Uganda gorilla safaris vs Rwanda gorilla tracking tours, many of our clients have been always engaging us in the debate when it comes to choosing where to for gorilla tracking safari between Uganda and Rwanda as we compare both countries which offer gorilla safaris experience in Africa.
In Uganda, gorilla trekking safaris are done in both Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and in Mgahinga gorilla national park while in Rwanda gorilla tracking tours are done in Volcanoes national park.
The fact about all this comparison is that the 2018 mountain gorilla census shows us that gorilla has increased in number from 880 to now 100,4 and more than of these remaining endangered mountain gorillas are found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and other 40% of gorillas are found in the Virunga mountain ranges which are shared between three countries for example on Rwanda side its Volcanoes national park, on DR-Congo side its Virunga National Park and on Uganda side it’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and I must say that gorilla tracking experience is the same in all three countries above.
Gorilla trekking safaris in Africa and in the whole world can only be done in Uganda, Rwanda, and in DR-Congo, but currently, gorilla safaris are mainly done in Uganda and Rwanda because both Uganda and Rwanda are the safest while in Congo most travel advisories will tell you not to go to Congo for gorilla trekking because of insecurity in the eastern DR-Congo.
Kisoro tours Uganda is going to take you through this discussion of compering Uganda gorilla safaris vs Rwanda gorilla tracking tours we are well equipped with all the information and knowledge of what to expect in each gorilla safari destination so that you are in a better position when choosing which country to go to for your gorilla trekking experience.
How to access Uganda gorillas in Bwindi Forest or Rwanda Volcanoes National Park
Uganda’s Bwindi forest can be accessed from Entebbe International Airport and driving from Entebbe airport to Bwindi forest takes you about 9 to 10 hours’ drive, but you can also fly direct from Entebbe to Bwindi forest, there is a domestic airline called Aero link which daily scheduled flights to Kisoro airport or Kihihi airstrip, if you choose to fly to Bwindi forest, the flight time is just one hour and 30 minutes and then from the airstrip, our guide/driver will transfer you to the lodge which will take about 45 minutes’ drive depending on which lodge you are using.
For the case of Rwanda, as you all know Rwanda is a very small country so it only takes about 2 and half hours drive from Kigali international airport to reach Volcanoes national park which makes it the short distance for gorilla trekking safari, this means that it’s possible for 1 day or 2 days gorilla tracking tour in Rwanda’ Volcanoes national park, unlike Uganda’s Bwindi forest where it takes you almost a full day on the road.
However, you can fly to Kigali international airport in Rwanda and trek gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park in Uganda because it’s actually closer if you fly into Kigali and trek gorillas in Uganda than flying to Entebbe airport, from Kigali airport to Bwindi forest in Uganda take only 3 to 4 hours’ drive that’s why Kisoro tours Uganda always advises it, client, to fly into Kigali Rwanda and cross over to Uganda for affordable gorilla safaris because Rwanda government increased and doubled its gorilla permit price as we are going to see below.
Gorilla permit price in Uganda vs Rwanda gorilla permits price
Now this is the most interesting part of this article, in May 2017 Rwanda government doubled its gorilla trekking permit price from $750 to $1,500 per person for any to be allowed to view Rwanda mountain gorillas for only one hour in Volcanoes national park while in Uganda gorilla permit costs only $600 per person but starting from 1st July 2020 gorilla tracking permit in Uganda will also increase from $600 to $700 per person in ether Bwindi impenetrable forest national park or in Mgahinga gorilla national park.
This means that Rwanda gorilla trekking is twice more expensive if compared to Uganda gorilla trekking, so if you trek gorillas in Uganda instead of Rwanda you will be saving $900 on each gorilla permit which can be used to extend your Uganda safari to other park-like Kibale forest national park for chimpanzee trekking and game viewing in other Uganda national parks.
Habituated Gorilla Families in Uganda vs Rwanda gorilla families
Currently, Uganda has a total of 20 habituated gorillas groups/families located in different sectors in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and in Mgahinga gorilla national park while Rwanda has total of 10 habituated gorillas groups located in Volcanoes national park.
This means that Uganda has 160 gorilla permits available daily while Rwanda has 80 permits available daily, in other words, this means that it is easier to get gorilla permits in Uganda, also you should take note that gorilla permits in both Uganda and Rwanda are sold on the first come first serve basis so Kisoro tours Uganda always advises it, clients to book their gorilla permit in about 3 to 6 month in advance to avoid missing out on the date you want.
Other activities to do after or before gorilla trekking safari in Uganda and Rwanda
In terms of other tourists attraction in both countries, I would say still Uganda has a lot more to offer than Rwanda, Uganda has other 10 national parks while Rwanda had a total number of 3 national parks, it is very easier combine your Uganda gorilla safaris in Bwindi forest with other wildlife viewing in Queen Elizabeth national park, Murchison falls national park, Kidepo valley national park, etc.
And in Rwanda, you can combine your gorilla trekking tours in Volcanoes national with game viewing in Akagera national park and chimpanzee trek in Nyungwe forest national park
Another exciting activity which can only be found in Uganda in the whole world is the mountain gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi forest national park, gorilla habituation allows to spend more time with a gorilla and get a chance to know more mountain gorillas.
Uganda is still the only country where you can go for both chimpanzee and Golden monkey habituation experience, chimpanzee habituation is done in Kibale forest national park which is home to over 6000 chimps while golden monkey habituation is done in Mgahinga gorilla national park. Now when you start comparing Uganda and Rwanda you will definitely see that Uganda has lot more to offer to tourists and other visitors than just traditional gorilla trekking.
The choice is yours it does not matter where to do it from either Uganda or Rwanda, gorilla trekking experience is an excellent and exciting lifetime experience, part of the gorilla permit money you pay goes to conservation of this endangered mountain gorillas and close relative to man.
Other facts when comparing Uganda gorilla safaris vs Rwanda gorilla tracking tours
In both Uganda and Rwanda people are so welcoming and hospitable but it’s on record that Ugandans are the friendliest people in Africa is not in the whole world, as you drive through different villages and town locals will greet you with wide smiles, kids waving at you all the time saying muzungu which means tourists or white person and happy to pose for photos with you but this is not the case when you are in Rwanda because Rwandans are not friendly like Uganda people so you don’t expect kids to come and start posing with you for photos or waving at you the same way.