Where should I go for Gorilla Trekking – Rwanda or Uganda? – Compare
Comparing Gorilla Trekking – Uganda versus Rwanda – Pros and cons of each country
Comparing Gorilla Trekking – Uganda versus Rwanda – the Choice is yours:
Added to the other usual choices about which country you would like for your Trek – there now is the decision whether you can afford 900 USD more for permits in Rwanda.
Rwanda raised its Permit Prices to help it pay the way for Gorilla Conservation, assist the local communities surrounding the trekking areas with much-needed infrastructure and to market Rwanda as an upmarket Gorilla Trekking Destination.
Uganda is keeping 600 USD Permit Prices until at least December 31, 2021. In spite of what you might read on many sites, “there are no longer “Discounted Gorilla Permits” for April, May, November available in Uganda. That ended in November 2017.
When Comparing Gorilla Trekking – Uganda with Rwanda you will find a multitude of inaccurate information regarding Gorilla Trekking and Mountain Gorillas regarding Rwanda and Uganda.
Forums abound with it, Travel Writers get it wrong, Travel Agencies in Europe, North America, Australia and other parts of the world use old information, incorrect facts, and incorrect prices and until the recent Permit increase in Rwanda – favored Rwanda.
We live here – we work here. We give you the straight scoop about Gorilla Trekking in both Countries. A point to consider beyond price is Safety and Security. Uganda and Rwanda are the clear winners in that department, though France issued a Travel Advisory for Rwanda, Canada followed suit on April 19, 2019. We think it is off-base and have some strong opinions about it.
Hopefully, it will help you to make the choice that is right for you when it comes to your preferences, financial ability, etc.
Where is the Best Gorilla Trekking – Rwanda or in Uganda?
This is a question we often receive in an email or a phone call, and that is why we have created this Gorilla Trekking Comparison page from our Perspective as a Tour operator.
Compare Rwanda with Uganda:
Rwanda has done a terrific job promoting the country, and in particular, it’s Mountain Gorillas which is the main tourist draw that Rwanda has. It invites journalists from around the world to visit the Land of a Thousand Hills, and they paint Rwanda, its scenery and especially its Mountain Gorillas in a positive light endearing the tiny country of Rwanda to the Travel Community around the world. It has positioned itself as the sort of Nordstroms of Highend Gorilla Tourism which has resulted in what we call “The great Gorilla Trekker Migration” to Uganda.
Uganda, with more of the Gentle Primate Giants than either Rwanda or the Democratic Republic (480 out of 880) has not done as well as Rwanda when it comes to PR and promoting its Mountain Gorillas. The movies “Raid on Entebbe” – “The Last King of Scotland” about Idi Amin does not promote Uganda as a destination as does “Gorillas in the Mist” for Rwanda and now a follow up on the life of Dian Fossey.
If Rwanda has become the high-end Nordstroms gorilla tourism destination, Uganda has become the sort of T.J. Maxx of Gorilla Tourism in 2019.
Do the Math on Gorilla Trekking:
- Rwanda’s 1 hour with a Gorilla Family Permit (1,500 USD) costs you 25 USD per minute
- Uganda’s 1 hour with a Gorilla Family Permit (600 USD) costs you 10 USD per minute
- Uganda’s 4 hours with a Gorilla Family Habituation Permit (1,500 USD) costs you 6.25 USD per minute
At the end of the Day, it is about the money – Though in Uganda many of our Clients choose the Gorilla Habituation Experience over 1 – hour with a Gorilla Family – To them, 1,500 USD gets you Value – 4 hours with a Gorilla Family and more time with the Gentle Giants is what most want.
National Geographic UK in its “Cool Places List” for 2019 asks this Question? “Why Uganda Again?” – National Geographic had picked Uganda as one of the Best Destinations in 2013. The Answer – Gorilla Permit Price. In April 2019.
CNN Travel Picked Bwindi Impenetrable Forest as the Number 1 – most Beautiful Place in the World.
You are comparing Gorilla Trekking – Uganda versus Rwanda – Which is the Right Choice for you?
The Advantages of Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda:
- Short Driving Distance from Kigali 2 1/2 Hours
- Good Roads
- Golden Monkey Trekking
- Volcano Climbing
- Luxury Lodging Choices
- Combine Akagera Wildlife Park and Nyungwe Forest with its Primates and Trails.
- Relax and Chill Out on Lake Kivu
- Cultural Add-Ons are readily available.
- Better Road Conditions and Cleaner.
- The Traffic Lights work.
- Welcoming Coffee & Cultural Dance at Orientation.
- Rwanda excels at Promoting itself especially hosting International Travel Writers.
- Rwanda has become a leading African Convention Destination, and Convention Attendees can track Gorillas.
The Cons of Rwanda:
- Cost of Permits in Rwanda 1500 USD compared to Uganda at 600 USD
- Higher Lodging Cost around Volcanoes National Park and fewer Lodging Choices
- Lodging in town – not in the Wilderness unless you choose an exclusive Lodge
- Limited Add-Ons – Rwanda is not like Uganda – a total African Wildlife Safari Destination.
- Has limited Chimpanzee Tracking with no success rate.
- Has less daily Permits than Uganda – 10 Gorilla Groups – 80 Permits
- No Gorilla Habituation Experience of 4 hours with gorillas like in Uganda.
- Elevation causes some a temporary problem with some.
- 10% of permit revenue given to the local community – Uganda offers 20%
- Rwandans have to pay the same price for Gorilla Trekking as Tourists.
- The Pros of Uganda:
- Most Mountain Gorillas in Africa -480 out of 880.
- Gorilla Trekking in both Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and in the Virunga Volcanoes in Mgahinga Gorilla Park that is just like trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park 3 hours drive from Kigali
- More Habituated Mountain Gorillas than any other country with 19 gorilla groups habituated.
