Gorilla Trekking In Uganda Rwanda Info

About African Mountain Gorillas

Mountain gorillas are the biggest primates in the apes’ family found only in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Mountain gorillas are among the endangered species out listed by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They consist of two sub species and tested to have about 98% of the Human DNA thus one of closest relative of man.

They are habituated in the thick forested areas of the Tropical Rainforest. Mountain gorillas feed on leaves, shoots, fruits and pith. Their foods contain a lot of water and moisture which makes them to rarely take water. They stay in troops headed by a male silver-back that guards the group from the enemies.

Mountain Gorillas have well-coordinated and divided programs reflecting the nature of man’s daily activities. Their morning time is to look for food and their mid-day period is for rest. Resting period is very important time for the gorillas since they use that time for creating and strengthening relationships within the group.

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Mountain Gorillas in Africa

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Gorilla trekking is best done in two national parks. Trekking gorillas in Bwindi National Park offers tourists one of the greatest tracking experiences. On addition tourists can also track down other Primates and also spot different bird species with in the park. Bwindi Impenetrable forest currently has about 13 gorilla families available for tourism purposes, and among these we have Mubare, Habinyanja, Bitukura, Rushegura, Oruzogo, Kyaguriro, Mishaya, Nkuringo, Nshongi, Businjye and Kahunje among others. Uganda also has one gorilla group in Mgahinga National Park known as “Nyakagezi group”. It is available and habituated for tourism purposes. However, this group is not stable as it some times crosses the International boarder to Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo. It should be noted that gorilla tourism in DR Congo is interfered by insecurity in the area, and the destination currently receives very few tourists.

A gorilla trekking permit costs US$600.00 for foreign non residents and can be booked through tour operators, or direct from Uganda Wildlife Authority Headquarters. Foreigners living and working in any of the East African countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi) have a discount of US$125.00 on each gorilla permit. Ugandans have to pay 250.000.00 Uganda Shillings to get a gorilla trekking pass.

Other tourist activities around Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks

In addition to gorilla trekking in Uganda, we have other tourist activities around these parks such as; forest walk through different trails, bird watching, local community tours, Batwa Experience in Bwindi Forest, Batwa Trail, Mt. Gahinga hiking and Golden Monkey tracking in Mgahinga National Park.

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Batwa Experience

Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

On the other hand, tourists can also choose to track Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda to enrich their experiences. Gorilla tracking in Rwanda also provides the best tracking experience and on addition tourists can involve themselves in various activities like bird watching, horseback riding, among others while on their safaris in Rwanda. Volcanoes National Park also has over 10 gorilla families habituated and available for tourism purposes namely; Sabyinyo, Umubano, Karisimbi, Ugenda, Ntambara, Group 13, Susa and Amahoro among others. The price is gorilla permits in Rwanda is a bit higher than Uganda at US$750 compared to Uganda at US$600 for foreign non residents. Foreigners living and working in East Africa with valid work permits pay US$450 per person, while foreigners living and working in Rwanda pay US$350.

Other tourist activities around Volcanoes National Park

According to Mathias, a tour operator from African Jungle Adventures Limited, there are other tourist activities one can undertake in addition to tracking gorillas in Rwanda and among these we have golden monkey tracking, hike to Dian Fossey Tombs, Mountain Bishoke hiking, Mt. Karisimbi hiking, local community walks, Cultural Village tours, Caves Exploration / Caving, Nature walk and meeting gorilla doctors. You can choose to participate in all activities depending on your budget, time and interests. The more the activities, the more the number of days one should spend on the trip.

Musanze Caves Entrance

Musanze Caves Entrance

Gorilla Trekking Lodges in Rwanda and Uganda

We have many accommodation options in and around all mountain gorilla destinations in Uganda and Rwanda, catering for all tourists of all classes. These accommodation options include lodges, hotels, Inn, Motels, Camps and categorized into Budget/basic, Deluxe/Mid range and luxury/High-End options.

