Mountain Gorillas are the largest primates in the world and the remaining number of them is found in central and East Africa; thanks to the conservation parties that have ensured safety and protection of these species. There are three countries in the world where you will have the time of your life trekking these endangered mountain gorillas.
First and foremost, you will not find gorillas in zoos, as they do not survive captivity for long. The 3 countries where you can trek gorillas are; Uganda, Rwanda and Dr. Congo.
However, we are leaving out Congo for now as it isn’t safe for tourist let alone its own citizens- most of whom have fled to Uganda due to civil wars in their homeland.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda
Uganda is one of Africa’s top destinations to watch gorillas. They can be tracked in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and also Mgahinga Gorilla National Park; both these are found in the southwestern part of Uganda. Mgahinga Park lies in the Virunga Massif which also is shared by the parks in DR Congo and Rwanda.
There are 4gorilla sectors in Bwindi; Rushaga, Ruhijja, Buhoma, and Nkuringo they are well habituated and open for tourism; Mgahinga has one habituated group known as Nyakagezi. Every group allows only 8 individuals to trek per day.
The cost of a Gorilla trekking permit in Uganda
The cost of Uganda gorilla permits varies depending on one’s nationality. A single gorilla permit to Bwindi/Mgahinga costs $600 for foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents and 250,000shs (about $68) for East African residents. All permits are bought directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) or through Gorilla Trek Africa.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda
This is where gorilla trekking is so straight-forward since the gorillas are trekked in Volcanoes National Park which is located about 80km away from Kigali International Airport which is approximately a 2hours drive. During your visit to Rwanda for Gorilla trekking, you will pay respect at Dian Fossey’s grave one of the great conservationists of these giants. Along this place are many birds and monkeys with great and stunning views of the landscape.
Cost of gorilla permits in Rwanda
A single gorilla permit in Rwanda costs $1500 per person regardless of one’s nationality. The Rwanda gorilla permits are bought from Rwanda Tourism Board or through Gorilla Trek Africa Limited. However, this price was recently doubled down from $750 to $1,500 (£572 to £1,144) in 2017.
So which is the best country for gorilla trekking
Bwindi impenetrable national park is home to more than half of the global population of mountain gorillas. Estimates show that there are about 1000 mountain gorillas in the world and about 600 of them are found in Bwindi impenetrable NP. The remaining population of mountain gorillas is found in the 3 national parks within the Virunga Mountains, that is, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in DR Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
With those numbers and the gorilla trekking permit cost for each of the countries, it is now safe to say that Uganda is the best country for gorilla trekking. And although Rwanda markets itself as the deluxe Gorilla Tracking Country, Uganda beats it by price, value and numbers.
But we are not the only ones who have come to this conclusion; Travel companies and big corporation such as National Geographic Traveller, Lonely Planet, CNN Travel, Fodor’s Travel, Telegraph Newspaper and a few other international travel resources agree too.
Uganda is the only Country with two Mountain Gorilla Park, Mgahinga Gorilla Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with 4 Trailheads, It offers an authentic trekking experience for both the Budget to Luxury Traveler. There is no central Gorilla Trekking point, there are four, which means decentralized lodging and support facilities and has more of that Wilderness Feel to it.