Gorilla Trekking Uganda Vs Rwanda is basically a comparison of the two experiences of trekking these endangered primate species in Bwindi & Mgahinga national parks for Uganda & Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Encountering mountain gorillas in the wild, more so very up close and on foot in the jungles of Rwanda and Uganda, is one breathtaking and unforgettable experience for tourists that have been fortunate enough to do a gorilla trekking safari in any of those countries. Mountain gorillas are only found in three countries in Africa, that is Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, all of which provide gorilla trekking safaris and have a number of habituated mountain gorillas for the same. Though these mountain gorillas may look very dominant and strong, they are gentle and very shy to humans in their homes and can only charge to protect themselves if they feel threatened.
For tourists still on the planning stage of their safari and would so much love to experience a gorilla trekking safari in Africa, choosing the best country to embark on a gorilla trekking safari can prove to be difficult. For those travelers that are torn between gorilla trekking in Uganda Vs Rwanda and which to choose, find below some of the pros and cons of gorilla trekking in each country to help you with your decision;
Mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda
Mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda takes place in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks with about 20 gorilla families fully habituated and open for tracking to tourists and more yet to introduced. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park alone has more than half of the total mountain gorilla population in the world and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bwindi has four different sectors of Buhoma, Nkuringo, Rushaga, and Ruhija than tourists can track from. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park on the other side has only one habituated gorilla group, with the recently migrated Hirwa group from Rwanda, that lives in the park’s high altitudes that range from 2227 meters to 4127 meters above sea level.
The Pros of Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
- Uganda has more mountain gorillas. Bwindi alone has more than 400 of the 1000 mountain gorillas in the whole world.
- There are more habituated mountain gorilla groups in Uganda with about 20 of them in total
- Gorilla permits in Uganda cost only $700 starting from June 2020
- There are special rates for residents and the East African citizens of $600 and ugx250,000 respectively.
- Some revenue, 20%, from these gorilla permits goes back to the communities for community development
- Gorilla tracking permits are readily available as there are more gorillas and habituated gorilla families/groups
- Both Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks are recognized as UNESCO world heritage sites.
- Uganda has good English speaking guides that will share with you all that they know and you may wish to know.
- Uganda has gorilla habituation to offer to tourists, which takes 4 long hours with a gorilla group at a cost only $1,500 (which is Rwanda’s gorilla trekking fee for only one hour)
- Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks can both be easily accessed when one flies from Entebbe to Kihihi or Kisoro, and also if they fly into Kigali and transfer for only about 4 hours on the road to the park headquarters of both parks which is the same drive time from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda.
- There are various accommodation facilities that range from super luxury to basic both within and near the park.
- Uganda has beautiful scenery like lakes and small rivers, mountains and beautiful landscapes that give great views.
- Golden monkey tracking can be added to gorilla trekking when in Mgahinga in particular.
- Uganda has many more attractions to offer, with 10 national parks and many more game reserves and sites. Be sure to see the big 5 in Uganda and a typical African safari.
The cons of Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
- The driving distance from Kampala or Entebbe to both Bwindi and Mgahinga can be very long with up to 8 hours of driving. The drive, however, provides good sceneries and the stops are made whenever necessary that tourists seldom find the distance so long. Chartered flights are also available for booking from Entebbe and Kampala or tourists can fly into Kigali and transfer by road for only 4 hours maximum to both Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks.
- Some roads in Bwindi are quite hard to use, 4WD vehicles are however recommended.
- Vegetation cover in Bwindi particularly is really dense that taking proper pictures is quite challenging
- Local chartered flights are quite expensive and don’t cater for budget travelers.
- There is no elaborate park office, the different park offices and starting points for gorilla trekking are confusing to some travelers, mostly those on self-drive.
- Uganda does not offer add-on services like refreshments and cultural performances offered at the park offices.
- Uganda doesn’t have a baby gorilla naming ceremony in place.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda takes place in Volcanoes National Park. The park has 10 habituated mountain gorilla families that tourists can track. Only 8 people per gorilla group can track per day, and one gorilla permit allows only one trek where you get to be with the mountain gorillas for only one hour.
The Pros of Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
- The driving distance from Kigali International Airport is only 3 hours compared to the 8 hours of Uganda
- The roads to Volcanoes National Park are more accessible and are in good condition
- There is one elaborate park office that travelers do not get confused
- There are ten habituated gorilla families that travelers can track
- Add-ons are offered, say welcoming refreshment, usually coffee and a cultural dance
- Rwanda has a baby gorilla naming ceremony that many look forward to
- Golden monkey tracking can also be added on a gorilla tracking safari in Rwanda
The Cons of Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
- Gorilla trekking permits are expensive, $1,500 compared to Uganda’s $700 only
- No special rates are provided for residents or even the citizens
- Only 10% of the revenue collected is given back to the local communities
- Only 80 permits per day are available to tourists to track mountain gorillas
- Rwanda does not offer gorilla habituation as an experience where travelers get to spend longer times with the gorillas
- Few accommodation facilities are located in the park, and they are quite expensive. Midrange or budget travelers are not catered for. The rest of the accommodation is outside the park, and it’s here that budget travelers can get lodgings
- There is not so much to offer in terms of wildlife if compared to Uganda.
Now that you have explored the pros and cons of each country from which you can choose to do a gorilla trekking safari, you can go ahead and choose where you’d rather. Irrespective, though, both Uganda and Rwanda are great destinations each with tourist sites and activities that are worth a visit.