Seeing the wonder that is the Highland Mountain Gorilla is a truly memorable experience.
Seeing the wonder that is the Highland Mountain Gorilla is a truly memorable experience in Rwanda or Uganda, with a 99% success rate (In the DRC, the species is slightly different, the Lowland Gorilla). Our first suggestion would be to visit both Uganda and Rwanda, but here are the differences in experience if this luxury is not on offer to you:
In Rwanda, the park is only 2.5 hours drive from the international airport in Kigali (whereas in Uganda is a longer drive or a short flight). The Gorillas are at a higher altitude but the trek is generally considered an easier experience, it takes roughly 3 to 5 hours trekking to see the Gorillas in Rwanda. With regards to choice, in Rwanda, the groups are allocated on the day of the trek, so if you don't fancy going 8 hours up a mountain, you can generally make sure you end up in a closer located group. NB. If you are a USA passport holder, you do not require a visa to enter Rwanda, you do however require a visa to enter Uganda and this can be obtained at the port of entry. In Rwanda, it costs USD 750 for a Gorilla permit (per person for an hours viewing plus the trek) and there are 80 Gorilla permits released per day as there are 10 Gorilla families visited per 8 people per group per day.
Uganda has more to offer the visitor in terms of an entire safari including other activities and excellent National Parks (plus Chimpanzee trekking) after or before your trek. The drive to Bwindi takes between 10 and 12 hours (usually broken up with a night in Lake Mburo NP) from Entebbe or there is a new scheduled flight. Uganda's Gorillas are at a lower altitude but can be a steeper trek, the ImpenetrableFforest is thicker and the terrain is steeper, the walk varies much more than in Rwanda; it can take anything from 1 to 8 hours in Uganda to spend your one hour with the Gorillas. With regards to trekking choice, Gorilla tracking groups are allocated to guests at the time of buying the permits with little flexibility in choosing your preferred family and because Bwindi is bigger, Gorilla tracking does not all start at the same place as in Rwanda – there are different start points in the South and in the North of Bwindi and you usually track the Gorilla families resident in the area near the lodge in which you are staying. In Uganda it is still USD 500 for a Gorilla permit (per person for an hours viewing plus the trek), there are two areas to visit Gorillas, the north and the south, each part has 4 families visited by 8 people per day therefore 64 Gorilla permits released per day in total.
For both countries, there is plenty of accommodation options available but the style would depend on your preference and budget. Travel to Rwanda and Uganda with The SAFARI Company, because we are passionate about Africa.