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:
Rwanda’s Gorilla permits are 1500 USD – Uganda remains at 600 USD – and will go up to 700 USD as of July 1, 2020. You have to choose which country to choose for your Gorilla trek. Uganda is the hands-down choice for most. That because of Affordability, Availability of Permits and Safety, and Security.
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 market Rwanda as an upmarket Gorilla Trekking Destination.
Uganda is keeping 600 USD Permit Prices until June 30, 2020. 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 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 misinformation. Travel Writers get it wrong. Travel Agencies in Europe, North America, Australia, and other parts of the world use old information, incorrect facts, and inaccurate 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. We also add some information about Gorilla Trekking in less Secure Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Hopefully, the information offered here will help you make the choice that is right for you.
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.
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 Nordstrom of High-End Gorilla Tourism, which has resulted in what we call “The great Gorilla Trekker Migration” to Uganda.
When it comes to promoting Gorilla Tourism, Rwanda wins hands-down. Rwanda has Ellen DeGeneres promoting Rwanda, Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda on her TV Show. It has a contract with the Arsenal Premier Football Team that has “Visit Rwanda” on their Shirts. Add to that the “Gorillas in the Mist” movie and every Travel Writer recommending Rwanda.
Uganda has no “Gorillas in the Mist” Movie, has no Ellen DeGeneres promoting Uganda. The movies about Uganda often portray the country in a negative light. They deal with its turbulent past. Examples are “Seven Days in Entebbe,” and “the Last King of Scotland.” Neither of them promotes a positive Tourism image.
If Rwanda has become the high-end, deluxe Nordstrom’s 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
Uganda wins on Affordability
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 comes down to Affordability. A gorilla Safari for two is thousands of dollars less than the same Safari in Uganda.
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 temporary problems 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 -more than half of the remaining Gorillas.
- Gorilla Trekking in both Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the Virunga Volcanoes in Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
- 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 that is 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 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.
- 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
- Uganda is a Guerrilla-Free Zone
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.
- Uganda has no Gorilla Baby Naming Ceremony, like in Rwanda once a year.
- Uganda 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 if you make wise choices.
Where is the Best Gorilla Trekking? Comparing Gorilla Trekking – Uganda versus Rwanda
Much of what you find online about Rwanda and being a better Gorilla Trekking country, is anecdotal. 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. Countless armchair gorilla trekking experts have never set foot in Africa. Critiques who freely give their prejudiced advice with their mere opinions. Opinions that are not based on facts and reality in either Rwanda or Uganda. Some will even suggest Virunga National Park in conflict-riddled Eastern Democratic Republic Congo. There, your travel insurance is useless and made void. The US State Department and the UK Government have issued stern travel warnings. That 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 20 habituated Gorilla in two parks that can be visited. Just 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. The truth with us at present is this, 99% of our Enquiries are for Uganda. Why might you ask? The answer is contained in one word – “Affordability,” and that without a compromise in the Experience. That applies even to those requesting exclusive Luxury Gorilla Safaris.
What about Gorilla Trekking Safety and Security?
Gorilla Trekking is a Safe and Secure Experience in both Rwanda and Uganda. Both Countries maintain a similar level of Security for Trekkers. In both, armed security is added. In both countries, the parks and monitored and patrolled by the military.
Gorilla Trekking has been incident-free in both countries. Both countries maintain a similar level of security. In October of 2019, a rebel attack took place in Kinigi. An incident little noted by the International Travel Community. It also must be noted that no Tourist was harmed. Rwanda has taken firm measures to avoid a repeat.
It is only logical that Gorilla Tourism is highly protected with appropriate levels of security. Gorilla Tourism provides for the funding for Gorilla Conservation, infrastructure assistance to local communities, and better-paying jobs.
Uganda is the only country that can claim at present that its two Gorilla Parks are “Guerrilla-Free.” Rwanda had an attack by FDLR Rebels on October 4, 2019, near Volcanoes National Park, where 14 Rwandans were killed. No Tourists were harmed or threatened. The rebels invaded no lodges or hotels. Rwandan Security Forces repelled the insurgents, and five were arrested. Gorilla Trekking continued unabated without incidents.
Our Take on Gorilla Trekking in Uganda vs. 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. With us, it is about your experience – Gorillas have no passports, no patriotic loyalties – they were there long before the Colonial powers drew borders on a map.
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
The Bottom Line – As we see it: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda is home to half the world’s mountain gorilla population, while Queen Elizabeth National Park has ample opportunities to encounter elephants, lions, and baboons. Here is the Uganda Bonus: It costs a fraction of what you’d pay in Rwanda. Don’t believe it -do the Math.
Many Gorilla Trekkers are simply uninformed when they arrive for the trek. Knowing about Gorilla Trekking enhances your experience, your time with the Gentle Giants of the Forest.
We know Gorillas. We go out on Treks ourselves. We share what we know and have learned with you. Many, whether they are on safari with us, find the information most helpful.
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 in our minds. That area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been unstable for years. It 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.