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Gorilla Safaris in Uganda Vs Rwanda

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Bwindi Gorilla Safari

Uganda and Rwanda have been prime mountain gorilla destinations in Africa. The two countries are home to the endangered mountain gorilla species together with their neighbor state Democratic Republic of Congo. In this article, we will access the mountain gorilla safari in Uganda with that of Rwanda based on the features that make a gorilla trip exceptional.

What makes a gorilla safari exceptional?          

The question ‘what makes a gorilla safari exceptional’ depends on how one is moved during his or her once in a life time safari. Seeing more than half of the world’s rare mountain gorillas is undoubtedly an exceptional experience.  Here are a number of other things that make your gorilla trip exceptional, call it exceptional experience in both Uganda and Rwanda. Here are some of those factors; trekking experience, location, terrain, accessibility, quality of accommodation, transportation, among others. Using the fore mentioned qualities, here is how Uganda gorilla safaris differ from those of Rwanda.

In Uganda

What does Uganda have to offer for gorilla safaris?

Uganda offers an out of the ordinary gorilla trekking experience. This is only enjoyed in two destinations Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park located in the south western part of Uganda. Visitors who choose to trek mountain gorillas in Uganda are usually at liberty to choose between gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation experiences or even both as long as one can afford the service rates and at the end of the trekking experience, each visitor is usually awarded certificates as a token of recognition for their enthusiasm to take on the adventure.

Where can one track gorillas in Uganda?

Uganda has two locations where a visitor can trek mountain gorillas. Here is an over view of the two national parks which reward guests with an ultimate gorilla experience;

Over view about Bwindi Impenetrable national park

It is located in south western Uganda in an impenetrable forest. The national park is home to over 400 mountain gorillas with a total of 18 habituated gorilla families. This number of mountain gorillas ranks Uganda as the country with the highest mountain gorilla population having close to half of the world’s population. With this in mind, visitors are guaranteed of seeing mountain gorillas when they track in Bwindi impenetrable national park.

Over view about Mgahinga gorilla national park

Mgahinga gorilla national park just like Bwindi is found in south western Uganda along the border of Uganda and Rwanda. The national park is home to over 50 mountain gorillas with one habituated gorilla group called Nyakagezi. Mgahinga is an ideal mountain gorilla destination for guests who prefer a less crowded environment although securing a gorilla trekking permit for such an experience should be done months prior due to the fact that there is only one habituated gorilla family unlike Bwindi Impenetrable national park which has several.

How do you get to the gorilla destinations in Uganda?

Travelling to Bwindi impenetrable national park from Kampala is usually about 473.9 km approximately 8- 10 hours’ drive by road. On the other hand, Mgahinga gorilla is 494.8 km approximately 10-12 hours’ drive by road. Alternatively, you can fly to Kigali International Airport and then drive to south western Uganda through Katuna Boarder – Proceed to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park (3-4hrs drive). With reference to the above travel distance, its un doubtable Uganda has more travel distance in case a visitor chooses to travel by road from Kampala or Entebbe Airport to country’s gorilla destinations. Chartered flights can also be arranged from Kajjansi air strip or Entebbe old Airport to Kisoro air strip or Kihihi Airstrip for visitors who prefer to avoid long hours of driving. Upon arrival in Kisoro or Kihihi, guests can drive to Bwindi or Mgahinga gorilla national park depending on the location one is meant to track.

What is the cost of a gorilla permit in Uganda?

Currently a gorilla permit in Uganda costs 600 USD although this price will charge to 700 USD effective July 2020. For many guests interested in mountain gorilla safaris, this is quite affordable for guests even those interested in a budget gorilla safari compared to Rwanda where the cost of a gorilla permit is twice that for Uganda.

How is the gorilla trekking done in Uganda?

The memorable gorilla trekking experience begins with guests being briefed about what is expected of them during the tracking experience. Later, visitors grouped into eight where each group is assigned park rangers. Thereafter, the groups embark on the journey to the tracking trails on a quest to find the rare mountain gorilla species. The trekking adventure takes 30 minutes to three hours depending on the movement of a gorilla family a visitor has planned to track. Visitors are the then allowed a one-hour unforgettable moment with a gorilla group after which they head back to the park.

Are there variations in regard to terrain, what is its effect on tracking?

Different sectors of Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable national park have different elevations and these require different hiking strengths. Trekking mountain gorillas at Ruhija sector in Bwindi requires visitors to possess great hiking abilities due to high elevations unlike other sectors at the park which makes the trekking longer compared to other sectors. The beauty with Uganda’s elevation differences is that it offers both simpler and complex hikes therefore a visitor is free to choose which tracking trail is comfortable depending on one’s ability, interest, health status and age among others.

