Without any doubt, Uganda and Rwanda are known as the best destinations for gorilla tracking in the whole world, however truth it may be, there has been several debates in contrast which provides the finest regard to gorilla trekking experience, and photography. It must be put into consideration that mountain gorillas are regarded as endangered species and according to the last population census carried on them in 2013 there about 1000 individuals left in the world and among these a half of the world’s population live in Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable forest located in the south western part of Uganda over 480 individuals live in this park. The rest are found within the Virunga ranges which are shared by Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park in the north western part, DRC’s Virunga National Park and the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. People who have got chance to track in each country have different experience in contrast and views, however what we have here are certainly not the reality however its reliant on people’s views.
Travel time to the Gorilla Parks
Gorillas in Rwanda can be reached in just a drive of about 2-3 hours from the Kigali Rwanda’s capital city to volcanoes national park located in Ruhengeri Musanze district in the north western part of Rwanda. In contrast, Uganda gorillas are found in the south- western part of Uganda in a drive of about 9-10 hours from Kampala Uganda’s capital and largest city up to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Park. When comparing the driving distance Rwanda takes it all due to a shortest distance it covers to the gorilla park. However some of the clients yet said that the long distance from Entebbe to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park gives an experience it filled with striking views, a stopover at the equator-crossing and certainly the Kigezi adulating hills making the total safari exciting.
Gorilla tracking fee (Permits)
No one is allowed to track gorillas without a gorilla permit and it’s advised to book earlier prior to your tracking date at least 3-5 months before you set up your safari and this applies to both countries. Rwanda gorilla permits costs $ 750 per person per tracking and this includes the park entry fee plus the ranger guides and permits in Rwanda are acquired at the Rwanda tourism board Offices (ORTPN) found in Kigali (close to the PNV). Whereas in Uganda gorilla permits are at a fee of $ 600 per person per tracking, park entry fee and ranger guides is included on that money, and permits are bought at the Uganda wildlife Authority (UWA). Uganda gorilla permits fees are subjected to seasons in the high seasons gorilla permits are got at $600 while the low seasons April –May they costs $350 per person including the park entry fee both in Bwindi and Mgahinga. Thus this means that gorilla tracking within Rwanda is more expensive in comparison to gorilla trekking within Uganda. If you track in Uganda you end up saving about $150 in the high season and about $350 in the low seasons and will use the rest of the money to track the chimpanzees within Kibale National Park or Queen Elizabeth N.P
Gorilla Family distribution
In terms of allocating gorilla families within Rwanda, the gorilla families and permits are allocated basing on health, age, interest and physical fitness of a tourist and this is made clear during the briefing before the gorilla safari commences. Those who are adventurous and physically fit are allocated to hard families and those who are weak, old, less physically fit are given easy to find gorilla families which are close. But in Uganda this is not the case, Gorilla permits are sold on first came first served basis without considering the, age, health and fitness along with other essential variables. So gorilla tracking in Rwanda is more flexible than in Uganda.
Watching and Photography
Mountain gorillas in Rwanda can be viewed easily and photography is much clear as compared to the Bwindi gorillas. Rwanda gorillas are found in the bamboo forests and short grass that has caused it better when it comes to viewing plus photography. The impenetrable forest of Uganda at times results into bad visibility as well as photography because of the tall grass. However viewing in some families in Uganda is clear like in the Nshongi family within Rushegura, Nshongi among other have better views.
When it comes to lodging and accommodation, Uganda is far much better compared to Rwanda. Uganda has several accommodations within the four trails that are Rushaga, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Buhoma. In each trail you can still find at least 2 up market accommodations and also other alternatives to mention some lodges include (Luxury) Buhoma Lodge/ Mahogany Lodge/ Chameleon Hill Lodge/ Lake Mutanda Resort (mid-range) Engagi Lodge/ Silverback Lodge / Gorilla Safari Lodge/ Gorilla Resort Bwindi/ Gorilla Mist Camp, (budget)Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp or Travelers Rest Hotel, Gorilla Valley Lodge or Buhoma Community Campground. In terms of Rwanda, there a number of lodges however only one sticks out and that’s Virunga Lodge that is usually full and costly. Other lodges include Sabyinya Silverback Lodge, Gorilla nest Lodge, (luxury) Le Bambou Lodge and Kinigi Guest House.
Apart from gorillas which other activities done
Besides mountain gorillas Uganda is blessed by very many natural wonders it hosts over 1012 species of birds, it’s where in the world you can spot the tree climbing lions in the famous part of Queen Elizabeth national park Ishasha area, you can see them sited on fig trees or tree blanches, still It has got the source of the Nile the longest river in the world, where it begins 3000 kilometer journey to the Mediterranean Sea. It’s located in Jinja and around the Nile you can try river rafting and bungee jumping. And many fishing activities can be arranged on Lake Victoria the biggest fresh lake in Africa, Uganda houses 10 national parks and reserves which provide uncrowded viewing of the varied animals, birds and plant species, the famous Rwenzori mountains also provide challenging expedition. Uganda was chosen the very best location by lonely planet. All these among other attractions make Uganda the best in terms of tourist attraction, Rwanda has only three national parks that’s volcanoes national park, Nyungwe forest national park and Akagera National Park.