Comparing Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

The Mountain gorillas are the world’s star wild creatures Africa offers to world travelers and they are only found in two of the East African countries, Uganda and Rwanda. Uganda and Rwanda offer safe and ultimate mountain gorilla experiences to tourists with over 880 individuals still surviving in the whole world. Mountain gorilla trekking is one of the most valuable and experiential adventure that for long, has continued to attract the world visitors in the destinations throughout the year.

In Rwanda, mountain gorilla trekking remains the famous adventure because habituation and conservation of the Giant Apes was first established in the country right at the time of Dian Fossey. Hence today Rwanda boasts of high tourist arrivals on mountain gorilla trekking in the whole of East Africa despite the higher prices set for gorilla permits. However, Uganda also offers an ideal destination for mountain gorilla trekking throughout the year because of the favorable climatic conditions, dully situated in the equator and serenity that has prevailed in the country for a long time. Uganda offers the best travel destination for the tourists who plan to take up a trip in Africa because it is a home to diverse wildlife and culture.

Because East Africa is a very famous region that offers remote, exotic and diversity of wilderness attractions, mountain gorilla trekking is one of the wonderful adventures the region offers to travelers for that pure adventure experiences in a life time. The spark of imagination attached to the first encounters with eyes of the critically endangered species is such a hard one to explain unless a person visits the destination! The reward to the traveler’s senses is met within the magical 1 hour that visitors take while with the Giant Ape.

It is a common practice among the travelers that when they are planning to take a trip to view the critically endangered Giants, they prioritize the country or destination to visit. Equally, Uganda and Rwanda offer the same products but unique gorilla trekking experiences to visitors due to slight differences in the terrain.

Below is a highlight of comparison of mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda, based on accessibility of the destinations, cost of gorilla permit, availability, gorilla trekking experiences and other aspects.

Uganda is very famous for viewing the mountain gorillas and travelers have 2 destinations to meet their long time dreams. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park and the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, in Uganda and all these are located in the deep foothills, south-western Uganda. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is situated 550 km and takes the tourists 9-10 hours to access the park. The park can be accessed both by road and air. On road, tourists can move via Queen Elizabeth National Park (Mweya)-Kihihi-Buhoma, which offers high chances to clients to stopovers and search for the famous tree climbing lions as they relax from the trees, Kampala-Kabale-Kanungu-Buhoma a 5-6 hour journey among others.
However, distance has been minimized through the scheduled air services to clients and this is by taking a flight from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airfield to modern tarmac airstrip at Kisoro town, Hihihi and Ishasha airstrip in Kanungu district then they move to the park. The ticket costs clients $260 with aero link Uganda.

Whereas, the Volcanoes National Park is easily and quickly due to the small size of the country (Rwanda) that takes tourists only 2-3 hour drive from the airport to the park.

With easy access to the Volcanoes national park, travelers may think that Rwanda can offer the best choice for mountain gorilla trekking however, Uganda avails many favorable factors for the travelers. Considering the cost of gorilla permit to be purchased to trek the Giant Apes, Uganda offers the affordable and cheaper prices as compared to Rwanda. Gorilla permits at a peak season go at $600 in Uganda as opposed to $750 in Rwanda while at low season; still Uganda offers relatively cheap prices $450 and $500 in Rwanda. This means a traveler can save the balance of $150 during the peak season in Uganda for other additional expenses.

Based on the mountain gorilla trekking experiences, Uganda the pearl of Africa is a home to half of critically endangered Apes whose encounter sparks great imagination and memories in a traveler’s life time. The magical experience is boosted by several mountain gorilla habituations set for tourism purposes in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Currently, there are 12 habituated gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, 1 in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and more others to be habituated. Clients can also take up the habituation experience. Several mountain gorilla families mean more availability of gorilla permits for the clients to meet their long term dreams. Bwindi Impenetrable national park has 4 main gorilla trails for tourism, Buhoma, Nkuringo, Rushaga and Ruhija and only 80 gorilla permits per group per day.

Whereas the Volcanoes national park, in Rwanda has 10 gorilla families that the tourist can visit for the trek. High chances are that the clients can be offered favorable encounter with the impressive Giant Apes in their natural habitat and take several photographs due to high altitude of 2500 meters.

Gorilla trekking in both Rwanda and Uganda is done throughout the year but convenient around January-March and late May- September and they experience two rain seasons every year; April and mid-October then mid-December, but at times it can rain any moment in the gorilla region because it is a tropical forest. To get the mountain gorillas, in Rwanda it is possible to find a gorilla group immediately after the wet season around the Bamboo vegetation

In conclusion, it is important to know that mountain gorilla trekking is an adventure experience and therefore so strenuous. This adventure is hard to predict and hence to view a mountain gorilla may be probable. The tourists are advised to be physically healthy as the trekking takes a lot of time and energy. The terrain of the destinations requires tourists to be fit to hike as they trek for the Giant Apes. However, both Uganda and Rwanda offer unique gorilla trekking experiences and it is a choice of a client either to visit one or both destinations.