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Gorilla Trekking: Uganda OR Rwanda, Which Is Better?

Gorilla trekking in Uganda versus Rwanda, which is better? Both are great options, but which is best depends on your needs. In this post, we’ll have a look at some of the differences between gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda. Below are some of the main points of comparison to help you decide where to go on a gorilla trek.


Comparison 1: Number of Permits

As one of the ultimate wildlife experiences in Africa, gorilla trekking is becoming more and more popular. Luckily strict regulations are in place to protect these gentle giants, and the number of permits available per day is finite. Only eight visitors can spend one hour with a habituated gorilla group per day. Rwanda has 12 groups available for tracking in Volcanoes National Park, and Uganda has 13 groups in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and just one group in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Volcanoes Tours

Mgahinga Gorilla NP in the Virunga Mountains is an amazing place for gorilla trekking, possibly my favorite. But with just one gorilla group and very little accommodation in the area, it isn’t a popular option. For the purposes of this blog, I’ve left this off-the-beaten-track gorilla park out of the equation and the comparisons below are between the two most popular and accessible gorilla trekking destinations: Bwindi in Uganda and Volcanoes NP in Rwanda.

Bwindi Tours

Comparison 2: Habitat & Landscape

The habitat and landscape of the main gorilla trekking parks in Uganda and Rwanda are very different. Rwanda’s Volcanoes NP is part of a mostly dormant volcanic mountain range known as the Virungas. Here, the gorillas stay almost exclusively in the bamboo forest zone, a beautiful setting in which to see these great apes. The vegetation tends to be quite open, which is ideal for easy viewing. Uganda’s most popular gorilla trekking destination, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, is an extensive tract of tropical rainforest. It’s a stunning setting as well, but as the name suggests, the denser vegetation can sometimes make clear views of the gorillas a bit more challenging.


Comparison 3: Cost

Another important point to consider when comparing gorilla trekking in Uganda versus Rwanda is the cost. The price of a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda is US$700 and in Rwanda it’s US$1,500 per person. A big difference. Of course, you can argue that the difference isn’t considerable when absorbed into a 10-day holiday package. This fee doesn’t include any travel arrangements, such as transport, your guide, accommodation, etc. It only covers the activity, the park ranger who will be your guide for gorilla trekking, and the trackers who go ahead to find the gorillas. Tips for the guide, trackers and optional porter are extra.


Comparison 4: Trek Conditions

In general, the trek conditions tend to be a bit easier in Rwanda than in Uganda. This is not absolute though. Conditions change daily depending on the location of the gorillas. Each gorilla group has its territory and some of them are usually easier to reach than others. Conditions tend to deteriorate after heavy rain when the forest paths become very slippery. This is especially true in Bwindi, which sees very high rainfall throughout the year. The tracks in Rwanda are usually quite defined, while the tracks in Uganda tend to be very steep and overgrown. Having said that, the high altitude in Rwanda can be a challenge for some people.


Comparison 5: Accommodation Options

There are good accommodation options for gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda. Rwanda has perhaps more choice in top-end luxury lodges, while Uganda has a few more mid-range options. Several lodges in Uganda border the park and have a true forest feel, while in Rwanda many lodges have mountain and/or lake views, but most are a bit further away from the forest boundary.


Comparison 6: Getting There

Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is considerably more accessible than Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. The drive from Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali, to Volcanoes NP takes up to 3 hours on a good road. The drive from Entebbe, Uganda’s gateway for most visitors, to Bwindi takes between eight and 10 hours. While there is only one starting point for gorilla treks in Rwanda, there are four different trailheads in Bwindi. Some of them require a good 4×4 to get to. There are, however, scheduled flights to Bwindi. Alternatively, a stay in Bwindi can be incorporated into a larger road tour in Uganda, visiting other parks and reserves. For a quick gorilla trekking tour or an add-on to a safari in Kenya or Tanzania, Rwanda is most convenient.


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Customer Reviews

Ngoni Safaris Uganda

Customer Reviews

Michael T 06/June/2021

Above & Beyond
Review of: 3-Day Gorillas trekking and Batwa Experience
Sedrick went above and beyond to accomodate our request for an itinerary alteration due to our compressed time in Uganda. He also compeltely took care of scheduling our covid 19 testing and drove us to the site on arrival.

Our driver/guide Ben was also outstanding!

