Gorilla Trekking Uganda VS Rwanda VS Congo
There is a bit of a debate about the three countries and which one is better for Gorilla trekking – much of it is actually between trekking in Uganda or Rwanda. What isn’t debatable however is the clear fact that mountain Gorillas are only found in the Virunga mountains – shared between Uganda, Rwanda and Congo and comprised of Mgahinga National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park as well as Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park which is famously known to possess more than half of the entire world’s mountain Gorilla population. The decision of where to go trekking with these peaceful giants comes down to a number of factors including time, budget and supporting logistics. Rwanda Gorilla trekking is considered to be easier because the gorillas are usually seen after just a few hours of trekking but the altitude is higher so you still need to be relatively fit and considering that Volcanoes is a mountainous park, it is ascending from the start. The terrain however is more open which allows for better gorilla watching when you find them and better chances of taking decent photos.
Mgahinga National Park on the Ugandan side of the mountain has only one habituated gorilla family that visitors can see – the Nyakagezi group and thus not many people prefer it. Uganda Gorilla trekking primarily takes place at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with 17 habituated gorilla families to-date. Being a dense tropical rainforest, it can rain at any time in Bwindi even in the dry months and there are no trails so the trek can be more challenging and when the gorillas are feeding in the bushy areas, it might be a bit difficult to take clear shots and your gorilla watching experience might be impacted. Gorilla trekking in Congo takes place at Virunga National Park which is Africa’s oldest national park with unmatched biodiversity but safety is a challenge because of the recent tourist kidnappings and the constant instabilities in Eastern Congo which scares away many tourists. Congo Gorilla trekking is usually combined with a visit to Mt. Nyiragongo – an active Volcano with the world’s largest lava lake. Trekking in Congo and visiting Nyiragongo is a massive, overwhelming experience but safety is still a big concern and the activities are usually on and off which makes planning difficult as well.
Logistically, Rwanda is a clean and safe country with high end facilities and good road network so it mainly targets high end tourists because a Gorilla permit costs $1,500 compared to $600 in Uganda (until 1st July 2020 and then it raises to $700) and $400 for Congo. When it comes down to price, Uganda is an absolute winner because the country is safe with diverse, moderately priced facilities and good road network but the distances between points are longer so you spend more time in the vehicle. Because of the instabilities in Congo, the challenges are many and it is very advisable to stay in Gisenyi on the Rwandan side of the border and only crossover to take part in the activities. Mountain gorilla trekking is an incredible, life changing experience so it will really not matter much where you do it; you will still be contributing to their survival and you will live with the experience your entire life! Let us help you plan.
Best Time of year; when to go Gorilla trekking?
This is probably the first thing that comes to mind when planning. Thanks to its pleasant temperatures, Uganda is a year-round destination – same for Rwanda and Congo. But, of course, there are peak and low seasons that can make the world of a difference when taking crowds and budget into consideration. Generally speaking, December/January through to mid-March, and from June through to mid-September are peak tourist seasons thanks to the drier climate. However, if you’re looking to go on a budget safari, then consider traveling during the wetter time of year. Most rain falls in October-November and April-May, and you might see quite a drop in the cost of going on a safari, but this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to enjoy it. Low season means fewer crowds and more wildlife viewing.
At Gorilla Holidays Uganda, it is our ultimate pleasure to welcome you to Africa and assist you to achieve your dream Gorilla safari in Uganda, Rwanda Gorilla trekking or Gorilla tours in Congo. A visit to the gentle giants in each of these places is an adventure of a lifetime and goes a long way in ensuring their survival. The money you pay for the Gorilla permit goes into their conservation and having the locals as porters and selling their produce to the Safari lodges and tourists uplifts their livelihoods and motivates them to protect the gorillas instead of poaching them. We offer 3 Day Gorilla Safaris to Uganda, Rwanda and Congo as well as combined Gorilla tours including game parks, walking safaris, cultural tours and adventure trips.