Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda versus Uganda: Which is the Best?

Having organized safaris to both Rwanda, Uganda and now Central African Republic, one of the most common questions I encounter is: “Which country offers the best gorilla trekking experience?” The answer isn’t straightforward, as both countries offer unique experiences. Let’s dive into a comparative analysis to help you make an informed decision. We will cover the Central African Republic in another post.

A mother gorilla with baby on her chest.
Photo Credit: Culbert

1. Accessibility and Location

Rwanda:

  • Volcanoes National Park is just a 2.5-hour drive from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. This proximity makes it convenient for travelers with limited time.

Uganda:

  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are further from Kampala, Uganda’s capital, requiring a longer journey. However, the scenic drive through the Ugandan countryside is an experience in itself and I highly recommend it!

2. Cost

Rwanda:

  • The gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda is priced at $1,500 per person. While it’s on the higher side, the revenue significantly contributes to conservation efforts and community development.
  • Rwanda ’s accommodation and infrastructure is generally more upscale and has more luxury options.

Uganda:

  • At $700 per person, Uganda’s permit is more affordable. This cost difference can be a deciding factor for budget-conscious travelers, and those wishing to do multiple treks.

3. Trekking Experience

Rwanda:

  • The treks in Volcanoes National Park are generally considered less strenuous, with clearer paths and shorter trekking durations. This can be ideal for those who might be concerned about the physical demands.

Uganda:

  • Bwindi’s dense forest offers a more challenging trek, often taking longer to find the gorillas. However, many find this rugged experience more authentic and rewarding.

4. Gorilla Families and Interaction

  • Both countries offer a high chance of spotting gorillas, but the interaction varies:

Rwanda:

  • With around 10 habituated gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park, the encounters are more predictable. The gorillas here are accustomed to human presence, often resulting in longer and closer interactions.

Uganda:

  • Bwindi is home to a larger number of gorilla families. While the encounters are equally magical, they can sometimes be shorter due to the vastness of the forest.

5. Additional Wildlife and Activities

Rwanda:

Apart from gorillas, you can also trek to see the golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park and chimpanzee in in Nyungwe Forest. There are cultural experiences, like visiting the Iby’iwacu Cultural Village or the Batwa community that add richness to the Rwandan experience. Also, a visit to The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund is a wonderful way to learn more about gorillas and their conservation.

Uganda:

Uganda offers a broader range of wildlife experiences. In addition to gorillas in Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks, golden monkeys in Mgahinga National Park and chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, you can see tree-climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Additionally, Kidepo National Park possesses all the classic African safari wildlife along with exceptional birdlife and as does Murchison Falls with its spectacular scenery. A visit to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary caps off the big five.

Conclusion

Deciding between Rwanda and Uganda for gorilla trekking is a personal choice, each offering its unique allure. But remember, the success of your trek doesn’t just depend on the location but also on the quality of the itinerary. With years of experience both traveling and organizing safaris in both countries, I can provide insights, tips, and a tailored experience that ensures your gorilla trek is nothing short of magical.

Don’t leave your once-in-a-lifetime adventure to chance. 

Contact me today to plan your unforgettable gorilla safari, ensuring you get the best of what Rwanda and Uganda have to offer. Witnessing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is transformative, and I’m here to guide you every step of the way. Let’s embark on this journey together!