Gorilla trekking Uganda Vs Rwanda : Only found in Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda, gorillas are some of the endangered species one has to see before departing earth. With only about 880 gorillas left, trekking them is one of the most sought-after activities around the world and a great source of revenue for the governments and communities of Uganda and Rwanda. Mountain gorilla trekking sites are found around the famous Virunga mountains in the dense forests surrounding them.
Located in East Africa, Uganda is arguably one of the most beautiful countries on the African continent. For her benevolence, she was named the Pearl of Africa by Sir Winston Churchill in 1908. From one of the world’s biggest lakes and source of the longest river, mountains on both the east and western borders, the green scenery and the diverse wildlife, Uganda is surely worth a visit. In the southwestern part of the country is where the homes of the mountain gorillas lie; Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park and the Mgahinga National Park.
Both parks, Bwindi and Mgahinga are open for gorilla trekking throughout the year. These two parks host half of the remaining population of mountain gorrillas with 12 habituated families (45% of the whole population) in Bwindi and one family in Mgahinga. Each family comprises of 10 to 40 members headed by the oldest male (silverback) in the group.
Rwanda, arguably the fastest growing country in East Africa and a very beautiful country is a force to reckon with. It is home to Lake Kivu, a lake surrounded by the country’s gentle slopes hence Rwanda being called the country of a thousand hills. The country’s capital Kigali is the gateway to Volcanoes National Park, the home to Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda. Unlike trekking in Uganda’s Bwindi and Mgahinga, trekking in Rwanda is relatively easy and accessible due to the gentle slopes and not so thick forests; It is also a few hours from the capital Kigali.
While looking forward to go Gorilla trekking, it is important to decide which of the two countries will provide an experience you’re looking for. For example, for the physically abled and fit people, gorilla trekking in Uganda would work so well given the rough terrain compared to the gentle terrain of Rwanda. It is a question of budget, comfort and an ultimate experience. At the end of this, you would have made your decision hopefully; Uganda or Rwanda?
The trek : Gorilla trekking Uganda Vs Rwanda
Taking a trek is physically demanding and as mentioned earlier, it is important to access whether you are physically fit are able. That said, trekking in Rwanda is easily accessible though it’s worth knowing that you’re at a higher altitude which definitely comes with its own effects. Rwanda is definitely a top pick if you’re physically unfit. Trekking in Uganda on the other hand is trickier and involves some level of hiking due to the rough terrain and the mountains. The gorillas in Uganda are hard to track due to their constant movement making the trek longer from half an hour to up to nine hours.
Accessibility : Gorilla trekking Uganda Vs Rwanda
From Kigali, it is a three-hour drive to Volcanoes National Park on the well-maintained roads and it is also possible to fly in by helicopter. Bwindi on the other hand is fairly inaccessible requiring a charter flight from Entebbe followed by 90 to 120 minutes on the road. If you’re big on accessibility, Rwanda will win on this one.
Diversity : Gorilla trekking Uganda Vs Rwanda
Many people prefer combining gorilla trekking with another activity for example bird watching and tracking the big five. Rwanda has limited options being a small country but the development of Akagera National Park with the big five is interesting. Uganda on the other hand has a diversity of wildlife and other activities. Cultural tours of the Batwa in Bwindi, spotting elephants at Murchison falls, tracking tree climbing lions and mountain climbing are some of the activities Uganda has to offer.
Price and accommodation : Gorilla trekking Uganda Vs Rwanda
Both countries have amazing options when it comes to accommodation. It is really up to you to choose where to stay while trekking and it all comes down to your pockets. The Sabinyo lodge in Rwanda is an excellent option when it comes to affordability and luxury. Uganda’s accommodation is fairly cheaper and luxurious. The Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge is an amazing option with spectacular views and affordability.
For the gorilla trekking permit prices, Uganda takes the win. In 2017, the Rwandan government decided to increase the cost of the permit from $750 per trek to $1500 and although Uganda no longer offers discounted permits during low seasons, it has maintained the permit price at $600. If you’re budget conscious, Uganda is definitely the country for gorilla trekking.