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.
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.
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
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.
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.