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Gorilla Uganda Vs Rwanda, Trekking the endangered Mountain gorilla in their natural habitats has been widely seen as the ultimate bucket list wildlife encounter in Africa. There are about 1064 mountain gorillas within the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda-Volcanoes National Park, Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks. Even when these giant apes are found in three countries, two-Uganda and Rwanda are the most popular for gorilla trekking and there are always questions on which of the two is better.

This article therefore brings you information on how Uganda and Rwanda are different in terms of gorilla trekking to help you decide which the best choice is;

Price of gorilla permits

In 2017, the Rwandan Government increased the price of Rwanda Gorilla Permits from the original $750 to the current $1500 for all tourists regardless of citizenship or residency status. This increase has been argued to favoring only the luxury travellers. Uganda on the other hand increased price of gorilla permits by only $100-from the original $600 to $700 and also cancelled the discounted permits that were offered during the low seasons. Even with the increase in Uganda’s gorilla permits, it still remains a cheaper option for budget travellers and it is for this reason that it’s difficult to find gorilla permit availability for Bwindi during the peak seasons while Rwanda usually has surplus. Therefore if price is an important factor to deciding which destination to trek mountain gorillas, then Uganda is the better choice.

Ease of access

Volcanoes National Park is the easier to access with only 2-3 hours’ drive from Kigali City on well-maintained tarmac roads. Additionally, intending trekkers have an option of few minutes’ flight into the Park by helicopter. Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park on the other hand is 8-9 hours’ drive from Kampala City on both tarmac and murram roads. For tourists opting for air transport, scheduled and chartered flights can be arranged from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip followed by road transfer ranging from one and a half hour to two hours on dirt roads of varying condition.

For persons preferring direct and more comfortable rides, Rwanda is the better choice but Uganda is at an advantage because of the different attractions especially National Parks, community projects and cultural experiences along the way thus spicing up your gorilla trekking experience.

Ease of trek

Mountain gorillas trekking is generally a physically demanding activity involving hiking through rugged terrains, thick forest and high altitudes, thus requiring participants to be physically fit. However, even when you have mobility issues or aren’t physically fit, both Rwanda and Uganda make it possible for you to achieve your dream of encountering the giant apes. With the help of the gorilla trekking sedan chairs, you will be lifted by four porters to your gorilla encounter at an extra cost (between $300 and $400).

Most people that have trekked mountain gorillas in both Uganda and Rwanda can agree that the habituated gorilla families within the latter are more accessible. Not only that, there are gentler treks in Rwanda than in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks.

Gorilla families in Bwindi (especially the southern sectors of Nkuringo and Rushaga) as well as Mgahinga National Park usually require more hiking and longer treks. These require trekkers to possess reasonable level of fitness. Nonetheless, whichever country you choose, it is worth noting that mountain gorillas are not stationed in one place thus might move to places of higher elevation and also its important to be prepared to whatever condition comes your way.

Number of Gorilla families

Uganda has two wonderful gorilla trekking destinations-Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks with over 21 habituated families and 168 gorilla permits are available per day. The number of gorilla families in Uganda is more than twice the number in Rwanda that stands at 10 habituated gorilla families for trekking with 80 gorilla permits available per day.

Places to stay

Both Uganda and Rwanda have exquisite places to stay during your mountain gorilla trekking safaris but the latter is the perfect place for high level of luxury and class. With options like Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, One&Only Gorilla’s Nest, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Bisate Lodge, Singita Kwitonda Lodge, Virunga Lodge and many others your high-end gorilla trek is sorted.

Uganda has more budget and midrange facilities and even the luxury places are more affordable. The homely Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Trackers Safari Lodge, Gorilla Safari Lodge, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge and many others offer comfort at more affordable rates. Gorilla trekking Uganda Vs Rwanda

Other activities to combine with gorilla trekking

Although both Rwanda and Uganda both offer unique and outstanding gorilla trekking experience, it’s undeniable that Uganda has more activities to enjoy besides gorilla trekking. Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks offer Batwa cultural experiences, nature walks/hiking, birding, Virunga Volcanoes climbing, golden monkey tracking (in Mgahinga), mountain biking/cycling and the Gorilla Habituation Experience (in Bwindi) while Volcanoes National Park’s other activities are birding, volcano climbing,  nature walks and cultural tours.

Tourist activities in other Parks such as chimpanzee trekking, game drives, bird watching and nature walks are offered in both countries but Uganda is where you can enjoy numerous adventure activities such as bungee jumping, whitewater rafting and Quad bike tours (in Jinja) as well as experiential tours and also, there are more en-route destinations to be visited in Uganda before getting to the gorilla trekking Parks than it is with Rwanda. Gorilla trekking Uganda Vs Rwanda

In conclusion, the best country for mountain gorilla trekking depends on several factors that influence individual choice and preference and these include your budget, level of physical activity and time you can spare for the safari.

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