Accommodations around Bwindi national Park in Uganda include Gorilla safari lodge, Wagtail Eco Camp, Gorilla Forest camp, Mahogany Springs lodge, Bwindi Safari Lodge, Gorilla Resort, Buhoma community Rest camp, Buhoma Lodge, Gorilla Mist Camp, Gift of Nature Lodge, Bakiga Lodge, Nshongi Gorilla Resort, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Trekkers Tarvan, Cook Land Camp, Nkuringo Camp site, Nkuringo Gorilla Camp and some other hotels, Inns and motels in Kabale and Kisoro Towns. Around Mgahinga National Park we have Gahinga Gorilla Lodge.

On the other hand, among the popular Rwanda gorilla trekking lodges around Volcanoes National Park and nearby Musanze town include Sabyinyo silverback lodge, Virunga Lodge, Gorillas Nest Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View, Le bambou Gorilla lodge, Kinigi Guest House, Villa Gorilla, Volcanoes Gorilla Hotel, Hotel Muhabura, Hotel la Palme and Saint Anne Hotel among others.

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Mahogany Springs Lodge

Uganda and Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Comparison

Some tourists prefer to track gorillas in Uganda and others prefer to to it in Rwanda for different reasons. Some of the major reasons to determine where to take a gorilla trip include price/cost, driving distance, and difficulty.

The cost of gorilla permits in Uganda is much cheaper than in Rwanda by US$150 per gorilla permits as earlier seen above. In addition, Uganda has promotional gorilla permits in low seasons of April, May and November where each permits costs US$350 from US$600.

Regarding driving distance, it takes only 90 minutes to drive from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park in Rwnada. For Uganda side, it takes between 8 to 10 hours drive from Kampala to Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga National Parks. There is a shorter option where one can access Uganda gorilla parks from Kigali (Rwanda) in less than 4hours’ drive via Cyanika or Katuna boarders.

Records have it that, tracking gorillas in Rwanda is much easier / less strenuous compared to Uganda. Also Rwanda has good visibility, one can easily take clear photos and videos unlike in Bwindi Impenetrable forest that can not allow clear photos.

Top 10 African Countries Hosting Gorillas

Gorillas exhibits some similar characteristic with human beings making Gorilla trekking more interesting – looking into the eyes of our close relative is a memorable experience. In Africa, mountain Gorillas, cross River Gorillas and Low land Gorillas are found but in some countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, both Mountain and lowland Gorillas co- exist. Below is the list of countries famous for protecting Gorillas.

1. Nigeria
Cross River gorillas are found only in Cross River State, where the government has invested heavily in tourism infrastructure. However, the chances of seeing gorillas in cross river state are still low. Less than 200 individual gorillas are thought to be here, spread across an area of 12,000 km² which includes Afi Mountain, Mbe Mountain, and the Okwangwo Division of the Cross River National Park. For this reason, scientists are cautious about habituating any.

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Cross River Gorillas

2. Cameroon
Cross River gorillas live in the English-speaking part of Cameroon bordering Nigeria, in small pockets of forest that are the focus of a conservation project but with no tourism component yet. The only captive Cross River Gorillas can be seen at the Limbe Wildlife Centre, which also cares for about 15 WLG orphans with a long-term goal – funding permitting – of rehabilitation back into the wild.

3. Equatorial Guinea
The Monte Alen National Park is a spectacular forested park, and its rugged terrain served to protect it from commercial logging. As yet, there are no habituated Western Lowland Gorillas. The tourism infrastructure is in very early stages of development, and trained locals have started to conduct guided day Gorilla treks.

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Western Low Land Gorillas

4. Gabon
Gabon made a bold bid to diversify its economy by creating 13 National Parks in 2002, most of them containing gorilla habitat. The WLG habituation programme at the Mikongo Conservation Centre in Lopé National Park was terminated in 2010. But although visitors are no longer taken on specific gorilla-spotting treks, visitors can still see them while looking for other animals and birds. Moukalaba-Doudou National Park has some of the highest densities of gorillas, and an eco-tourism project has begun there with help from The Gorilla Organization. Loango National Park offers the rare combination of rainforest and Atlantic beach, where hippos have been seen surfing, whales and dolphins surface offshore and the forests are home to gorillas, chimpanzees and forest elephants – my idea of heaven!

