Gorilla Walking Safaris

Uganda Or Rwanda: Where is the Best Place to Go Mountain Gorilla Trekking

Is it Uganda or is it Rwanda for mountain Gorilla Trekking? Many times, this kind of question comes up when African the urge for mountain Gorilla Trekking comes up and when Africa is calling.

Uganda and Rwanda are neighbor countries proud homes to one of the great attractions in the world – The Endangered Mountain Gorillas. The Gentle Giants reside in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Virunga mountains shared between Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. These countries receive quite a big number of visitors coming to explore the remaining big apes in the world in combination of Wildlife safaris in the two countries. Gorilla Tracking is the major pulling factor of tourists visiting Rwanda and Uganda and most of the Carefully crafted itineraries include Mountain Gorilla Trekking either at the start or end of the Trip.

If you have already done or planning on doing Mountain Gorilla Trekking, Common questions come up from Friends and family back home like how do you Compare Gorilla Tracking in Uganda and Rwanda or where and why do you want to do gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda. How similar or different is it like in Mountain Gorilla Trekking in both Countries.  Let’s look into this.

Gorilla Trekking In Uganda

Uganda is blessed to have two Gorilla parks, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park but somewhat closer to each other. Bwindi forest is quite separate from Mgahinga which is on the Virunga mountains shared between 3 Countries. The topography of land and the nature of the forests for Bwindi and Mgahinga are quite different and only separated by land.

Bwindi National Park is commonly refered to as the the impenetrable forest because of its thick forest with big and thick canopy areas while moving through or better say penetrating through. Although it is thick and impenetrable, it is also easily movable and doable by guests and the rangers. Gorilla tracking is done in this forest and there are different gorilla families in different regions of the forest. Rangers and park guides sometimes move with machetes to clear the way for visitors hiking to see the gentle apes in the jungle. Being thick doesn’t mean it is impassible and that you will not see the gorillas, Gorilla Trekking is done each and every day while there is no day that guests have missed encountering the mountain gorillas.

Considering the forest being thick, this at times makes photo shooting not clear enough as required but of course they are always beautiful pictures during bad weather. With Bad weather, I mean Fog and mist times including canopy shades within the forest that hinder good lighting for professional photography. This is different from the Virunga Gorilla parks with bamboo vegetation where the forest is a bit light clear, making the photos a little much better.

Bwindi National Park is big, it has 4 regions with a group of Mountain Gorillas and each region has headquarters or starting point and specific gorilla families. This makes Bwindi Impenetrable National Park managed by Uganda wildlife authority unique from other gorilla parks with only one Headquarter or entrance. No wonder the park has more than half of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world. This has positioned the park as one of the favorite spots for international visitors seeking Mountain Gorilla Trekking ultimate experiences..

Related Story: Mountain Gorillas – Following The Great Apes In Virunga Massif Mgahinga National Park


Gorillas in Bwindi
A Silverback Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi impenetrable Forest National Park. Photo Credit: Frank Jacobs

Price Tag For Gorilla Permits In Uganda & Rwanda

Mountain Gorilla permits in Uganda cost 700 USD. This is quite Affordable compared to Rwanda’s permit which costs USD 1500 . For budget wise decisions this leaves a margin of saved dollars your side when you opt for mountain Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi forest Uganda. This is basically one of the many great reasons guests choose to visit Uganda for gorilla tracking over Rwanda.

Even though Mountain gorillas are the same in both Countries, the amount put aside for the trip in East Africa can be a major determinant as to where you opt to track Mountain gorillas.

Mgahinga National Park is quite different from Bwindi in vegetaion and terrain and gorilla population, it has only one habituated gorilla family that belongs to Uganda territory but sometimes will cross over to Rwanda side and yes will belong to Rwanda- As always the saying, Wildlife have no territories or bounderies. The mgahinga national park is part of Virunga Mountains shared between the 3 countries. The price is the same for tracking in Bwindi forest National Park and Mgahinga national Park.

As mentioned earlier, the Virunga Forest is quite not so thick compare to Bwindi forest and this makes Mgahinga National Park a better and good option for clear photos of Mountain Gorillas.

Mgahinga National park offers another Albertine Endemic attraction, the Golden Monkey Tracking. Even though both Bwindi and Mgahinga have other activities and attractions to offer, Golden monkeys are rarely seen else where except in Virungas and that is one of those special reasons to come visit Uganda.

Location, Accessibility and Terrain

Both Bwindi and Mgahinga are located in Western Uganda, it is approximately a full day drive from Entebbe international airport to bwindi as point of Entry to this park. This is one of the disadvantages of tracking Mountain gorillas in Uganda but for those that enjoy just more than the gorillas, seeing the beautiful countryside of Uganda, then this is absolutely the best country to visit for your Mountain Gorilla trekking.

It takes between 8 – 9 hours drive from Entebbe to Bwindi national Park and normally you would require minimally 3 days and 2 nights for an awesome Gorilla Trekking safari.  There is an option to connect into Rwanda and arrive about 4 hours to Bwindi while this includes crossing Gatuna or Cyanika Boarders into Uganda. And this reduces on the driving distances as the major advantage.

It is surprisingly easier and quicker arriving Bwindi or Mgahinga through Kanombe airport in Rwanda than it is going through Entebbe international Airport towards Bwindi or Mgahinga National Parks for Gorilla Trekking. Some guests can add a trip in Rwanda first exploring what Rwanda has to offer and then cross to Uganda. This is very suitable for well curated Cross border safaris.

Another option of accessing Bwindi or Mgahinga national Parks is through the daily domestic flights to Kisoro airstrip on the south of Bwindi Forest or Kihihi airstrip on the western region of Bwindi. The Kisoro airstrip would perfectly serve Nkuringo region, Rushaga region and Mgahinga for gorilla trekking and or Golden Monkey trekking.

