Is It Possible to Fly to Kigali and Trek Gorillas in Uganda?
Did you actually know that you can fly into Kigali International Airport (Rwanda) and then trek the mountain gorillas from Uganda? Yes, this is very possible. Most intending gorilla trekkers do not know that this option actually exists, which is why it never crosses their mind. Uganda is one of the few exceptional countries that shelter the critically endangered Mountain gorillas, but the biggest challenge for gorilla trekkers to Uganda is the long distance from Kampala to the National Parks. This is where Rwanda beats Uganda because Volcanoes National park is just 2-3 hours drive from Kigali yet there are more mountain gorillas in Uganda than they are in Rwanda. There are two extraordinary National Parks in Uganda where Mountains gorillas can be tracked from and they include Mgahinga National Park-a home to about 80 mountain gorillas, and only one habituated gorilla family and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park-a home to over 400 mountain gorillas (about half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas, and over 12 habituated gorilla groups including one reserved for research purposes).
Bwindi Impenetrable National park-the gorilla trekking capital of Uganda is comprised of four sectors/regions-Buhoma (Northern side), Ruhija sector (Eastern side), Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors (in the Southern side). The Southern sectors of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are situated within a shorter distance from Kigali International Airport than they are from Kampala/Entebbe International Airport, hence this makes flying into Kigali to trek Uganda’s Mountain gorillas the best option for tourists intending to travel to Uganda. This will save you two things; the 6-10 whole hours driving from Kampala to Bwindi or Mgahinga National Park and also save money ($1500) that you would have used to track mountain gorillas from Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Also, when you track mountain gorillas from Bwindi Impenetrable National park, you will enjoy the promotional/discounted gorilla permits during the low seasons (April, May and November) and the remarkable activity-the Gorilla Habituation Experience (GHE), where tourists spend up to four hours with a gorilla group undergoing Habituation (which is only done in Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors).
The worry that most tourists have is the issue of Visas, which should not actually be a problem because with the East African Tourist Visa at only $100, you have a single entry (90 days) into Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya with one single Visa. You will therefore not need to acquire a visa twice that is when entering Rwanda and then crossing to Uganda. Much as it is ignored, the best and cheapest option of visiting Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park is to fly to Rwanda, which is between 3-4 hours drive from Kigali International Airport to Rushaga sector of Bwindi. With permits in Uganda costing only $600 per person for foreign non residents, $500 for foreign resident s and Shs 250,000 per person for East African Community residents, you have a reason to drive to Bwindi National Park for gorilla trekking.
Do you believe that the $1500 you would pay for Rwanda Gorilla trekking for only one hour can actually allow you to spend 4 hours during the Gorilla Habituation Experience for four hours? This activity is exclusive and exceptional to Uganda only. Did you also know that most of Bwindi’s Habituated gorilla groups (over 6 groups) are found near the border with Rwanda? These gorilla groups include Mishaya, Nshongi, Bweza, Kahungye and Busingye in Rushaga sector and Nkuringo gorilla group in Nkuringo sector. There are also fairly priced Lodging facilities in Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors than it is for Volcanoes National Park.
In conclusion, instead of enduring over 9 hours driving from Kampala/Entebbe International Airport, you can actually opt to fly to Kigali International Airport in Rwanda and track mountain gorillas from the Southern sectors of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National, park which are just 3 to 4 hours drive from Kigali. Do not let long distance and exorbitant prices of gorilla trekking permits hinder you from achieving a lifetime dream of meeting face to face with the mountain gorillas yet you have an easier option.