Kinyarwanda.
The permits are limited to only 80 permits a day in the 10 groups.
They do not offer Gorilla habituation experience like in Uganda.
The elevation involves hiking the volcano making trekking difficult.