Comparing Gorilla Trekking in Uganda & Rwanda

Comparing Gorilla Trekking in Uganda & Rwanda: This articles combines the possible information about the differences and similarities of Gorilla trekking in 2 beautiful countries in East Africa that is Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda. Keeping in Mind that the Gorilla species that thrill in Uganda and Rwanda are both known as Mountain Gorilla because they prefer spending most of their time up in the mountains. There are different factors to look up to while Comparing Gorilla Trekking in Uganda & Rwanda and these include the nature of terrains, availability of Gorilla families, Gorilla trekking cost, availability of accommodation facilities as well as the safety and security during Gorilla Trekking in both countries.

About gorillas

The world thrills with 2 different groups of Gorillas that is the Mountain gorillas that reside in mountainous areas of East Africa with in 3 destinations including Uganda the pearl of Africa with in 2 parks including Bwindi impenetrable national park & Mgahinga Gorilla national park, Rwanda the land of a thousand hills in Volcanoes national park as well as Democratic Republic of Congo in Virunga national park. The other class of Gorillas are the Lowland Gorillas that reside in areas of lower altitude. In East Africa, Eastern Lowland Gorillas are found in Kahuzi Beiga National park in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Before Comparing Gorilla Trekking in Uganda & Rwanda, one has to know that all gorilla families available for trekking in Either Rwanda or Uganda have been habituated by a group of experts to ensure that they are not harmful to humans though rules and regulations have to be followed as advised by the rangers since these Gorillas still remain wild animals and can change at any time.

Gorilla trekking is referred to as the art of searching for the gorilla families that have been habituated and used to humans. Trekking gorillas always starts early in the morning with briefing and later on trekkers penetrate the forest to search for these gentle giants as they roam the forest doing their daily activities. Gorilla trekking usually lasts between 1-8 hours depending on different factors such as movement of gorilla, nature of the terrains, trekking speed of the trekkers and many more. However, once a gorilla family is found, trekkers are allowed only one hour in their presence taking photographs and closely watching gorillas, taking photographs and many more.

About Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Gorilla trekking in Uganda has always been the top tourist activity enjoyed by several travelers on a Uganda safari most especially the primate lovers who wish to spend time with the endangered mountain gorillas in their habitats. As mentioned earlier, Uganda thrills with 2 national parks where one can trek mountain gorillas which include Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga Gorilla national park.

Uganda Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park: Bwindi impenetrable national park is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and is one of the best destination for Gorilla trekking not only in Uganda but the entire East Africa and in the whole world due to the fact that it harbors the largest population of endangered mountain gorillas with more than 50% of the entire population thrilling in its impenetrable forest thus has many habituated gorilla families available for trekking on a daily basis. In fact, as of now 2021, Bwindi harbors over 20 gorilla families making it the best park with the largest number of gorilla trekking permits per day since each gorilla family is trekked by maximum number of 8 trekkers per day. Bwindi impenetrable national park is situated far in the south western corner of Uganda in Kanungu district and it consists of 4 different Gorilla trekking sectors each with habituated gorilla families and these include; Rushaga sector, Buhoma sector, Nkuringo sector and Ruhija sector. Each of these sectors are situated in different parts of the park making it easy for trekkers to choose which sector to trek in as long as there is availability of permits.

Uganda Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla national park: Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is yet another fascinating and best destination in Uganda where Mountain Gorillas are trekked in their natural habitats. Mgahinga Gorilla national park is as well situated in south western Uganda with in Kisoro district which is part of Virunga Massif and it harbors only one Gorilla family “Nyakagezi Gorilla Family” that is found of roaming 3 parks with in Virunga including Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo as well as Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National park where it is currently settled and being trekked by maximum number of 8 trekkers per day.

About Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Mountain Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is conducted in only one park, Volcanoes national park situated about 3 hours’ drive from Kigali the capital city of Uganda as well as Kigali international airport. The park thrills with over 12 habituated Gorilla Families available for daily trekking by maximum 8 people. Trekking Gorillas in Rwanda just like in Uganda takes one 1 hour with gorillas after following them up for many hours. Gorilla Trekking permits in Rwanda are obtained direct from Rwanda Development Board (RDB) the body responsible for managing the protected areas in Rwanda.

Comparing Gorilla trekking in Uganda & Rwanda

Gorilla trekking permit: Uganda Gorilla Trekking permit is cheaper than that of Rwanda at a cost of $700 per person for Foreign Non Residents, $600 per person for Foreign Residents and UGX.250, 000 for Ugandans and other Community Members of East Africa. Thus a travelers who is looking at a cheaper cost of Gorilla Trekking  end up choosing Uganda over Rwanda as the Rwanda’s Gorilla Trekking permit costs $1,500 per person which is equivalent to Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda which as well costs $1,500. Gorilla Trekking permits in Uganda are obtained from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) while that of Rwanda is issued by Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

Population of Gorillas: While comparing Gorilla trekking in Uganda & Rwanda, one needs to know that Uganda hosts a largest population of Gorillas with more than a half of the entire population in the world being protected in Bwindi impenetrable national park and the remaining population is divided amongst the other parks including Mgahinga Gorilla national park in Uganda, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo. Thus the probability of spotting Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable national park are way higher than those in Rwanda unless otherwise. 

