The Gorilla Trekking Experience: A comparison between Rwanda and Uganda
Gorilla trekking is a breath-taking experience, no matter if it’s your first time doing this activity or your tenth. One can never get used to appreciating how friendly and lively these primates are. Observing their way of life such as feeding, relationship with one another, sharing, communication, family and social interaction are some of the things every Gorilla trekker looks forward to.
It is important to note that both Rwanda and Uganda both have gorillas. Therefore, in either country, you have the opportunity to do this exciting activity. In addition, both Rwanda and Uganda hold with high regard for the rules and regulations of Gorilla trekking that strictly allow for a maximum of only 8 people per trek. The regulations also require that to take part in a trekking activity you must be 15 years and older. The elderly have no limit and are encouraged to join the fun if they can walk the route. Should they not be in a position to or in full strength to do this, porters that stay along the trek route can be hired to carry them so that they can also get to experience this.
Lastly, with both experiences, local communities are supported from the proceeds earned for example through giving back to schools, community training and sensitization as well as road construction. Both countries take part in the conservation of gorillas. The primates are believed to be a transboundary resource, which means, they can cross between countries without visas or hindrances. There will also be vast spread of growing vegetation as well as accommodation for you should you prefer to stay close to the trekking areas. For both places, you can be taken by charter flight through the Kagera aviation for Rwanda and the L Link chatter flight for Uganda.
In as much as there are some similarities, these differences will guide you to choose which place you would like to do gorilla trekking. In terms of proximity, for example, the trekking experience in Rwanda is at Volcanoes National Park which is located 115km from the Kigali International Airport. For Uganda on the other hand, Entebbe International Airport I has located almost 500km from this National Park and would cost a trekker at least 8 hours of their time to reach their activity destination. In addition, there are several luxury lodges for accommodation in Rwanda such as the Signita Luxury Lodges while in Uganda, there is only one luxury lodge known as the Mt. Mgahinga Lodge.
In Rwanda, the trek route is covered in bamboo vegetation which is eaten by the gorillas but also clear, making it easy for trekkers to take photos. For the case of Uganda, the vegetation in Mgahinga is thick and dense, likely to hinder photography.
If you are attending a one day conference in Rwanda, you stand a better chance to steal an hour and go gorilla trekking as it is nearer than a person coming from Kampala or Entebbe in Uganda.
On the other hand, for the case of Rwanda, a trekking permit that you get from Irembo will cost you 1500 USD, which can get you two permits with 100 dollars to spare in Uganda. In Uganda, you can get a permit from travel agents or the Uganda Wildlife Association.
In Rwanda, all the treks start at Kinigi point, while in Uganda, you get the opportunity to start your trek at different points like Bukoma, Rushisha, Rushaga, Nkuringo and Mgahinga points. You will also not be able to reschedule or pass up your permit in Rwanda should you miss your scheduled trek. In Uganda, this is more flexible.
Uganda has up to 20 gorilla families while Rwanda only has 12. This gives ease for Uganda to sell more trekking permits. Uganda also offers you a chance to do gorilla habituation for 4 people in a day up to 4 hours at 1500 USD which is not offered in Rwanda, but instead for only the luxury clients a behind the scenes tour where they pay 30,000 USD to trek three gorilla families on 3 different days.
Overall, the Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda has been marketed more through people like Diam Fossey who has given her life to the conservation and preservation of these animals. The Karusoke research center and the Ellen DeGeneres foundation have also played a big role in letting people know about the trekking possibility in Rwanda. So, which one will you choose? Take your pick and contact us here and we will be ready to trek with you