In the world today there are about 1000 mountain gorillas that have survived death and at poachers’ hands. Surprisingly mountain gorillas are great ape species native to the African continent. In Africa, Uganda’s Bwindi Forest National Park habituates nearly half of this population ( about 400 animals) and the remaining half is settled in the Virunga ranges of Africa shared by three countries Uganda in Mgahinga National Park ( with 80 mountain gorillas), Rwanda in Volcanoes National Park and Congo in Virunga National Park.
Due to this distribution, there has been an ongoing debate; as to which country should one do a gorilla trekking trip in Africa. Since the introduction of gorilla tourism, several gorilla groups have been habituated for gorilla tracking. The on and off conflicts in Eastern Congo have made gorilla trekking in Congo less significant and when it comes to which country should one visit for this epic adventure, the battle is between Uganda and Rwanda. Many travelers wonder about which one of these places offers the best tracking experiences and photography. Therefore we have made a comparison of gorilla tracking experience between the two countries (Uganda and Rwanda) by the tourists wondering which country can be best when it comes to this trekking activity.
The reality is that, to which ever country you may choose to do the mountain gorilla trekking trip, the results will always be marvelous since for every destination there are different experiences to expect. Though there may be some differences like difference in permit costs for each country where In Uganda it can be obtained at US$700 (months of April, May and November) and US$1500 in Rwanda that tend to lower in the high seasons, this shouldn’t be ignored because “the cost factor” is one of the major issues in determining which place to go.
There are also other factors that can determine one’s choice like; tastes and preferences, driving time to gorilla locations, physical fitness ( as in Uganda you trek through the thick Bwindi Impenetrable forest and Rwanda involves mountain climbing, the specific gorilla group one wishes to visit, viewing and photography ( as it may be relatively dark in the Bwindi Impenetrable forest of Uganda), the accommodation-lodges, among others. All these may impact on the ranking of the countries’ performance; nevertheless, great experiences can be obtained from both countries accordingly since “variety is best”, just like all fruits taste good , each having its own delicious taste.
Trekkers who have visited mountain gorillas in both countries; Uganda and Rwanda have expressed different views and what we have here is certainly not the reality though dependent on people’s views.
While gorilla tracking in Rwanda may take only a few hours of a day 2-5 hours), gorilla tracking in Uganda will last for three days though some other activities like wild life viewing, birding, hiking, boat cruise, primates trekking, cultural visits can be included and enjoyed as well.
It requires nearly an entire day (9-10 hours of driving) to reach Uganda’s gorilla sanctuary since you have to drive right from Entebbe International Airport, through her Capital City (Kampala)
And then south to the Bwindi Impenetrable forest or Mgahinga National Park. But you may also fly out to any of the four areas Bwindi Impenetrable forest from Kigali at an added cost of course; accessing the south western part of the park (Rushaga and Nkuringo areas) or the North area of the park (Buhoma and Ruhija areas).However, to most clients, the long voyage from Entebbe Airport to Mgahinga or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is quite amazing as it’s filled with stunning views, a stopover at the equator-crossing and certainly the kigezi adulating hills.
In Rwanda, you will only need a few hours’ (2-3 hours) drive to the gorilla tracking home (Parc National Des Volcans) from the Kigali International Airport.
Considering the driving time taken to the gorilla tracking sections or parks; Rwanda takes on 2-3 hours and therefor better than Uganda which takes 9-10 hours of the day and you may need three days’ trip while Rwanda may need only two days depending on the other added activities like; wildlife safaris at Akagera park / Nyungwe Tropical rainforest, The Kigali Genocide Memorial Sites, chimpanzee trekking and golden monkey tracking and so many others , as well as Uganda, other tourism activities can be included in the trip.
Once at the trekking point in Uganda, here you will spend the night and set off for gorilla trekking the next day in the morning. At the gorilla sanctuary, you will have an orientation on the dos and don’ts once in contact with these endangered animals; the gorillas may approach you however you can’t approach the mountain gorillas. (Do not touch wild animals!),After which you will begin your trekking adventure as you look for the gorillas into this jungle together with the park guides and rangers.
Discovering these creatures may last between an hour and five hours ( 1-5hrs) in accordance to their movements in the forest, though at times its easy as the early morning trailers can be aware of where to find them. They are always on the move and hard for them to keep in same settlement area for a long time. On finding these animals, whether in Uganda or Rwanda, you will be allowed to spend an hour interacting with them and photographing.
It is so fascinating viewing these amazing creatures from only a brief distance, enjoying them in their natural existence