Gorilla Trekking in Uganda or Rwanda: Where to Go in 2024

Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda is by far a life changing wildlife experience. However, most trekkers still do not which country is the best to visit to trek mountain gorillas. For starters, when making comparison between gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda, so many factors should be put consideration including among others price of gorilla permits, safety, level of hike. Comparing the two gorilla destinations is essential as it will guide you when planning for your next gorilla safari.

Gorilla trekking in Uganda like it is a case in Rwanda is a second bucket list safari experience after wildlife viewing. In Uganda you can trek mountain gorillas either in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The two parks are set in southwestern Uganda approximately 8 to 10 hours’ drive away from Kampala/Entebbe and 4 hour’s drive from Kigali. In Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is the only national park where gorilla treks are conducted and this park is set in Northern Province of Rwanda.

Unlike Rwanda, Uganda prides herself as a home to half of all the 1004 mountain gorillas that today still exist on earth and they are all confined within two parks. Currently, about 21 habituated gorilla families are available for trekking and research. In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, gorilla treks take place in anyone of its 4 regions; Buhoma sector with gorilla families like Mubare, Katwe, Rushegura and Habinyanja; Ruhija region with Oruzogo group, Bitukura, Kyaguliro; Rushaga-consists of Nshongi, Mishaya, Busingye, Mucunguzi, Kutu, Rwigi, Bikingi, Kahungye, Bweza. In Nkuringo-there is Nkuringo, Bushaho and Christmas. Mgahinga National Park has only Nyakagezi gorilla family set for trekking. Whereas in Rwanda, gorilla treks are done in anyone of the 10 habituated families. They include the Susa A, Agashya, Ugenda, Umubano, Amahoro, Bwenge, Hirwa, Sabyinyo, Karisimbi and Kwitonda,

Gorilla permits

A gorilla permit in Uganda costs $700 per person (for foreign non-residents), $500 for foreign residents and shs.250000 for East African citizens. However, with effect from 1st July, 2020 gorilla permits in Uganda will be secured at at$700, $600 and shs.250000 respectively. Despite this, Uganda still remains as affordable gorilla family. In Rwanda, gorilla permits are issued at $1500 per person.

How to get Bwindi, Mgahinga National Park and Volcanoes National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park can be reached either by road or by air. By road, you can begin your road trip from Entebbe or Kampala which is about 8-10 hours or from Kigali which is 4 hours. Or take a flight from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kisoro or Kihihi airstrip then connect to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. To reach Volcanoes National Park, you need about 3-4 hours to drive from Kigali.

Other things to see en-route to Bwindi or Mgahinga National Park

A road trip to Bwindi National Park or Mgahinga National Park also allows you to pay a visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park where you can embark on a game drive that rewards travel endeavors with remarkable view at variety of savanna dwellers including African bush elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards, antelope families, bird species and most significantly, the rare tree climbing lions at Ishasha area. Chill and relax at the equator crossing or explore and experience other pristine national parks in Uganda including Murchison Falls National Park in northwest which is Uganda’s largest park, Kidepo Valley National Park the isolated destination in the extreme northeast and Lake Mburo National Park en-route to Bwindi or Mgahinga National Park.

Uganda-the pearl of Africa also offers gorilla habituation experience-an extra ordinary primate experience that is offered only in Bwindi National Park and takes you the entire day exploring the rare mountain gorillas in semi-habituated groups thus rewarding you with authentic experiences. This unique primate adventure is mainly conducted by the scientists, researchers, trackers and others. Compared to the usual gorilla treks, with gorilla habituation experience, you have 4 hours of face to face encounter with these creatures-explore their behaviors and body gestures, take as many photos as possible.

Accommodation choices in Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park

Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park have several accommodation options ranging from budget to luxury. Budget lodging alternatives in and around Bwindi National Park include Bwindi View Bandas, Gift of nature lodge, Nshongi camp, Broadbill forest camp, Buhoma community rest camp, wagtail eco safari camp, Nshongi gorilla resort and Ruhija community rest camp. Midrange lodges include Gorilla Mist Camp, silverback lodge Bwindi, Engagi lodge Bwindi, Lake Kitandara Bwindi Camp, Gorilla valley lodge, Nkuringo gorilla camp, and if you are interested in up-market, you can opt for Buhoma lodge, Clouds Mount Gorilla Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Gorilla Forest camp, Gorilla safari lodge, Mahogany springs camp and Ruhija gorilla safari lodge.

Mgahinga National Park has most of its lodging options concentrated around Ntebeko and they include Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Safari Lodge or Amajambere Iwacu Camp. At Lake Mutanda, the notable lodges include Chameleon Hill Lodge or Lake Mutanda Resort. In Kisoro, they include River Mucha Hotel and Kisoro Traveler’s Rest Hotel. Other nearby lodges include Mount Mgahinga Lodge, Mount Mgahinga Rest Camp, Nkuringo safari lodge and Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge.

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