Gorilla trekking has always been a bucket list experience for travellers to Africa. The recent visit to the Gorillas of popular TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has boosted this activity even more.
Both Rwanda and Uganda are great countries when it comes to watching these majestic creatures, but there are some very distinct differences between the two countries. Here’s what you need to know before making your choice:
What to expect in Rwanda?
The Rwandan experience doesn’t come cheap, as the Rwanda Development Board recently doubled the gorilla permit cost from $750 to $1,500 per person.
However, the increase directly benefits the local communities. Thanks to the increase in permit prices, the communal revenue-sharing rate has also gone up from 5% to 10%. As a result, communities surrounding the Volcanoes National Park have been able to build schools, hospitals and invest in local business development.
One of the greatest advantages of opting for Rwanda to view the gorillas is that the terrain is open and allows for easy hikes and great gorilla viewing. The condition of the roads is very good, the travel distances are relatively small and the infrastructure is great. This means gorilla trekking has become more accessible to MICE travellers, who want to visit the gorillas after their meetings are done and dusted. A number of new luxury lodges have also opened their doors recently in Rwanda, including the Wilderness Safaris Bisate Lodge and the One & Only’s Nyungwe Lodge.
What to expect in Uganda?
At $600, the Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda are a lot more affordable. The country also offers a much wider range of accommodation options from mid-budget to luxury. Uganda also has a fantastic chimp-trekking programme in Kibale as well as a few authentic visitor experiences with the indigenous Batwa people.
On the downside, gorilla trekking in Uganda tends to be more challenging as a result of frequent rains and slippery terrain. The vegetation is also quite thick, hence the name Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Still not sure which country to choose?
The choice might just be as simple as finding out which country has permits available. Gorilla trekking is a very regulated activity with only a limited number of permits issued daily. When clients leave the decision until very late, the choice of Rwanda or Uganda could be made for them. In any way – you can’t go wrong with either destination.