Uganda and Rwanda still stand out as Africa’s most visited countries when it comes to gorilla trekking, which country is the best to visit? A visit to these two East Africa for gorilla trekking is a lifetime opportunity to explore more about the endangered mountain gorillas. An estimated population of 1063 mountain gorillas, the sub-species of Eastern gorillas still live on planet earth. They live in the 3 East-Central African states- Rwanda, DRC, and Uganda.
Mountain gorilla population per destination
With only 1063 mountain gorillas left on earth, Uganda hosts almost half of them, and about 30% live in Rwanda. Interestingly, Uganda has 2 locations with 5 sectors where tourists can begin their journey to see, interact and take pictures of the massive mountain gorillas in the jungles. The parks to visit for gorilla trekking in Uganda include Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, all these 2 conservation areas are located in far Southwestern Uganda.
Rwanda’s mountain gorillas occupy the Volcanoes National Park, one of the Virunga Conservation Areas located in the Northwestern side of the country. 12 habituated gorilla families live in this park alone, and they are open to gorilla tourism. This is almost half of Uganda’s habituated gorilla families. In Uganda, 21 groups of mountain gorillas are open for tracking, and 20 of them are in Bwindi then one lives in only Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Gorilla permit price comparison
Visiting gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda is possible, but only for guests who travel to the parks with valid gorilla permits. The rates for gorilla trekking permits differ, with Rwanda issuing its gorilla permits at USD1500 per visitor, making it a favorite high-end gorilla destination.
Unlike Rwanda, Uganda is a preferred budget gorilla destination although luxury safaris are also possible to be arranged. Each of valid gorilla permit in Uganda costs USD700- for foreign non-residents, East African citizens shs 250,000 while foreign residents USD600 per person.
Whether you plan to enjoy up close with mountain gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda, you need a gorilla permit, and it should be obtained early before an actual visit to see gorilla families in the wild. We encourage all our clients to ensure that their Uganda or Rwanda gorilla permits are secured at least 2–4 months/1 year before traveling to enjoy a gorilla tour.
Distance from city centres
Before undertaking a gorilla trek either in Rwanda or Uganda, visitors have to travel up to the parks and these are located a bit far from the city center. In Uganda, a road trip from Kampala or Entebbe city to Bwindi or Mgahinga Park, it takes visitors from 8–9 hours. From Kigali to Volcanoes Park, it takes guests about 2–3 hours to drive.
There are alternative options that make your connectivity easier to your distant destinations for instance in Uganda, you can fly from Entebbe International Airport to Kisoro/Kihihi airstrip. Connecting from Kinigi/Kisoro airstrips to Mgahinga/Bwindi is easier since it takes about 1 hour’s drive, and you would have saved much time.
Rwanda and Uganda all have a variety of lodging or accommodation options- budget, midrange, and luxury. Uganda’s lodges are relatively budget-friendly, and in Rwanda, most accommodation choices are high-end for instance Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Bisate Lodge, Five Volcanoes, and others.
Both Uganda and Rwanda have options for guests to enjoy other experiences other than gorilla trekking. These include chimpanzee trekking although in Rwanda, you have 2 options- Nyungwe Forest and Gishwati-Mukura NP, and in Uganda, there are over 5 locations that tourists can visit to trek chimpanzees in the African jungles. Game drives in Uganda are carried out in over 4 destinations, with an opportunity for guests to get up close and personal with the tree-climbing lions, and this is opposed to only one location in Rwanda- Akagera National Park.