When the first time travelers hear of gorilla trekking in Africa, there are three countries come to their minds. the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. These are the only countries that host the mountain gorillas and probably they have been the best destinations to enjoy gorilla trekking safaris in Africa.
Best Places to Go for Safaris
Rwanda and Uganda have continuously become the most destinations for the popular mountain gorilla treks due to the peace and security exhibited in these countries over the years. Since the end of the 1994 Genocide, Rwanda has been stable and safe for tourists who visit the northern part of the country.
Uganda has also realized peace and stability since 1986 with the exception of the sad incident that occurred in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in 1999 when Rwandan Rebels attacked a gorilla campsite and killed eight foreign tourists and four Ugandans. Tourists who visit Uganda feel more safe than when within any other destination.
This is not the same with the D.R.Congo that is still nursing her wounds of off and on civil conflicts that affect the Eastern Part of the Country. The Eastern Part is the home of Virunga national park the main hub of mountain gorilla tourism in this country.
Talking of the transit distances and time on the road to access gorilla trekking regions; Rwanda is the best destination to visit. Rwanda scores more marks when it comes to proximity to the trekking destinations. Even in a 1 day excursion one can trek gorillas and get back to the city or even fly back home. The Volcanoes National park is very close to Rwanda’s capital Kigali which allows tourists to reach the gorillas in a shortest period of time possible making gorilla trekking in Rwanda relatively easier than in Uganda which involves long driving distances from Kampala to Bwindi forest national park and Mgahinga national park.
A typical and shortest gorilla trekking safari in Uganda requires a minimum of at least 2 days to have an exclusive encounter with these apes and this is possible from Kigali, Rwanda. From Kampala, the trip takes a minimum of 3 Days (2 Nights). This attracts more time and additional costs of traveling either by road or flight from Entebbe International Airport.
When it comes to the DR Congo, visitors have to cross to Goma via Gisenyi Rwanda then to Virunga national park or from Kisoro in South Western Uganda in search for the endangered mountain gorilla. To track the eastern lowland gorillas of Kahuzi Biega, the trip starts from Kigali via Bukavu.
WINNER: Rwanda therefore presents a more convenient and timely gorilla trekking experience than Uganda and D.R.Congo.
Addons to a Gorilla Trek
When it comes to addons on a gorilla trek, there are lots of things to do after your gorilla safari.
Within Rwanda, some activities to add on your gorilla trek include the Iby’wachu Cultural Experience, an excursion to the twin lakes, Dian Fossey Hike, Golden monkey tracking and more. You can also easily access the Lake Kivu and also combine your safari with two other national parks; Akagera National Park and Nyungwe Forest National Park.
For Uganda, the country offers a lot to travelers. You can visit the Batwa, go golden monkey tracking, take nature walks, go birding etc. Uganda offers a chance to enjoy a variety of en-route attractions and countryside scenic viewing. During your gorilla safari in Bwindi, visitors can make different stopovers at the equator line for a local water experience that proves the earth’s division into two hemispheres (northern and southern). Other destinations you can include on your trip are Lake Mburo national park, Queen Elizabeth National park and Lake Bunyonyi. The magical rural setting of the terraced hills of Kigezi region rewards you with breathtaking scenic views. Tourists can even easily notice the long distance it is from Kampala to Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks making gorilla trekking in Uganda also a thrilling experience.
Prices & Costs of the Tour
When it comes to costs of the gorilla tour, Uganda takes advantage of the packaged tour. Uganda offers a relatively low priced gorilla permits at US$ 600 per person than Rwanda, after a heavy lift in its gorilla permit price by the Rwandan government from 750$ to US $ 1500.
Of the three destinations, D.R. Congo stands out as the cheapest option, with Virunga and Kahuzi-Biega National park gorilla permits are sold at only US$ 400 per person. However, despite of the low priced permits, D.R.Congo has not been able to attract a reasonable number of visitors like her counterparts due to the unstable security conditions in the gorilla regions.