Compare Gorilla Trekking Tours in Uganda & Rwanda – Costs, experiences, etc

Compare Gorilla Trekking Tours in Uganda or Rwanda, Bwindi, Volcanoes NP. Is it better to Track Gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda; which is cheaper for gorilla trek tours?

Uganda gorilla tracking tour juvenile bwindi safari

A juvenile mountain gorilla in Bikingi gorilla family Bwindi, Uganda

We try to compare gorilla trekking tours’ experiences in costs in Uganda or Rwanda, Bwindi, Volcanoes NP.
There are about 884 mountain gorillas remaining on earth. About 55% of the mountain gorillas live in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park of Uganda while the rest are in Virunga Mountains that straddle Rwanda (Volcanoes NP), Uganda (Mgahinga Gorilla National Park) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Virunga National Park).

Most of the 884 gorillas live a wild existence, far from human reach but a few gorilla families range in places closer to farmland in Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. However, a handful of groups have been habituated and can be tracked and observed by small numbers of visitors under the watchful eyes of park scouts.

It is these habituated gorilla families that you can visit as a tourist. You will need a gorilla tracking permit to visit the mountain gorillas in an activity called gorilla tracking or gorilla trekking.  Rwanda’s Gorilla permits are 1500 USD – Uganda remains at 600 USD – and Congo at USD450 now, you have to make a choice about which country to choose for your trek and it often is based on available Financial Resources.

Rwanda raised its Permit Prices in order 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 not raising prices and permits remain at 600 USD while Congo is also keeping the permit price at USD450.

We run private and small group tours to all the four national parks where the gorillas are found which makes you to be the best judge in this.

There is a multitude of inaccurate information regarding Gorilla Trekking and Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo.  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, wrong facts, and wrong prices and until the recent Permit increase in Rwanda – favored Rwanda.

As locally based and run tour operators, we believe we ought to offer all the information we can about this subject so that you make the right choices for your gorilla tracking experiences.  Hopefully, it will help you to make the choice that is right for you.

Are Mountain Gorillas the same in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo?

For starters, the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda, and Congo are one and the same species. They are not any different.  They are the same mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and Virunga National Park.

Where is the Best Gorilla Trekking – Rwanda, Congo or in Uganda?

Each passing day, our staff and agents in office will handle this question by email, online chats or phone calls. This is why we have created this article/ page so that we outline a few of the differences in gorilla tracking in Rwanda, Uganda, and Congo.

Undoubtedly, Rwanda has invested a lot resources in marketing as the destination of choice for gorilla tracking. Besides, the famous mountain gorilla researcher, Dian Fossey was based in Rwanda for a lot of her research time. Rwanda also invites several journalists from all over the world to document its gorilla trekking experiences; its scenery and especially its Mountain Gorillas in a positive light endearing the tiny country of Rwanda to the Travel Community around the world

On the other hand, Uganda, with more of the Gentle Primate Giants than either Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of combined (480  total 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 don’t promote Uganda as a destination as does “Gorillas in the Mist” for Rwanda.

Is Uganda or  Rwanda better for Gorilla Trekking Tours

The Advantages of Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda:

  • Short Driving Distance (2 hours from Kigali Airport_
  • Good surfaced Roads all the way to Volcanoes National Park from Kigali
  • Better Road Conditions and Cleaner.

The Disadvantages of Rwanda gorilla tracking :

  • Cost of Permits in Rwanda 1500 USD compared to Uganda at 600USD
  • Fewer choices for other wildlife experiences
  • Lodging in town – not in the Wilderness unless you choose an exclusive Lodge
  • Has limited Chimpanzee Tracking
  • Has less daily Permits than Uganda – 10 Gorilla Groups – 80 Permits
  • No Gorilla Habituation Experiences of 4 hours with gorillas like in Uganda.
  • Elevation causes some a temporary problem with some.
  • 10% of permit revenue given to local community – Uganda gives 20%
  • Rwandans have to pay the same price for Gorilla Trekking as Visitors.

The Advantages of tracking gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable NP or Mgahinga Gorilla NP:

  • Most Mountain Gorillas in Africa -480 out of 884 in two National Parks of Bwindi and Mgahinga.
  • 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- 15 gorilla groups habituated.
  •  Availability of Gorilla Permits all the year, with only a few days over-booked.
  • Golden Monkey trekking and Habituation Experience in Mgahinga Gorilla Park for $10 less than the $10 for Rwanda Volcanoes NP
  • Fly into Rwanda – Trek Gorillas in Uganda – 3 1/2-hour drive and save 900 USD plus
  • 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
  • Plenty of higher quality lower priced Lodging including upmarket not in towns but in the Forest or overlooking the Forest.
  • The ability to offer a full primates and wildlife tour experience
  • Best Chimpanzee Tracking and all day habituation in all of Africa.
  • Mountain and Volcano Climbing including both the Virunga Volcanoes and the Rwenzori MountainsMountains
  • More adventure, hiking and White Water Rafting, Kayaking,
  • Relax and Chill out on Lake Bunyonyi, Lake Mutanda, 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 and Expats living in Uganda can do Gorilla Trekking with a lower permit price.  That changed in Rwanda in 2017.

The Cons of Uganda Gorilla trekking:

  • 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 are in need of improvement.
  • In-Country Flights tend to be on the expensive side, however many take advantage of the short 1 1/2 hour flight to Bwindi.
  • Not as clean as Rwanda
  • 4 Gorilla Starting Points in Bwindi Impenetrable – some find that confusing.  We take the confusion out of it.
  • Does not serve coffee at the orientation for the trek, not is a cultural dance offered for visitors.
  • Park Offices at Gorilla Trek Starting points are not as elaborate as the one in Rwanda.

Other things in addition to the actual gorilla tracking

Lastly, if you are not travelling just to see the mountain gorilla, and you want to include other activities in your visit, Rwanda may not be the best choice. Many tourists have continually had to cross to Uganda after their Rwanda gorilla trek to tour other reserves like Queen Elizabeth National Parks so endowed with abundant wildlife one cannot see in Rwanda. This is why probably folks continue enduring the long drives to Bwindi yet there is an easy way out.

At the end of the day – the ultimate jury are those who are looking as to which country to visit in order to track Gorillas – it is not Rwanda, not Uganda, not the Democratic Republic of Congo but where their pockets and hearts choose. If you precisely want the mountain gorillas and nothing else, go for a one-day gorilla trek but if you are a one who wants it and all of it, go for the long drive – you won’t regret…

Have you been on a gorilla trek in Rwanda or Uganda? What was your experience? What have you had about tracking gorillas in Rwanda Vs Uganda? Let me hear your views.
A mountain gorilla family in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

How different is the gorilla tracking experience between Uganda and Rwanda (Comparisons)