Bwindi is located at an altitude of about 2400m ASL and in the mountains. First it would require you a good 4×4 vehicle to arrive at the starting points of the park for Gorilla trekking.

Secondly. The terrain in the forest is characterized by ascending and descending in the many hills within Bwindi. This all depends where the Mountain Gorillas were last seen the previous day. The best part is that The Mountain Gorilla territories are always on the lower ends of the forests and sometimes seen within one or two hours of trekking. The gorilla families are always seen in big numbers of between 10 and 25. The Gorilla Families in Bwindi sometimes break away from their families and form their own different Families. This is primarily reason why you will see many families in Uganda than it is in Rwanda.

On the other hand, accessing the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda is on a short distance drive from the major international airport – Kigali than it is for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda. The roads are smooth and asphalt from kanombe until the volcanoes national park in Rwanda.

There are also helicopter services from Kigali or kanombe international airport to Musanze – Kinigi lodges. Volcanoes in Rwanda is ranges between 2000 and 2400 meters above sea level. A great climate for the mountain Gorillas environment.

The terrains while Gorilla trekking in Rwanda volcanoes national Park is through forested areas and bamboo vegetations which is a pulling force for clear photography. The walks are through tiny paths and rocky walkways hiking up to find the Gorillas. It is always one way one up and one way down. Depending on the family you are visiting this day, The time taken can be about 5 – 8 hours depending on where they were left the previous day. The hardest group every trekked has been the Sissa group which requires enough energy to hike through the rocky volcanoes to the Gorilla family.

Gorilla Trekking Tip: Make sure to discuss with your travel consultant or driver guide about your Fitness level and what group you prefer

Mountain Gorilla Bwindi
A Mountain Gorilla In Bwindi Chewing on Plant Shoots: Photo Credit Alex Guma

Best time to Visit Bwindi, Mgahinga or Rwanda for Gorilla Trekking?

You can visit and trek Mountain Gorillas any time in these National parks but there are those best months in dry season that is June, July, August, sept, Jan and February. Most visitors opt to visit in that period. That’s why clients need to book gorilla permits prior like a year before. Some lodges also hike lodge fee during High season. So early preparation is important.

Trekking Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda best time is as same as Uganda which best months are between June and September as the dry season Months. Uganda. These are months with better walkways in the forested paths and no rains to disrupt the Gorilla trekking experience.

The other months of the rainy seasons are also great for Gorilla trekking with good clear weather and super exciting when you have packed well for Gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda.

Related Story: What To Pack For A Gorilla Trekking Safari In Uganda Or Rwanda

Other activities to do in Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks

Both Bwindi, Mgahinga and Volcanoes national Park in Uganda have other activities to explore after Tracking. Some of them include, nature walks, Cultural visits, bird watching, Volcano hikes, Coffee tours, Canoe rides on the crater lakes all arranged by your tour operator for the Mountain Gorilla trekking.

In Rwanda there are also great combinations of activities after Gorilla trekking. The ibyiwachu cultural experience and the Golden monkey trekking are a top notch combination experience. The Mountain hikes to the Bisoke and karisimbi are phenomional while connecting to other destionations like Akagera national Park and Nyungwe national parks are exceptional experiences.

Where to stay in Bwindi, Mgahinga Or Volcanoes In Rwanda

There are quite a good number of top Notch accommodations in the Bwindi and Mgahinga national park surroundings. For midrange options are 4 gorillas Lodge in Rushaga, Mutanda Lake Resort, Cameleone hill Lodge and Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge while the luxury outfits include Gahinga Lodge and Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge. 

There are some of the well tested Gorilla Safari Lodges that are closer to the Gorilla trekking starting points and would offer you the best stays during the Mountain Gorilla trekking experience.

There are some of the well tested Gorilla Safari Lodges that are closer to the Gorilla trekking starting points and would offer you the best stays during the Mountain Gorilla trekking experience.

In Rwanda Volcanoes national parks are high end accommodations suitable for a luxury treat while Gorilla trekking in Rwanda. Singita Kwitonda, Virunga Lodge, One and only Lodge, Governers camp are some of our favourite Gorilla Trekking Safari Lodges to opt for.

Luxury Gorilla Trips That May Interest You

Here are few suggested Itineraries for a Gorilla Trekking In Uganda. These are simply guidelines for completely tailor made journeys crafted just for you.

Uganda Primates

4 Days Luxury Gorilla Safari – Double trekking

Charter a plane to & from a Gorilla safari while getting up close and personal with the gentle giants. 4 Days of Double Gorilla Safari Uganda are very extraordinary rewarding. See More Details

Gorilla safaris In Uganda

8 Days Wings Over Uganda Safari

Travel in style with magical encounters through Uganda safari. Fly from one destination with unique experiences to the other and touch base to extraordinary encounters. Spend your evening on a lit camp fire in our well selected fine lodges. See More Details ..

Gorilla safaris In Uganda

12 Days Fly in Style Gorilla Safari

Fly from one famous destination to the other in search for big cats with vibrant wildlife. Fly above with the spectacular Aerial scenic views to the home of mountain Gorillas of Uganda, staying at Uganda’s best lodges and be rewarded to an inspirational journey. See More Details Here

Watch a Video Of Luxury 3 Days Gorilla Trek

Our Related Travel Stories

gorilla and wildlife safari


They all located in western Uganda. The parks are Bwindi impenetrable  and Mgahinga gorilla National parks. Visitors choose where they prefer to track or they are given advise by the consultants according to the flow of the Itinerary.

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