What other excursions can guests enjoy in Uganda?

Uganda is christened the pearl of Africa because the country is a rich destination for adventure. These range from wild animals, mountains, lakes, rivers, hospitable people and many others. Visitors to the pearl get to enjoy a variety of activities apart from gorilla trekking such as white-water rafting, game drive, boat cruise, hot air balloon trips and so much more unlike in Rwanda where the activities are rather limited. This makes the country (Uganda) an incredible safari destination in the world.

What nature of accommodation is enjoyed in Uganda while on a gorilla safari?

There are several lodging services in the park and outside the park which visitors can book while on gorilla safaris to Uganda. These accommodation facilities often times range from luxury accommodation; to mid- range and budget accommodation. They include Silverback Safari lodge, Buhoma lodge, Volcanoes safari Bwindi lodge, Gorilla resort, Buhoma community rest camp, Gorilla safari lodge, Ruhija gorilla safari lodge, Nkuringo gorilla camp among others.

In Rwanda

What does Rwanda have to offer for gorilla safaris?

Rwanda has branded itself as a luxurious gorilla destination which is evident from its road network, accommodation and trekking experience visitors enjoy when they visit its largest national park Volcanoes destination.

Where can one track gorillas in Rwanda?

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is only possible in the country’s largest national park- Volcanoes national park. Here is an overview of Volcanoes national park;

Over view about Volcanoes national park         

Located in northwestern Rwanda, Volcanoes national park is lies on 160 sq km in Musanze town, Ruhengeri province. Volcanoes national park is situated along the larger Virunga region with a unique ever green forest and is home to the endangered mountain gorilla species. The park has a total of ten habituated gorilla families although one (Hirwa gorilla group) recently migrated to Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda. The park is a popular gorilla trekking destination as it offers an incredible gorilla wilderness adventure in the African continent

How do you get to the gorilla destination in Rwanda?

Volcanoes national park is located north east of Rwanda near Uganda in the north and Democratic Republic of Congo in the west. The park is 2 hours’ drive on a smooth road from Kigali- Rwanda’s capital. Unlike Uganda whose road network is quite rough, Rwanda offers somewhat better road drives compared to ones in Uganda with a less road distance from the capital city to the gorilla safari destination.

What is the cost of a gorilla permit in Rwanda?

Rwanda charges a fee of 1500 USD for a visitor interested in tracking gorillas. This fee includes park entry charges and guide charges. This in my opinion is quite expensive compared to Uganda’s 600 USD for a gorilla permit especially for visitors interested in budget gorilla safaris.

How is the gorilla trekking done in Rwanda?

Mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda is so exciting, adventurous, fun and Educative. Early in the morning before the trek, visitors in Rwanda are treated to a cup of coffee and an amazing cultural performance. After this experience, visitors are briefed about their conduct in preparation for the tracking after which they take on the adventure to track gorillas in their habitat. Like Uganda, trekkers are allowed one hour with the gorillas, after which they head back to the starting location. At the end of the trekking experience, each guest is awarded a certification to appreciate his or her engagement in the activity.

Are there variations in regard to the terrain, what is its effect on tracking?

Rwanda has shorter hikes which visitors take on to track the mountain gorillas. Guests often trek for shorter distances and the elevation is not too steep. Therefore, in case one is interested in less hardness then Rwanda gorilla safari would be an ideal choice.

What other excursions can guests enjoy in Rwanda?

Apart from gorilla safaris, Rwanda rewards its visitors with a few other activities such as golden monkey trekking, birding, Kigali Genocide memorial museum, and cultural encounters at Ibyiwacu cultural centre. This is different from Uganda where a visitor has a variety of other attractions to visit. Thus, in case a visitor is interested in exploring more attraction than mountain gorillas, Uganda would be an ideal destination to enjoy this.

What nature of accommodation is enjoyed in Rwanda while on a gorilla safari?

Being Rwanda’s top safari destination, Volcanoes national park offers a wide range of places for accommodation. These vary from Luxury, mid-range to Budget accommodation depending on services and the visitor’s budget. These accommodation establishments are usually a few minutes’ drive to the park and easily accessible. These include: Bisate lodge, Virunga lodge, Sabyinyo silverback lodge, Garr hotel, Beat view, Muhabura hotel, Kinigi guest house and many more.

In conclusion, the question of whether its Uganda or Rwanda lies on which form of gorilla safari adventure a visitor is interested in. In my opinion, Uganda offers what I have chosen to call ‘mid- range’ gorilla safaris and Rwanda offers ‘luxurious’ gorilla safaris. However, the two countries are undoubtedly amazing mountain gorilla destinations.

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