Uganda and Rwanda are two of the three countries with the remaining populations of the endangered mountain gorillas on earth and the safest countries where tourists can track gorillas in their natural habitats. Mountain gorillas are some of the core wildlife attractions in both Uganda and Rwanda and every day a number of tourists from different parts of the world trek the forested mountains to meet the mountain gorilla in their natural environment. Tracking these apes is very rewarding however lets quickly look at a quick comparison of the mountain gorilla safaris in Uganda and Rwanda
The Mountain Gorilla Families
Uganda’s mountain gorillas live in Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga gorilla national parks. In total, Uganda has about 450-mountain gorillas with13 habituated mountain gorilla families 12 living in Bwindi impenetrable forest and 1 in Mgahinga gorilla national park. These mountain gorilla families are open for tourist visitation with only 8 tourists tracking one gorilla family in a day.
Rwanda on the other hand has about 350 mountain gorillas (half of the mountain gorillas in the Virunga volcanoes) with 10 habituated mountain gorilla families. Just like Uganda, only 8 tourists track one mountain gorilla family in a day.
The Trekking Rules And Regulations
The mountain gorilla trekking rules and regulations in Uganda and Rwanda are the same. The rules and regulations are in place to ensure the safety of the tourists while in the jungle. These are given to the tourists as instructions on the day of tracking as they are being briefed. The major rules and regulations include the following
Strictly 8 tourists are allowed to track one mountain gorilla family, which they spend with an hour.
Tourists while in the forest are supposed to:
- Keep a reasonable distance away from the mountain gorillas
- Avoid making noise while in the forest
- Avoid imitating mountain gorilla characters like beating the chest
- Avoid a direct eye contact while facing the mountain gorillas
- Stay in the tracking groups to avoid getting lost
- Follow the guides instructions while in the jungle
The Price Of The Mountain Gorilla Permits
Mountain gorilla tracking permits of Rwanda are slightly expensive than those of Uganda. A permit in Rwanda is sold at $750 while in Uganda at $600 during the peak season and at $400 during the low tourists season.
Note that those in Rwanda are sold at $750 through out the year. These permits can be got from trusted tour operators or from the national organizations in charge (Uganda Wildlife Authority and Rwanda Development Board).
The Mountain Gorilla Trekking Experience
Some tourists who have had mountain gorilla safaris in Uganda and Rwanda say that trekking in Rwanda is not very tiresome as in Uganda however this cannot be relied on a lot because in both countries, the mountain gorillas live in the forested mountains and therefore trekking the gorillas involves hiking the forested mountains.
Generally, the mountain gorilla experience in Uganda and Rwanda is a little similar because it involves hiking for some time (1 to 8 hours) and there are chances of not seeing the mountain gorillas in any of the two countries because they are mobile animals that move from one place to another. It’s also possible for a tourists group to get to the allocated mountain gorillas family within a short period of time in both Uganda and Rwanda.
The only difference of mountain gorilla safaris in Uganda and Rwanda is the time taken to reach the national parks. Time taken to travel from Kigali to volcanoes national park is about 2 to 3 hours which means that its very possible for one to track mountain gorillas and catch a flight the same day which is not the case in Uganda because getting to Bwindi or Mgahinga gorilla national park from Entebbe international airport takes about 8 to 9 hours drive making it impossible for one to track the gorillas and travel the same day.
The gorillas in Uganda live in thick vegetation cover and taking their photographs as not as easy as taking the photographs of the gorillas in Rwanda that are usually in the more clear bamboo forests with enough lighting for photography.