Which country provides the best option to encounter this amazing mountain gorillas? Comparing Gorilla Trekking in Uganda vs Rwanda would require you to look at the cost, safety, degree of hiking, availability and so on.
It may be unfair comparing gorilla trekking in Uganda to Rwanda or DR CONGO since Uganda has wildlife in savannah parks and many more activities to offer other than the other two countries where combining a savannah safari with gorilla trekking may not come as a simple choice. So Uganda safaris take the first point on this comparison. However, we will provide you with all the highlights and lowlights to help you make the choice that is right for you.
Gorillas are generally divided into mountain and lowland gorillas. The lowland gorillas are smaller and have brownish-gray far coats and a distinct brow ridge, whereas the mountain gorillas are larger with darker black coats.
There are more than 100,000 lowland gorillas but on the contrary mountain gorillas are endangered and are about 1000 left in the whole world today.
Lowland gorillas are found in DR Congo only while mountain gorillas are distributed in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. In Uganda you will find them in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In Rwanda in Volcanoes National Park. While in DR Congo in Virunga National Park. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park are found on the Virunga Mountains.
Trekking mountain gorillas is not a dangerous activity. Most of the gorilla groups available for tourism in those wild jungles are habituated by experts to avoid dangerous encounters with humans. These gorillas seem very dominant and very strong when seen but are really shy to aliens in their habitat and will only attack to protect their own when they feel threatened. You’re always advised to take great precaution not to threaten them when you meet them.
Depending on where the gorilla group is located, one could be jungle trekking Gorillas from 1 to 8 kilometers over very steep inclines and muddy terrain in some instance.
Recommended: Mountain Gorilla Habituation in Bwindi
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO hosting more than 400 mountain gorillas. 12 habituated mountain gorilla groups are open to tourism in four different sectors of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and the Nkuringo all under the management of Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park sits on higher altitudes between 2,227m and 4,127m. It is home to the habituated Nyakagezi gorilla group who are a nomadic group known to cross the border into Rwanda and the Congo.
Rwanda Gorilla trekking is done in Volcanoes National Park which is only 3 hours drive from Kigali International Airport. There are 10 habituated groups that can be visited, limited to only 8 people per day. Your Rwanda Gorilla permit buys you 1 hour with the gorillas. The gorilla groups include; Susa group, Karisimbi, Ugenda, Umubano, Sabinyo, Hirwa, Amahoro, Bwenge, Agasha (13 group) and the Kwitonda
Highlights of Rwanda:
Lowlights of Rwanda:
It is also possible to find mountain gorillas within the DR Congo at Virunga National Park. Although the gorilla permits are only $400, the area is unstable due to the political, military and rebel activities. There is a probable threat to the lives of visitors and travel advisories strongly do not recommend traveling there. In most cases, your Travel Insurance becomes void.
The main threat to mountain gorillas are human encroachment, poacher and diseases. However tourism authorities have sensitized the community, reserved the forest even evicting Batwa pigmy’s from the forest and regulate and prevent spread of diseases. They have conservation measures thus regulate the number of visitors around the fragile natural habitat of gorilla group to only 8 people.
It is essential to pack sturdy hiking boots for hiking the steep and muddy trails. Gloves to protect your hands when you grab branches and vines. Rain jacket or poncho in case it rains. Plenty of water to keep you hydrated. Energy snacks to keep you going during the tough trekking. Long pants and shirts to prevent any bug bites.
Here’s a comprehensively written blog on What to pack for a safari holiday that I think will engage you.
Mountain gorillas are, in essence, gentle giants. They show very little aggression toward each other and their overall vibe is extremely peaceful. There is always potential for danger when you are close to wildlife, but these risks can be limited greatly by exercising caution and safety measures.
The frequently poached gorillas in DR Congo made them move to the Uganda or Rwanda sides of national parks in the Virunga Mountains giving Uganda an upper hand for trekking.
Experiencing these amazing creatures and getting to the gorillas takes more effort, more time and more expense than a traditional African safari. However, you will enjoy value for your money.
Remember it is the experience that matters. Choose the destination that fits your travel goals, budget, and comfort zone.
Let us know what you think in the comment section bellow.