There is absolutely no mistaking the bond that exists between man and a mountain gorilla while on the other hand there is no mistaking the excitement derived from getting up close and personal with the endangered mountain while also states the reason why Gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda is a bucket List Adventure in either Bwindi impenetrable national park or volcanoes National Park.
Uganda and Rwanda are The two Top best places to trek mountain Gorillas in Africa because of safety, Experience. Organization, number of gorillas, location and much more reasons. Uganda commonly known as the pearl of Africa while Rwanda known as the country of a thousand hills both are proud homes of the endangered mountain Gorillas for an exciting gorilla safari. Uganda is located in East Africa while Rwanda is located on the south boarder of Uganda. Uganda’s mountain gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable national Park and mgahinga national park while the mountain Gorillas in Rwanda are found in Parc volcanoes on the slopes of Virunga mountains mischief
Out of a little above 1000 endangered mountain Gorillas still left in the world, Half of these call Bwindi Forest national park home while the rest are distributed between Rwanda and the Congo all in the Virunga mountains. Uganda has 5 groups and a total of 20 habituated mountain Gorilla families for human presence while Rwanda has 12 families all habituated for human presence.
Much as mountain Gorilla trekking is the ultimate wildlife adventure for you, there are quit many considerations before you choose or while planning for the gorilla safari a lifetime wildlife encounter. Here is a guide to Planning a gorilla safari in Uganda or Rwanda.
Gorilla Trek Safari Location and Accessibility.
Gorilla Trek safari in Uganda is done in Bwindi impenetrable national park and mgahinga national parks southern parts of Uganda bordering Congo in the west and Rwanda to the south. Accessing Bwindi or mgahinga is by road is a -/+ 9 hours drive from Entebbe international airport or you can opt for a 2 hours charter flight from Entebbe or Kajansi to either Kisoro airstrip or Kihihi airstrip. Bwindi forest national Park can also be accessed through Kigali international airport in Rwanda (which is actually much closer) through either Cyanika Boarder or Katuna boarder by road. Most international airlines like Brussels, KLM, Ethiopian airlines, Rwanda air fly right into Entebbe international airport or Kigali International airport.
Driving by road to Bwindi Forest national park by road requires a dedicated drive to Bwindi while you plan to do the Gorilla trekking the next day, This gives you a chance to visit or see much of the traditional life of the Ugandan person. There are always stopovers along the way and so much to learn as an enthusiastic traveller _ They are small things but are still big memories to hold onto. The 2 hours flight is exceedingly beautiful as you fly over the mountains and lakes with super eagles eye view.
Driving To Virunga volcanoes in Rwanda from Kigali international airport or Kigali is more easier and shorter. It takes roughly 2hours drive from Kigali to Musanze kinigi or opt to take on a 45 minutes helicopter ride to kinigi.
Gorilla Trek safari in Uganda or Rwanda can be done with a combination of wildlife safaris in Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park or Kidepo National Park in Uganda while Nyungwe National Park and Akagera national parks are a great combination with Volcanoes National Park In Rwanda.
Gorilla Trek families
Rwanda has about 12 habituated Gorilla trek families for human presence while Uganda has 20 Gorilla trek families available for Human presence. The Gorillas in Bwindi forest national park have four groups which are Buhoma, Ruhijja, Rushaga and Nkuringo while the other one family calls Mgahinga national Park home _ shared with Rwanda as the gorilla family normally crosses over from Uganda to Rwanda. The Gorillas in Rwanda are usually in big numbers between 15 to 40 individuals for most groups while in Uganda families are divided and range between 10 – 20 individuals per family.
Interestingly, Out of the little above 1000 remaining endangered mountain Gorillas, Half of these mountain Gorillas call Bwindi impenetrable national Park or Mgahinga national park home. Uganda takes on the biggest number of the Mountain Gorillas while the rest are distributed in Rwanda and The Congo.
Gorilla trek safari families are limited to 8 persons to maximum each day in both Rwanda and Uganda which is a strategy for the conservation and sustainably of the mountain Gorillas. There are also chances to do Gorilla habituation experience in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable national park unlike in Rwanda where Gorilla trek safari is limited ONLY to Gorilla Trekking experiences.
The terrain in Bwindi Forest while on a gorilla trek safari is mixed with descending and ascending of the hills in the bwindi impenetrable national park while the gorilla trek safari in Volcanoes national park Rwanda is more of bamboo vegetation, one way up and one way sloping back.
Price for Gorilla trek safari Permit.
Gorilla trek permit is the permission card that clears for you to go for the Gorilla trek safari in both Bwindi Forest, Mgahinga and Virunga volcanoes national park. Gorilla Permits are issued by government bodies Uganda Wildlife authority in Uganda and Rwanda development Board in Rwanda.
Gorilla trek permits and Gorilla trek habituation permits in Uganda cost USD 700 and USD 1500 respectively while Gorilla trek Permits in Rwanda cost USD 1500 for all travellers. Gorilla trek Permits are usually in high demand during the peak season for both countries since only 8 persons are allowed to visit a particular gorilla family per day. There are two seasons in Uganda and Rwanda and high demand gorilla trek permits from June until August as peak season, September until November as Low season, December until Feb as High seasons while March until April as Low rainy seasons.