- Almost twice the Availability of Gorilla Permits than Rwanda
- Golden Monkey trekking and Habituation Experience in Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
- Fly into Rwanda – Trek Gorillas in Uganda – 3 to 4-hour drive and save 900 USD plus – average person saves 1,200 USD on permit and lodging.
- Spend 4 hours with a gorilla group being habituated on an all-day trek. 1500 USD
- Lower priced permits – 600 USD in Uganda compared to 1500 USD in Rwanda
- More economical priced Lodging including upmarket. Lodging is not in towns but in or near Forest or Park.
- Best Chimpanzee Tracking and all day habituation in all of Africa.
- Mountain and Volcano Climbing including both the Virunga Volcanoes and the Rwenzori Mountains Mountains
- White Water Rafting, Kayaking,
- Relax and Chill out on Lake Bunyonyi, Lake Mutanda, or the Ssese Islands on Lake Victoria
- A variety of Scenery such as is not found in Rwanda.
- English is more often used in Uganda than in Rwanda.
- More than a Gorilla Safari Destination – Big 5 – plus Gorillas and Chimpanzees – 10 National Parks.
- Bwindi Impenetrable Forest UNESCO World Heritage Site – May 2017-picked by CNN as one of the Best Parks in Africa
- Ugandans – East Africans including Rwandans and Expats, even Rwandans lower permit price
- in Uganda can do Gorilla Trekking with a lower permit price. That changed in Rwanda in 2017.
- Uganda – makes the UK Lonely Planet Travellers Cool List for 2019
The Cons of Uganda:
- Long Drive times, unless one flies into Kigali and drives to Bwindi – or flies from Entebbe to Bwindi Forest or breaks drive-times by staying a night in another park such as Lake Mburo National Park.
- Road Conditions in places need improvement.
- In-Country Flights tend to be on the expensive side, and however many take advantage of the short 1 1/2 hour flight to Bwindi.
- Not as clean as Rwanda – there is no Umuganda Day in Uganda.
- Traffic lights in the main towns often do not work.
- 4 Gorilla Starting Points in Bwindi Impenetrable – some find that confusing. We take the confusion out of it.
- Has no Gorilla Baby Naming Ceremony like in Rwanda once a year.
- Does not serve coffee at the orientation for the trek, plus there is no cultural dance offered for visitors.
- Park Offices at Gorilla Trek Starting points are not as elaborate as the one in Rwanda.
Gorilla Trekking Choices – often determined by Price and Affordability. The Good News for those choosing to Trek Gorillas in Uganda is that there will be no change in the Price of Gorilla Permits for 2020 and 2021.
Where is the Best Gorilla Trekking? Comparing Gorilla Trekking – Uganda versus Rwanda
Much of what you find online about Rwanda is better than Uganda or Uganda is better than Rwanda are myths, many of them spun in the minds of travelers that have never trekked in one country or the other, or have trekked Gorillas in only one of the two countries.
The choice is yours. There are countless armchair gorilla trekking experts that have never set foot in Africa who will freely give their prejudiced opinions which are merely opinions not based on facts and reality in either Rwanda or Uganda, some will even suggest Virunga National Park in conflict-riddled Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo where your travel insurance is useless and made void where the US State Department the UK Government have issued stern travel warnings for your safety in spite of Rwandan and Ugandan tour operators taking clients there.
You hear things such as Rwanda is easier for Gorilla Trekking than Uganda. Uganda has 15 habituated Gorilla that can be visited – like in Rwanda some treks are more comfortable than others. Some treks in Uganda can be as short as 2 to 3 hours…another internet myth.
If you are looking at price – Uganda wins hands down on permit prices and lodging accommodation prices. Deal with a tour operator such as ourselves – we will tell you the Good – Bad and the reality. With us it is not Rwanda versus Uganda – it comes down to making the dream of a lifetime become a reality on a Gorilla Trek in Uganda or Rwanda.
No Mountain Gorilla can be found in any zoo, they do not survive captivity, they are meant to be wild and free in the Virunga Volcanoes – Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla Park in Uganda plus Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – a genuinely ancient forest where over 400 gorillas are found and the only park where you can spend the full day on a Gorilla Habituation Trek which includes four hours with a gorilla family.
With us it is about the experience – Gorillas have no passports, no patriotic loyalties – they were there long before the Colonial powers drew lines on a map.
Gorillas ignore Nationality and Boundaries – they can and in some cases travel from one country to another, they go through no customs or immigration check – this land – diminished in size as it now is was theirs and for the most part the original people of the forest – the Batwa Pygmies – the unique people of the woods who left a low ecological footprint but were evicted in the 1990s to clear the park for tourists.
It is not about Rwanda or Uganda or even the Democratic Republic of Congo – it is the endangered Mountain Gorillas that are increasing in numbers due to conservation funded through Tourism
Why did we not include Gorilla Trekking in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo?
Virunga National Park, Africa most Bio-Diverse Park is one of the best-managed Parks in Africa, its Rangers some of the Best in the World. It is the oldest National Park in Africa, and Gorillas can be tracked there, the permit prices are 400 USD – Why then do we not go there? The well-being of our Clients is foremost on our mind. That area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been unstable for years and is considered a High-Risk Area especially after two recent incidents in April and May of 2018.
The US and UK do not recommend traveling there with current advisories. Your Travel Insurance becomes void in most cases. You have to choose between your safety and saving 200 USD on permits in the Congo should not be your sole motivation.
Travel Advisory for Gorilla Trekking: Virunga National Park has reopened for Tourism in February 2019. Park Management feels that their security has improved since 2 British Nationals were kidnapped last year. Check Present Security Advisories, your Travel Insurance Policy and use only a Virunga National Park approved Tour Operator.