Gorilla Trekking Rwanda Vs Uganda
A comparison for Gorilla Trekking Uganda Vs Rwanda yields more similarities than differences. Both countries have mountain Gorillas living in a similar natural habitat so the experience is usually the same. Uganda, often referred to as “The Pearl of Africa,” and Rwanda, known as “The Land of a Thousand Hills,” are two East African countries celebrated as the top destinations for Gorilla trekking Safaris. However, each destination has its unique charm, and deciding between the two has always been a challenging task to travelers intending to book a Gorilla Safari.
Assessing the advantages of one destination over another should be after considering factors like the ease or difficulty of the trek, accessibility of the Gorilla habitat, number of Gorilla groups, cost of the Gorilla safari and/ permit price. Also, an analysis of the safety during the safari, accommodation options, photography clarity, authenticity and other available tour options helps to highlight the difference between Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda. Much as those differences exist, the Gorilla trekking experience for both countries is more or less the same.
Gorilla trekking offers a remarkable opportunity to encounter the endangered Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat. With just slightly above 1,000 of these Mountain Gorillas left worldwide, the chance to get up close to them is a rare and highly desired adventure. Since the realization of a Gorilla Tourism boom, the internet has been buzzing with debates over the best country for Gorilla trekking; Rwanda or Uganda, which is better for Gorilla Trekking?
Where to Find Mountain Gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda
In Rwanda, you can find them in Volcanoes National Park, which is renowned for its gentle slopes and open bush, providing an ideal environment for gorilla treks. On the other hand, Uganda boasts two national parks where you can encounter mountain gorillas: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the most popular and offers a larger number of habituated Gorilla groups, making it a prime destination for gorilla trekking. Who wouldn’t want to be where half of the world’s remaining Mountain Gorillas live?!
Accessibility of the Gorilla Park – Rwanda Vs Uganda
In terms of accessibility, Rwanda has a slight advantage. Volcanoes National Park, the exclusive home to the country’s Gorillas, is conveniently situated just two – three hours drive from Kigali, the capital and airport city. This accessibility makes it the preferred choice for those seeking a convenient and time-efficient Gorilla Trip. The proximity of Volcanoes National Park to Kigali International Airport facilitates a quicker journey compared to Uganda’s Gorilla parks.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla Park in Uganda on the other hand, are situated in a remote region. It implies you will need to travel approximately 8-10 hours by road from Entebbe International Airport, the main airport. However, the road trip from Kampala capital city is an experience of its own. It is very scenic with a lot of admirable spots that necessitate many free stop overs.
A traveler who can’t endure the long drive can opt for a flight from Entebbe airport to Bwindi or Mgahinga Park. See the 3 days Uganda Gorilla flying Safari. Alternatively, the visitor can fly into Rwanda and cross to Uganda by road. Reaching Bwindi from Kigali, Rwanda takes between 4 & 6 hours. Check Gorilla trekking Uganda from Rwanda.
Ease and difficulty of Trekking – Rwanda Vs Uganda
Rwanda’s terrain is generally more open, offering enhanced visibility during treks. In Volcanoes National Park, the Gorilla habitat is a predominantly bamboo forest with less vegetation overgrowth. However, it’s essential to consider that the elevated altitude in Rwanda might pose challenges for certain trekkers, impacting your trek planning.
Conversely, in Uganda, particularly within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the trekking experience is made more challenging by the thick vegetation, the steep terrain that often lacks established trails that may not necessitate trekkers to navigate through the forest with ease. It is at the same time a challenge to take clear photographs of the Gorillas amidst the lush foliage. Also, the unpredictable weather in Bwindi, accompanied by frequent rain, can render conditions slippery and muddy.
The solutions to the difficulty experienced during Gorilla trekking in both destinations is by making use of walking sticks (provided for free), hiring porters and proper prior preparations. In Bwindi, the rangers always walk with matchetes which they use to pave way for the trekkers by cutting down the vegetation.
If you must visit Rwanda but prefer an easier and cheaper trek, you can track Gorillas in Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla Park. The park shares boundaries with Volcanoes national Park and hence a similar terrain made up of open bamboo thickets that offer an easier trek.
Cost Comparison – Gorilla trekking Uganda Vs Rwanda
A crucial factor when deciding between gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda is the cost of permits. Rwanda permit price is set at $1,500 per individual, whereas in Uganda, they can be obtained for a more affordable rate of $700 per person. This significant discrepancy in price makes Uganda a more attractive option for budget-conscious travelers.
Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that permit fees are only one aspect to consider when calculating the total expenses. Additional costs such as transportation, accommodation, and meals should also be taken into account. Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is conveniently close to Kigali, which can reduce travel costs while reaching Uganda’s gorilla parks may necessitate additional time and resources.
