Rwanda vs Uganda Gorilla Trekking: Which is Better?

In summary, Rwanda offers a more accessible, luxurious, and easier gorilla trekking experience, while Uganda provides a more affordable option with greater wildlife diversity beyond just the gorillas. Read on for detailed Uganda vs Rwanda gorilla trekking comparisons.

Is Uganda or Rwanda Better for Gorilla Trekking?

Both Rwanda and Uganda offer excellent opportunities for gorilla trekking, but there are some key differences to consider:

Price: Uganda’s gorilla trekking permits are significantly cheaper than Rwanda’s, costing $800 vs $1,500 per person. This makes Uganda the more affordable option for budget-conscious travelers.

Accessibility: Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is much closer to the international airport in Kigali, just a 2-hour drive, compared to the 8-hour drive from Uganda’s Entebbe airport to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Trekking Conditions: Trekking conditions are generally a bit easier in Rwanda, with less steep and muddy trails compared to the more challenging terrain in Uganda’s Bwindi forest.

Wildlife Diversity: While Rwanda’s gorilla trekking is the main draw, Uganda offers a wider range of wildlife experiences, including safaris in national parks like Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls, as well as chimpanzee trekking.

Luxury Accommodations: Rwanda has a more developed tourism infrastructure with more high-end luxury lodges compared to Uganda.

In summary, Rwanda offers a more accessible, luxurious, and easier gorilla trekking experience, while Uganda provides a more affordable option with greater wildlife diversity beyond just the gorillas.

Quick Uganda vs Rwanda Table

Permit PriceUSD 800 per personUSD $1500 per person
How to book the permitUganda has a huge range of primate, birding, safari, and adventure options across the country. The capital Kampala is a buzzing and popular city.Very simple. No need to specify a gorilla family or accommodation.
Where to stayMatching accommodation location to your gorilla permit is important. This is when local operators come in handy.A two-night stay is recommended. One-night (and even same-day) options are available but not recommended.
DifficultyThe terrain is often steep, slippery, and sometimes muddy. Tracking through the jungle can be tricky and requires trackers to hack a path with machetes.Generally, easier terrain to climb, except on the longer tracks.
Trip durationOwing to the remote location, you’ll need a minimum two-night stay in the gorilla tracking area.A two-night stay is recommended. One-night (and even same-day) options are available but not recommended.
Other activitiesIt is an eight- to 10-hour drive from Entebbe International Airport. Fly-in options to airstrips within 30 30-minute drive from gorilla tracking areas are available.Rwanda has a limited (but decent) range of wildlife and safari activities, including Akagera National Park (a “big five” destination) and Nyungwe Forest National Park (for chimp tracking).
AccessIt is a 3-hour drive from Kigali International Airport. Fly-in options to local airstrips, including helicopter transfers, are available.A 3-hour drive from Kigali International Airport. Fly-in options to local airstrips, including helicopter transfers, are available.
Rwanda vs Uganda Gorilla trekking

Trekking Gorillas in Uganda

Uganda’s diverse landscapes are a gorilla haven! With two gorilla sanctuaries – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – Uganda offers incredible trekking opportunities unlike anywhere else. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to almost half of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas.

Pros: Why Uganda Should Be Your Gorilla Destination

  • Affordability: Uganda’s gorilla permits are significantly cheaper than Rwanda’s, making it a fantastic choice for budget-minded adventurers.
  • Wildlife Wonderland: Combine your gorilla trek with incredible safaris in one of Uganda’s ten national parks. Spot lions, elephants, chimpanzees, and more!
  • More Gorillas, More Options: With 20 habituated gorilla groups (and more to come!), Uganda provides flexibility and choice in your trekking experience.
  • Accessibility: Reach Bwindi easily by flying into Kigali, Rwanda, and taking a scenic 3-hour drive. Chartered and scheduled flights from Entebbe to Kisoro or Kihihi Airstrip (1.5 hr-drive from the gorilla sanctuary) are also available.
  • Golden Monkey Bonus: Mgahinga Gorilla National Park offers the unique chance to trek both gorillas and golden monkeys!
  • Accommodations for Everyone: Find the perfect stay, from budget-friendly camps to luxurious lodges nestled amidst breathtaking scenery.
  • Gorilla Habituation Experience: Spend up to 4 hours with a gorilla family for the same price as a regular permit in Rwanda ($1500) – an unforgettable opportunity.
  • English-Friendly: Communication is a breeze in Uganda, where English is widely spoken.

