Gorilla Trekking: Rwanda vs Uganda

Gorilla Trekking: Rwanda vs Uganda
By Charlotte Beauvoisin

Deciding between gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda will depend on a number of factors. In short, gorilla treks in Rwanda are generally more expensive, with the country focusing on high-end, low-impact tourism. Rwanda is a small country that has made huge strides in tourism; it’s an up-and-coming destination with big ambitions and a growing list of attractions.

Conversely, permit prices in Uganda are much cheaper and there is a wider range of budget and mid-range accommodation. However, journey times in Uganda are longer and roads into Bwindi Impenetrable Forest are bumpier. Uganda is a more established destination with a wide variety of additional wildlife, cultural and adventure tourism activities. A two-country trip is a popular option.

Is Rwanda Or Uganda Better For Gorilla Trekking?

Uganda

Rwanda

Permit price

$700 per permit ($500 temporary Covid-19 recovery price)

$1,500 per permit ($500 temporary Covid-19 recovery price)

How to buy permits

Book a package with a tour operator or buy your permit directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority. Another option (when the road border reopens) is to fly into Rwanda and drive to Uganda. It takes approximately three to five hours to drive from Kigali International Airport to the gorilla tracking destinations in Uganda.

Book a package with a tour operator or buy your permit directly from the Rwanda Development Board. No need to specify a gorilla family or accommodation.

Where to stay

Gorilla trekking takes place in two national parks; Bwindi has numerous starting points.
The location of your accommodation is therefore important. It’s recommended that you stay in accommodation near to your specific starting point so bear that in mind when you book your permit.

All gorilla trekking starts at the VNP park headquarters in Kinigi. Most accommodation is within easy driving distance (10 minutes). The furthest lodges are 1.5 hours’ drive.

Time needed

Owing to the remote locations, you’ll need a minimum two-night stay in the gorilla tracking area.

Two-night stay is recommended. One-night (and even one day) trips are possible but not recommended.

Difficulty

The terrain is often steep. Trekking through the jungle can be tricky and may require guides to hack a path with machetes.

Generally, easier terrain to climb, except on the longer tracks which can lead you into dense forest at altitude.

Other things to do in the area

Take a day hike across Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Go birdwatching or take the Waterfalls Walk in Bwindi. Meet the Batwa, traditional forest tribe. Canoe across Lake Mutanda. Climb a volcano.

Meet the reformed poachers of Kinigi and buy their good quality crafts. Visit Musanze Caves. Trek to Dian Fossey’s grave. Visit the ‘twin lakes’ of Bulera and Ruhondo.

Ease of transport access

Eight to 10-hour drive from Entebbe International Airport. Fly-in options to local airstrips (within 30 minutes’ drive of gorilla tracking areas) are available.

A two-hour drive from Kigali International Airport. Fly-in options to local airstrips, including helicopter transfers, are available.

Gorilla Trekking: Rwanda vs Uganda

Charlotte Beauvoisin

Charlotte is a travel blogger based on the edge of Kibale Forest, Uganda. She is a contributor to the Bradt Uganda Guidebook and has written for Lonely Planet, The Daily Telegraph and Fodor's. She first arrived in Uganda in 2009 as a Voluntary Service Overseas volunteer with the Uganda Conservation Foundation.

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