The months of Peak and high seasons, Gorilla permits are on high demand which is recommended to book the permits way in advance preferably 6 months in advance. However you can always get Gorilla trek permits on last minute in the low seasons. Gorilla trek Permits in Rwanda and Uganda are constant throughout the year and always available at all times.
The Gorilla trek
When a Gorilla trek permit is secured, a particular day as requested and assigned to you for the ultimate Gorilla trek. On The day for the gorilla trek, Your tour operator Driver guide will lead you to the briefing point. At the General briefing a ranger guide will be assigned to you and will be joined by other guests to a max of 8 persons and maybe take on porters for the gorilla trek safari excursion.
Gorilla trek in Uganda is within the old rainforest of Bwindi impenetrable forest, Sometime dark canopy’s envelop you while finding pathways where Gorillas are, is much harder as sometimes you require making a way through the thick vegetation, worry not, That’s what the rangers are for. They will always find or cut ways through the bushes for you to find the Gentle giants in the forest. Questions like Do Mountain Gorilla make are answered with more burning questions
In the Dry season, Pathways in Bwindi forest national park are drier than the wet seasons but is so rewarding within the forest. On the other hand, in Mgahinga Uganda and Virunga’s in Rwanda, are vegetated with Bamboo grasslands and volcanic rocks with reasonable pathways to find the Gorillas. The Photography in the bamboo mgahinga and Virunga volcanoes is clearer and more super than the Bwindi but all depends on settings and lighting of the cameras.
Gorilla trek safaris sometimes require driving to the main starting points which are a little far from the briefing points. Accessing the starting points in the mountains are a little tricky with vehicles, we recommend 4×4 safari vehicles for gorilla trek safari experiences and beyond during a gorilla safari.
Safari Lodges & accommodations
There are quite a number of beautiful budget, midrange and luxury Gorilla trek safari Lodges in Both Rwanda and Uganda Gorilla parks. Uganda has quite a wide variety of safari lodges and chances you can get shoe string Budget lodges which would be a myth in Rwanda. There are quite a number of midrange lodge ranging from USD 150 to USD 300 per person per night well situated and closer to the park. Lodges like Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Mutanda lake resort, Four Gorillas Lodge, havens Lodge in Buhoma and Buhoma Lodge are quite great choice of midrange lodges in Uganda. A good number of luxury gorilla trek lodges surround Bwindi and mgahinga national park. Such Luxury lodges include Virunga Lodge in Buhoma, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge in Nkuringo sector and Gahinga Lodge in Mgahinga national Park have a true taste of luxury touch.
Rwanda on the other hand has of last 5 year’s embarked on continuously branding itself as a luxury destination and has its share of midrange and luxury outfits around the volcanoes national park for Gorilla trek safari experiences. Five Volcanoes, Singita and Bisate lodges are some of the best luxury outfits around the Volcanoes national park in Rwanda while midrange lodges like Mountain view gorilla lodges and la’ bamboo are some of the best midrange outfits in the volcanoes national park. Midrange lodge charge in between USD 150 and USD 350 per person per day while Luxury outfits charge between $700 to $1800 per person per day.
Availability of midrange and luxury outfits are subject to availability in Uganda and Rwanda. There are high chances for last minute bookings during the Low season however we recommend booking in advance about 2 to 3 months in advance, On the other hand, Luxury lodges are most times fully booked as gorilla trek days come closer whether low or peak season so we recommend to plan your gorilla trek safari with the luxury lodge way in advance about 6 to 8 months so you are sure to have the perfect Luxury trip for you.
Tour operator Handling the Gorilla Trek safari
There are quite a number of destination management companies in Uganda and Rwanda that can professionally handle a gorilla trek safari for you. The ground handlers like Gorilla walking safaris are a perfect outfit can help book and secure Gorilla trek safaris in Bwindi impenetrable national park, Mgahinga in Uganda and volcanoes national park in Rwanda.
You may want to look around some of the best tour operators that are well associated with prestigious associations like Association of Uganda tour operators or Rwanda tour Operators so you are sure are dealing with a good reputable Tour operator for your Gorilla trek safari in Uganda or Rwanda.
You may also want to deal with tour operators in Uganda or Rwanda that have a conservation and Sustainable initiatives who dedicate some of their earnings for special cause. Its either supporting the protection of Gorillas or extend a hand in the sustainability of Communities around the Gorilla trek safari destinations, In this way you are sure that apart from having a lifetime Gorilla trek Safari, you are directly or indirectly supporting the conservation and sustainably initiatives around the Gorilla trek safari destinations.
An all-inclusive Gorilla Trek safari by tour operator in Uganda or Rwanda depending on the trip travel period and lodges used can cost anything between $1200 to $1500 for budget short trips, between $2300 -$5000 For midrange Trip and accommodations while luxury and flying safaris can cost in-between $500 to $ 19000 per person for a trip. Amounts all depend on number of days with a combination of other destinations in a country, The type of accommodations, Number of days, Ways of travel between destinations like road, using 4×4 safari Landcruisers or using Domestic flights between destinations. You can always get in touch with your preferred tour operator and have the right figure for a gorilla trek safari.
Gorilla Trek safari can be combined with Awesome wildlife encounters in various destinations in Uganda & Rwanda.