Number of Gorilla groups
Both Rwanda and Uganda offer gorilla trekking experiences, each with its unique qualities. Rwanda’s gorilla trekking groups are relatively smaller, accommodating a maximum of eight visitors per gorilla group. This smaller group size enhances the intimacy of the encounter with these magnificent creatures. On the other hand, Uganda boasts more habituated Gorilla groups, with a total of 24 spread across Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In contrast, Rwanda has 10 habituated Gorilla groups in Volcanoes National Park. The larger number of habituated Gorilla groups in Uganda increases the chances of Gorilla sightings during the trek.
Accommodation Options – Uganda Vs Rwanda
Both Uganda and Rwanda provide a variety of accommodation options for Gorilla trekkers, ensuring that visitors with different preferences and budgets can find suitable places to stay. Rwanda, in particular, offers an extensive selection of top-end luxury lodges near Volcanoes National Park, providing a luxurious experience for travelers seeking indulgence.
Uganda on the contrary caters to a broader range of budgets by offering a mix of mid-range and luxury accommodations around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Certain lodges in Uganda are positioned near the park, providing visitors with an authentic forest setting. Lodges like Gorilla Forest Camp, Buhoma Lodge and others are known to receive some Gorilla groups visiting their premises occasionally. Therefore, whether you desire a luxurious lodge or a more rustic and immersive encounter, both destinations offer various accommodation choices that cater to your specific preferences.
Additional Wildlife and Safari Opportunities
While embarking on a journey to Rwanda or Uganda, the undeniable highlight is the thrilling experience of Gorilla trekking. However, these two countries also provide ample opportunities for encountering diverse wildlife and engaging in safari expeditions, further enriching your adventure. In Rwanda, Akagera National Park presents itself as an exciting destination, having undergone remarkable conservation initiatives and reintroductions, resulting in the revival of the Big Five species – lions, leopards, buffalos, elephants, and rhinoceroses. This makes Rwanda a great destination for a more traditional safari experience.
Uganda is notably larger and more diverse than Rwanda, offering visitors a broader array of activities to enhance their Gorilla trekking adventure. In addition to engaging in gorilla trekking, you can also take advantage of the opportunity to explore a multitude of national parks and reserves, such as Murchison Falls National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. These parks offer a wide range of wildlife encounters, including the Big Five as well as various bird species.
If you have an interest in encountering primates further, you can partake in a chimpanzee trekking adventure in Kibale Forest National Park, adding an extra dimension to your African journey. This diversity and the abundance of wildlife make Uganda a compelling destination for safari enthusiasts and those seeking a comprehensive African experience.
Best Time to Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda
The ideal period for embarking on a gorilla trekking adventure in Rwanda and Uganda is during the dry seasons, typically occurring from June to August and from December to February. These months are characterized by more favorable weather conditions, including reduced rainfall and easier trekking terrain. Nevertheless, it is crucial to acknowledge that gorilla trekking is possible throughout the year, with each season presenting its unique encounters. It is advisable to verify the prevailing weather conditions and seek guidance from a trusted tour operator to effectively plan your excursion.
Conservation and Responsible Tourism – Uganda Vs Rwanda
For conservation leaning visitors, it is important to note that both Rwanda and Uganda are deeply committed to Gorilla conservation and the promotion of responsible tourism practices. The governments of these countries have taken significant measures to protect the gorillas and their habitats. Gorilla trekking permits are an essential part of these efforts, contributing to conservation projects and benefiting local communities. Responsible tourism is vital in ensuring the long-term survival of these magnificent creatures for the enjoyment of future generations.
Uganda, uniquely, offers the gorilla habituation experience, providing trekkers with an extended opportunity to spend more time with these remarkable animals. This experience is ideal for those seeking a deeper and more immersive connection with the Gorillas. In contrast, Rwanda is renowned for its stringent conservation policies and well-regulated tourism industry, ensuring that Gorilla trekking remains a sustainable and responsible adventure. While Uganda offers the exclusive Gorilla habituation experience, this option is not available in Rwanda, making each country unique in its Gorilla trekking conservation offerings.
Which country is right for you? Uganda or Rwanda
When deciding between Uganda and Rwanda for gorilla trekking, consider your preferences, budget, and travel style. Rwanda offers accessible luxury with proximity to Kigali and more habituated Gorilla groups. In contrast, Uganda provides a rugged adventure in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Both countries offer life-changing encounters with these magnificent creatures. Regardless of your choice, secure permits in advance and follow conservation guidelines. Your decision should align with your wildlife, budget, and travel style.
In summary, both Uganda and Rwanda offer unique gorilla trekking experiences, only differing in accessibility, Permit price, accommodations and trek conditions. Whether you choose Rwanda or Uganda for your Gorilla Trekking Trip, you’ll have the opportunity to witness these incredible creatures up close. Rwanda offers smaller trekking groups for a more intimate experience, while Uganda’s larger number of habituated Gorilla groups increases your likelihood of encountering these gentle giants.