Trekking with the massive mountain gorillas in the pearl of Africa is amazingly the dream come true. Only a total of not more than 1063 mountain gorillas still survive on the planet earth today and these live only in Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo. Unlike the past, the gorilla numbers in these countries have recorded significant growth thanks to destinations commitment towards conservation. All the three destinations do offer amazingly memorable mountain gorilla safaris but there are reasons why Rwanda stands out as the best.
Here is why Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park remains a better gorilla trekking destination compared to Uganda or even D.R. Congo.
Easier access to the park from the city center
Volcanoes National Park which is the leading destination for gorilla safaris is found in the Northwestern side of the country. Tourists in Kigali can easily drive from the city to track mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park in just 2-3 hours. This is not the case with Ugandan gorilla trekking destinations that require you 8-9 hours to drive from the heart of Kampala or Entebbe. Bwindi & Mgahinga National Parks are the 2 destinations where mountain gorillas survive in Uganda and the 2 are found in the Southwestern part of the country.
Elevation range –easy treks to see gorillas
Volcanoes National Park has an altitude range of 2400 meters and 4507 meters –as its highest point. The park is largely comprised of bamboo forest and given the nature of vegetation and altitude; it is easier tracking mountain gorillas in Volcanoes NP. On Ugandan side, the altitudinal range of Bwindi Impenetrable NP ranges from 1160 meters to 2607 meters. With this altitude, Bwindi is an impenetrable tropical forest park and tracking mountain gorillas is challenging due to heavy vegetation.
Wide range of accommodation
While Uganda and Rwanda all have places where tourists can stay for a night, there are many options to be booked inside or nearby the park. These include budget, midrange and luxury with available lodges including Virunga Lodge, Wilderness Bisate Lodge, Volcanoes Safari Lodge, Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge, Le Bambou Hotel, Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Faraja Hotel, Best View Hotel, Garden Place, Gorillas Volcanoes Hotel, Hotel Muhabura, Gorilla Solution Lodge, Garr Hotel, Villa Gorilla Lodge and more.
Gorilla trekking experience in Rwanda revolves around habituated gorilla family groups. The 160 sq.km Volcanoes National Park supports the largest population of habituated gorilla families in the entire Virunga Conservation Area (VCA) unlike Uganda’s one gorilla family in Mgahinga. Over 12 fully habituated gorilla groups in this park are open for tracking and each group is visited by maximum of 8 (eight) guests. The gorilla groups to visit on Rwanda safaris in Volcanoes N/Park include Karisimbi, Susa A group, Titus, Agashya/Group 13, Amahoro, Pablo, Umubano, Karisimbi or Susa B family, Sabyinyo gorilla family, Kwitonda group, Hirwa and Ugenda family group.
Other list of activities to enjoy in Rwanda, include chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe Forest home to over 75 mammal species, 310 bird species and also the only park in East Africa to enjoy a canopy walk. Dian Fossey tomb hike, Volcano hiking, golden monkey tracking, birding to sight Albertine rift endemic species in Volcanoes National Park.
Rwanda gorilla permits
While normal gorilla permits in Rwanda currently stand at US$1500 per person, visitor can enjoy the discount offer that is running till December 2023. The promotional Rwanda gorilla permits are issued at USD 200 per visitor from East African community, US$500 for foreign and African nationals.