5. Angola
Western Low Land Gorillas are found only in the Cabinda enclave, the part of Angola north of the mouth of the River Congo. There is little in the way of tourism infrastructure, but if it is adventure.

6. Congo
Since the loss of the habituated Gorillas to Ebola in 2002, the nearby Odzala National Park now presents one of the best options for seeing Western Low Land Gorillas. It is currently home to two habituated family groups that can be seen by visitors. They can also be seen from hides as they visit bais.
One of the best places to track WLGs is Bai-Hokou in the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park. A WWF project has succeeded in habituating a group, and a calm contact is likely, though the dense forest and low light beneath the canopy make photography challenging.

8. Rwanda (Land of A Thousand Hills)
Rwanda is about the size of Wales, with good main roads (making it quick to get around) and a relatively well-developed infrastructure. But it is the work of Dian Fossey, as dramatised in the film Gorillas in the Mist, that really makes Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park many people’s first choice for a mountain gorilla tracking. Relaxed gorillas and relatively open habitat – montane vegetation, often with stunning views – greatly improve the chances of good gorilla watching. In Rwanda, Gorilla trekking takes place in Volcanoes National park where visitors clearly see the peaks of virunga ranges. Each gorilla permit in Rwanda costs US$750 for foreign non residents and US$475 for foreign residents (Living in East Africa – Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi), US$375 for foreigners living and working in Rwanda, US$300 for East Africans and 30.000 Rwanda Francs for Rwandese. Permits can be booked through travel agents and Rwanda Development Board (RDB) offices in Kigali. Apart from mountain gorilla tracking, Volcanoes National Park also inhabits the rear golden monkeys. Here tourists also do mountain climbing to Bishoke and Karisimbi, as well as hike to the tombs of the Late Dian Fossey, the American primatologisit who spend close to 2 decades studying and habituating Mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Know more about her works by watching her movie “Gorillas in the Mist”.

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Mountain Gorilla in Rwanda

9. Uganda (The True Pearl of Africa)
In Uganda, Gorilla trekking exercise is done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National park. Mgahinga National Park is part of the tri-national Virunga Conservation Area, and its habituated gorillas often cross into Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda is gifted with almost half of the world’s remaining mountain Gorillas found in the Virunga crescent. Uganda gorilla tracking permits cost US$600 each for Foreign none residents, US$475 for Foreign Residents and UGX250000 for Ugandans. However, In Uganda, they have low season rates where, each gorilla permit costs US$350 for Foreign Non Residents. This happens in months of April, May and November. Please contact your Travel Agent for updates. Here we have over 10 habituated gorilla families that include Nsongi, Nkuringo, Bitukura, Mishaya, Oruzogo, Kyaguriro, Rushegura, Mubare, Kahunje, Businje, not forgetting Nyakagezi of Mgahinga National Park.

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Mountain Gorillas in Uganda

10. Democratic Republic of Congo
Three of the four sub-species are found in Democratic Republic of Congo. Gorilla tourism with habituated groups began here in the mid-1970s, in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, a stronghold of eastern lowland gorillas and this park still offers one of the best gorilla-viewing experiences. Bukavu is the nearest town (with some beautiful lakeside hotels), but check the security situation if entering Democratic Republic of Congo from Rwanda. Mountain gorilla tourism in Virunga National Park is also excellent when the country is stable. Things have improved since the early 2009 arrest of rebel leader Nkunda, but the area is still unsettled. However, even during the troubles many people visited the gorillas at Djomba on day trips from Kisoro, Uganda, because permits were available in the DRC and sold out in Uganda.

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DR Congo Mountain Gorillas