Other attractions: For travelers who would wish to view other attractions in the wilderness alongside gorilla trekking, then Bwindi impenetrable national park is the way to go as it offer several encounters along the way during trekking including plenty of bird life, butterflies, mammals as well as different plant species that all make the trek so rewarding. On the other hand, Mgahinga Gorilla national park and Volcanoes national park are yet rewarding in their own way as they reward trekkers with stunning views of different volcanoes with in Virunga massif with yet a chance of spotting endangered Golden monkeys. So depending on what one wishes to see during gorilla trekking, the choice remains for whether to trek in Uganda or Rwanda.

Park accessibility: In terms of accessibility, Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park is situated at least 2-3 hours’ drive from Kigali the capital city of Rwanda thus easily accessed by car and in some cases, travelers spend overnights in Kigali and arise very early in the morning for gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park. On the other hand, driving from Kampala /Entebbe to Bwindi impenetrable national park takes about 10-11 hours which is way too long and tiresome thus usually enjoyed by adventurous travelers who wish to view different attractions along the long journey drive like the Equator, the locals, the flat farms, and the rolling hills of kigezi among others. This however doesn’t mean that all travelers must pass through Entebbe to Trek Gorillas in Uganda. Most tourists usually opt for a flight into Kigali international airport and take a drive for 3-5 hours to Bwindi impenetrable forest via Cyanika border or Katuna border depending on the sector one wishes to trek. This implies that there are different ways of accessing Gorillas either in Uganda or Rwanda depending on the choice of the trekker. For those who fear long drives from Entebbe and would wish to trek Uganda Gorillas from Kampala have an option of booking charter flights from Entebbe or Kajansi to Kisoro then drive to different Parks.

Accommodations facilities: Both Uganda and Rwanda offer different accommodation facilities ranging from Budget, Midrange and Luxury amenities situated with in the park, near the park or at some distance from the park. Uganda thrills with very many accommodations that enable trekkers to make different choices depending on your trip cost. However, Rwanda’s accommodations are way more luxurious. 

Nature of Terrains: Bwindi Impenetrable forest as states is a forested and mountainous park whose terrains sometimes become a challenge for trekkers as they have find their way through the forest. And sometimes the trails get muddy and slippery but with the help of hiking sticks, trekkers pass through and get to the Gorillas. On the other hand, the terrain in Volcanoes national park is abit flat with less terrains making it abit easier to trek through. However, the nature of terrain should never be an issue for not trekking where ever one wishes too since none of the Clients have ever complained about the terrains as at the end of the day the experiences remains the same once trekkers get closer to the mountain Gorillas.

Gorilla trekking Rules and Regulations

However much the Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda may slightly vary due to the above mentioned factors, the rules and regulation remain the same for both Uganda and Rwanda and they include;

  • Minimum age limit for Gorilla trekking is 15 years below which one is considered a child and unable to endure the trekking adventure in the wilderness of endangered mountain gorillas.
  • One must have a Gorilla trekking permit to be able to trek.
  • The maximum time allowed with Gorillas is just 1 hour in case, one needs more time with Gorillas, then Gorilla Habituation experience is the solution and it lasts for 4 hours only conducted in Rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable national park in Uganda.
  • The maximum number of trekkers per Gorilla family is 8 persons per day.

Gorilla trekking Dos & Don’ts

Below are the thing you should or shouldn’t do while on a Gorilla trekking adventure in both Uganda and Rwanda and they include;

  • Always keep a distance of 15M between you and the Gorillas for safety purposes.
  • While with Gorillas, never use flash light in your camera while taking photographs.
  • Keep the voice as low as possible at all times while trekking gorillas.
  • People with flue, cough and any other cold related infection aren’t allowed to trek Gorillas for fear of transmission of the diseases to the primates since they share almost 97% of human DNA.
  • In case of a short call, ensure that the waste buried as deep as 30cm underground.
  • Never make unnecessary movements in the park, you need to  move in  a group at all the time while trekking Gorillas
  • In case Gorillas charge, do not Panic, Relax and follow all the guidelines by the rangers. 

Is Gorilla trekking worth the money?

One could be wondering whether it’s worth spending lots of dollars just to see mountain Gorillas. But trust me, Gorilla trekking is far worth the money one puts in especially the excitement one gets as soon as they get to Gorillas is such fascinating and memorable. Thus while planning a Gorilla trekking safari, keep in mind that this is a life time experience thus making proper choice of the destination matters as long as it fits in the budget of your safari. Check out our Gorilla Trekking safaris both in Uganda and Rwanda for the best options that caters for both Budget, Midrange and Luxury travelers. 

Other factors held constant, Gorilla Trekking is a similar experience whether in Uganda, Rwanda and even in Congo. So book your Gorilla Trekking Safari now whether in Uganda / Rwanda /Congo and you will indeed enjoy the unbeatable experience with Gorillas.