Gorilla trekking is one of the most remarkable wildlife adventures only done deep in Africa’s high altitude forest jungles of Central and East Africa. The last species of surviving mountain gorillas in the whole world can be traced in Uganda, Rwanda and The Democratic Republic of Congo from which travelers go to visit gorillas in their natural habitant. Today there are different controversies as to which gorilla destination – gorilla in Uganda or gorillas in Rwanda offers the best trekking experience. Uganda comprises of two gorilla national parks of Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga national park which is part of the Virunga conservation region shared by other gorilla destinations of Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park and Congo’s Virunga national parks. A comparison of the gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda and Uganda clearly depends on each individual perspective as all these destinations are unique and definitely offer different experiences. Discussed below are some of the differences between the encounters in Rwanda and Uganda.
Who has more mountain gorillas
According to the most recent gorilla census of 2014, there are over 880 mountain gorillas living in Africa, with Bwindi impenetrable forest comprising half of this entire gorilla population. Today Bwinde is home to over 500 individual mountain gorillas, distributed in 11 habituated gorilla groups, with 2 other gorilla gorilla groups undergoing habituation process and open to visitors. Hence all in all Bwindi comprises of 13 gorilla families open for tracking every day. Mgahinga national park is another Uganda gorilla destination with a single habituated gorilla group hence Uganda all together has a grand total of 14 habituated mountain gorilla families open for visiting all year round
On the other hand, Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park comprises of 10 habituated gorilla families open to visitors all year round.
Therefore with Uganda having larger number of gorilla families available for visitors to trek, Uganda offers a guarantee of more gorilla permit availability as compared to Rwanda.
Time to Reach Gorilla Destination
Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park is strategically located just two hours drive from the Kigali international airport and Kigali city. This is quite convenient for all types of travelers including budget and business travelers are on limited time and money. In Volcanoes national park, visitors are able to visit gorillas on a 1 day tour plan to cut on costs, and be able to drive back to Kigali that same day.
In addition, Volcanoes being just two hours from the Kigali city center makes it accessible even when using public transport means to cut on travel costs.
On the other hand, Bwindi national park and Mgahinga national parks are situated 8 – 9 hours drive from Kampala or Entebbe international airport. This is quite exhausting spending the entire day driving to Bwindi national park. Although its argued that its an interesting journey colored with stop overs and beautiful views all the way to south western Uganda, its still quite exhausting and yet the client will be hiking the following day.
Price of Gorilla Permit / Pass
Gorilla Permits in both Rwanda and Uganda can be acquired from government bodies of the respective countries. In Uganda a gorilla permit goes for $600 during the pick seasons and $450 during the low seasons.
On the other hand Rwanda’s gorilla permit goes for $750 all year round.
Therefore, Uganda offers a cheaper gorilla permit and further disc outs it during the low seasons. However, a number of clients urge that, they would rather go for a Rwanda gorilla permit because of the convenience it come with.
Gorilla Group Allocation
Trekking for gorillas in Rwanda gives visitors a chance to choose a gorilla group to visit. In Rwanda treks to Gorilla families are distributed into hard, medium and simple trekking. Visitors can choose which trek to go for depending on their physical abilities.
On the other hand, Uganda gorilla permits are purchased with their gorilla groups relabeled on the grill a permit. Your gorilla group is set as you buy your permit.
Bwindi impenetrable forest is referred to an an impenetrable forest for a good reason. Its a thick rain forest with a lot of undergrowth with trees. The forest is generally thick and hence penetration into the forest is a typical jungle experience and quite rewarding for travelers looking for a real amazon experience.
On the other hand, Volcanoes national park is a bamboo forest with not so much undergrowth and hence hiking not as strenuous as it in in Bwindi national park