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Gorilla trekking in Rwanda vs Uganda

Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda both offer incredible opportunities to observe endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, but there are some differences between the two experiences. Here's a comparison of gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda:

  • Uganda: In Uganda, gorilla trekking takes place in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, both located in the southwestern part of the country.
  • Rwanda: In Rwanda, gorilla trekking occurs in Volcanoes National Park in the northwest of the country.

  • Uganda: Uganda generally has lower permit fees for gorilla trekking compared to Rwanda. 
  • Rwanda: Rwanda's gorilla trekking permits tend to be more expensive than those in Uganda. The higher cost is often attributed to Rwanda's efforts in gorilla conservation and tourism development.

Terrain and Hiking:
  • Uganda: Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park often involves trekking through dense, hilly jungle terrain. The hikes can be quite strenuous, and the length of the trek can vary - typically from 3-8+ hours.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Erin Correia)
  • Rwanda: Trekking in Volcanoes National Park usually involves shorter hikes and less strenuous terrain, compared to Bwindi. However, the actual experience in either destination can vary depending on the gorilla group's location and movements.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda (Erin Correia)

Viewing of Gorillas:
  • Uganda: While the experience can vary, gorilla families in Uganda are often found in dense vegetation, forcing you to take photos through and around foliage.
  • Rwanda: Again, the experience can vary. Gorilla families can often be seen in clearings in the bamboo forest, but can occasionally also be found on farmland, or in thick areas of the forest.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda (Erin Correia)

Group Size:
  • Both Uganda and Rwanda limit the number of permits available each day to minimize the impact on gorillas. In both countries, you'll typically be trekking in small groups of around 8 guests. (My group from Rwanda, below - 8 guests + our porters, rangers and guide)
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda - our awesome group of trekkers!
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda - our awesome group of trekkers! (Erin Correia)

Gorilla Habituation Experience:
  • Uganda offers a unique Gorilla Habituation Experience in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi, where visitors can spend more time with gorillas and researchers as they get used to human presence. This experience is not available in Rwanda.

In summary, both Uganda and Rwanda offer incredible gorilla trekking experiences, and the choice between them depends on your preferences, budget, and other factors. Uganda may appeal to those looking for a more budget-friendly option and a chance to experience the Gorilla Habituation Experience, while Rwanda may be preferred for its accessibility and shorter hikes. Regardless of your choice, gorilla trekking in either country is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and a remarkable opportunity to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

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