How do you decide where to go mountain gorilla trekking?
Mountain gorilla trekking is a professionally organised and well-developed ecotourism experience. It is the number one tourist attraction in both Uganda and Rwanda. Wherever you stay, there is a good range of accommodation options available to you. Gorilla tracking in the DRC is now back on the bucket list, but offers fewer tracking and accommodation options. If you’re interested in mountain gorilla tracking in the Congo, do drop me an email. A new page is planned!
Ranger guides are professionally trained, will look after you well and are full of useful information. They know the gorilla populations intimately. Ranger guides speak good English. In Rwanda, many guides also speak French (in addition to Kinyarwanda of course!)
The advantages of trekking the gorillas in Uganda
I simply love the drive to see the gorillas in Uganda, even from Kampala, and even though it takes a whole day. Whether you are trekking the gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park (Buhoma, Nkuringo, Ruhija or Rushaga) or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the last hour or two’s scenery en route is divine.
Gorilla trekking permits are cheaper in Uganda (although they have removed the off-peak season discounts). In my view, Uganda also has lots more to see and do before or after your gorilla trekking adventure. Uganda and Rwanda are right next door to each other however, so you could trek the gorillas in Rwanda and then drive to Uganda for the rest of your East African holiday, or vice versa.
Since first writing this guide, Rwanda has doubled the cost of its gorilla tracking permits to $1500 making the country unaffordable to most people. Interestingly, the popularity of gorilla tracking in the DRC is on the increase and is dirt cheap by comparison. Check out my gorilla permit cost page.
The advantages of trekking the gorillas in Rwanda
Rwanda’s boast is that you can fly in and do the gorilla trek in one (rather hectic) day and fly back home the same night. I wouldn’t recommend that though.
The short drive from Kigali International Airport to the start of the gorilla trekking in Rwanda is only two hours but the drive is not as scenic (breath-taking!) as Uganda. However, the roads are better, so gorilla trekking in Rwanda includes a more comfortable drive. Although the gorilla trekking permits cost more in Rwanda, you may save money by doing a shorter trip. By comparison, in Uganda you have to stay a minimum of two nights, thus pushing the overall price up.
Which is the best: trekking the gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda?
The Muzungu highly recommends gorilla trekking in both Uganda and Rwanda. Both experiences are fantastic. I loved hacking through the rainforest in Bwindi and I loved the bamboo forest of Rwanda. I know people who have tracked the mountain gorillas dozens of times. They continue to go back because every experience is so different. Likewise with tourists and travellers, some decide that if they are travelling all the way to East Africa, then why not trek both Uganda’s mountain gorillas and Rwanda’s gorillas too?
For gorilla trekking stories and Uganda and Rwanda travel advice, click on the hyperlinks in the Ultimate Guide to Mountain Gorilla Trekking. Still got a question? Contact the Muzungu.