Cons: Things to Consider

  • The Long Drive: Getting to Bwindi from Entebbe can be a bone-jarring 10-hour journey. Chartered flights or flying into Kigali offer more convenient options.
  • Rainy Season Challenges: Some roads in Bwindi can be difficult to navigate during the rainy season.
  • Festival Factor: Uganda doesn’t have a dedicated gorilla festival like Rwanda’s annual baby naming ceremony.
  • Dense Foliage: Bwindi’s lush vegetation can make it a bit trickier to get clear gorilla photos.
  • Flight Costs: Chartered flights within Uganda tend to be on the pricier side.
  • Navigating Park Offices: Bwindi’s multiple park offices and starting points might be a bit confusing for first-time visitors.

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Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Rwanda offers a luxurious and convenient gorilla trekking experience. Volcanoes National Park is easily reached with a short, 3-hour drive from the airport on well-maintained roads. The park itself is compact and well-organized, with excellent infrastructure and highly-trained guides ensuring a seamless trip.

Pros: Why Rwanda Is a Top Choice

  • Ease and Convenience: Volcanoes National Park’s trails offer less dense vegetation and generally smoother hikes for fantastic gorilla viewing.
  • Luxury Lodges: Rwanda caters to travelers seeking high-end accommodations and exceptional service amidst stunning scenery.
  • Unique Cultural Experiences: Immerse yourself in Rwanda’s cultural festivals with the vibrant annual baby gorilla naming festival or participate in Umuganda Day, a monthly community service initiative.
  • Golden Monkey Bonus: Combine gorilla trekking with the chance to spot the park’s charismatic golden monkeys.
  • Volcano Adventure: Add an exhilarating volcano hike to your itinerary for breathtaking views and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Intimate Encounters: With only 10 habituated gorilla groups, Rwanda offers the potential for smaller, more exclusive trekking experiences.

Cons: Things to Keep in Mind

  • The Cost Factor: Gorilla permits in Rwanda come with a hefty price tag, making it less budget-friendly.
  • Limited Availability: With fewer gorillas overall and high demand, securing permits in Rwanda often requires booking well in advance.
  • Beyond Gorillas: Rwanda offers fewer options for classic African safaris, with only one savannah wildlife reserve.
  • Exclusive Accommodations: Lodging choices lean towards the luxurious side, which might not suit budget travelers.
  • Smaller Share for Communities: Only 10% of permit revenue goes to local communities, a potential concern for conservation-minded travelers.
  • Potential Language Barrier: French and Kinyarwanda are widely spoken, which could present a challenge for some visitors.
  • Physically Demanding: The higher altitude and volcano hikes can make for altitude sickness during your trekking experience.

Important Note: Rwanda does not offer gorilla habituation experiences, which allow for longer, in-depth encounters with the gorillas.

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Booking a Gorilla Trekking Safari

When it comes to choosing between Uganda and Rwanda for gorilla trekking, it’s important to remember that the experience truly matters. It’s all about finding the destination that aligns with your travel goals, budget, and comfort zone.

But why settle for just gorilla trekking? Uganda and Rwanda offer so much more to explore. Combine your gorilla trekking adventure with a visit to Kenya’s Masai Mara or Tanzania’s Serengeti for the riveting Annual Wildebeest Migration safari. Or, if you prefer to stay closer to your gorilla trekking destinations, Uganda also boasts stunning savannah game parks, such as Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, and Kidepo National Parks.

For an uninterrupted and hassle-free experience, consider booking with a licensed gorilla safari company like Nkuringo Safaris, one of the pioneering safari operators in Uganda. Their trips are completely customizable, and local experts will take care of everything from processing your gorilla permit to booking your accommodations and managing your itinerary. With us, you can focus on enjoying every moment of your journey.

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Rwanda vs Uganda Gorilla Trekking: Which is Better?
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