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Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Africa

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Where will I get the best Gorilla Trekking Experience – Uganda or Rwanda?

In general, the experience can only be different due to the way a particular gorilla family behaves in front of the trackers, how long and tough one has to track before reaching the gorillas, and the way the park staff conducts the exercise. Personally, I found the Rwanda gorilla tracking package more charming than the Ugandan one on the tracking day. Should we say that this’s because of the gorilla permit price difference? Anyways, on your gorilla tracking day in Rwanda, you will definitely get more than that. At about 7:00 AM, tea/ coffee dispensers with cups are laid for visitors going for the trek. You are free to take as much as you wish. As visitors are enjoying the tea/ coffee, they are entertained by the lively traditional dance troupe (SACOLA Traditional Dancers) who bring on a wholesome Rwanda traditional cultural experience all visitors enjoy.

Of course, you can get this in Uganda in the evenings (at a fee) from the various traditional cultural groups that are near the park. However, the drive from Kampala to Bwindi is a very fabulous one traversing at least another national park (either Kibale or Queen Elizabeth National Park famous for tree-climbing lions and many other big mammals, or Lake Mburo National Park) and not to miss- the Equator. In a way, even before you arrive in Bwindi you have had a bit of the ‘Pearl of Africa’ as is fondly known. To many, driving along paved eucalyptus avenues to the gorillas is not the best deal. Indeed many do purchase tour packages combining both Rwanda and Uganda, first doing Gorillas in Rwanda and then crossing to Uganda to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park for the Big 5 safaris and chimpanzee tracking among other tours.

How expensive is gorilla tracking tour, which is more expensive, is Rwanda more costly than Uganda? 

Because of the long drive, one endures from Kampala to Bwindi; the general cost is increased (even when you travel by public buses). It even increases more because you have to travel 2 days (to and from Bwindi). However, the increased cost is countered by the low-cost gorilla permit of US$700.  If you are 2 persons, the cost of a Uganda gorilla trek tour is $1152 per person in lower budget accommodation and if you are solo the gorilla tour price is USD1400 for the  3 days gorilla trek tour in Uganda including the gorilla permit, accommodation, and transport) for one person on tour. The two days Rwanda gorilla trek costs about $1950 (with gorilla permit, accommodation, and transport), and a three days Rwanda gorilla tracking tour costs is about $2030 (with gorilla permit, accommodation, and transport).

What other differences are there in gorilla trekking safaris between Uganda and Rwanda?

Lastly, if you are not traveling just to see the mountain gorilla, and you want to include other activities in your visit, Rwanda may not be the best choice. Many tourists have continually had to cross to Uganda after their Rwanda gorilla trek to tour other reserves like Queen Elizabeth National Parks so endowed with abundant wildlife one cannot see in Rwanda. This is why probably folks continue enduring the long drives to Bwindi yet there is an easy way out.

At the end of the day – the ultimate jury are those who are looking as to which country to visit in order to track Gorillas – it is not Rwanda, not Uganda, not the Democratic Republic of Congo but where their pockets and hearts choose. If you precisely want the mountain gorillas and nothing else, go for a one-day gorilla trek but if you are one who wants it and all of it, go for the long drive – you won’t regret…

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