**We highly recommend using a porter during gorilla trekking as their are some complex parts to the trail/terrain. This also benefits the local people by providing them work.**

David 24/June/2021

Seeing Lots of Animals and Uganda
The schedule suited my time in Uganda exactly and was a great opportunity to view some of the top wildlife and natural wonders of the country. Lodgings range from mid-range to near upscale and are in beautiful locations. Food is good and ample. My driver, Stanley, was expert at spotting wildlife and, very importantly on the Ugandan roads, a careful and skilled driver. You see various parts of the country on this tour, and due to distances, be aware you'll spend quite a few hours on the road. One thing they might add is an itinerary going into more detail ahead of time on each day's activity and suggested things to bring. I was concerned about the needed COVID test for return home, but they took care of arranging that, and it turned out successfully. Overall the tour was a real highlight and is highly recommended.

Justo Nov 18, 2019

I went on an 11 day safari visiting Kampala, Jinja, Lake Mburo NP, Bwindi NP, Queen Elizabeth NP and Kibale NP. Communications with Ngoni were prompt and easy from the start. As soon as I made my booking, Sedrick contacted me through WhatsApp and guided me through the rest of the process. Leading up to the tour he made sure I was well-prepared to begin. He was always very clear and friendly. Service was exceptional. I had the pleasure of going on this safari with three members of Ngoni's staff - Sedrick, Nelson and Joel. These guys made my comfort their priority from the moment we met. Whether it was checking if I was okay with the accommodations or making sure I always had a bottle of water, I always felt like I was being well taken care of. Nelson is an excellent guide. His knowledge about the flora and fauna of Uganda was extensive, always able to answer any questions I had and was eager to teach - it's obvious that he has a great love for his country and it's environment and is eager to share this love with his clients. My experience with Ngoni and Uganda surpassed all expectations I had. Absolutely amazing, and thanks to the guys at Ngoni it feels like a new home - can't wait to come back and visit. Webale, brothers!

Stephany Aug 13, 2019
Sedrick was unique and stood out from the rest in the high quality communication he provided since the first inquiry. He called me to provide information about the itinerary and see if I had any questions even before booking the tour. We communicated through WhatsApp for any other questions that came to mind after that call. After picking me up from the airport, he and Pilot (additional tour guide) provided plenty of information about the country to give me some context and we started our long drive to the impenetrable forest. The food was delicious with many options; the accommodation was very clean with exceptional service; and the transportation from Entebbe to Bwindi park was very comfortable (although long). As a solo female traveler, both tour guides (Sedrick and Pilot) did an exceptional job at enduring I accomplished everything intended to in Uganda, and always made me feel safe. I highly recommend to book your safari with this company because the quality and professionalism will not let you down.

Shakira Dec 14, 2018

Ngoni safaris uganda is the best tour operator in Uganda. A few weeks back we traveled to Bwindi impenetrable with sedrick to explore the beauty that is Uganda. This company took care of us . with most comfortable car , Great guide .We highly recommend it to the next travelers

Winnie Dec 19, 2018
I was going on a gorilla safari with my friend and this was going to be the first ever safari for the both of us. Luckily, the communication with the office was super easy and we got answers to all of the questions we needed. The driver / guide (Sedrick) was very professional and funny and made our time very pleasant. Also, he had a proper knowledge of the local area close to the Mgahinga national park and he promptly spoke some 7 languages which we thought was super positive. The safari was surely the highlight of out East African trip!

Ritah Jan 2, 2019
My Team and I did a five day trip, including Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Murchison Falls and Kidepo. It was truly an incredible experience. Our guide, Sedrick, was knowledgeable, skilled in driving in some challenging settings and just plain fun to hang out with for five days. The lodging was perfect, especially Savannah Lodge. The tents and beds were high quality. The views were spectacular. Meals were delicious and varied. I recommend Ngoni safaris Uganda with all my heart and soul!

Pilot May 28, 2019
Our six days trip was amazing. The driver/guide had an incredible knowledge of animal and bird-life and are so interesting to talk to. His driving skills through lashing rain and massive puddles was admirable! The cooks managed to produce varied and delicious meals from the kitchen, which we ate both at accommodation or roadside when we were travelling from one place to another . At all times we felt safe and well-looked after. All in all, an incredible experience, due not only to the abundance of wildlife we were lucky enough to see, but also to the great efforts put to have our Safari a better one . The safari was full of fun. Traveling with ngoni safaris is my life time memorable experience and I highly recommend it to travellers who would love to visit uganda or EastAfrica for holidays, vacations or Adventure.. Even five stars are too small .