Upsides & Downsides of Gorilla Trekking in Uganda will give you an insight into the advantages and disadvantages of gorilla trekking in Uganda. Gorilla trekking in Africa and the world is done in 3 countries namely Uganda, Rwanda and DRC; these countries all have natural habitats that harbour mountain gorillas and some of the mountain gorillas in these habitats have been habituated for trekking purposes. These countries each have unique policies concerning gorilla trekking that may complement or complicate your gorilla trekking experience.
Rwanda is known for its Luxury safaris so for you to have a gorilla trekking experience in Rwanda, you will have to part with a lump sum of money for the entire experience, not to mention a gorilla trekking permit alone costs 1500 USD.
DRC has the cheapest gorilla permit ticket prices at USD 400; however with the insecurity in the country, your safety is not guaranteed and the cost of ensuring your safety while on your safari is pretty hefty, it makes the entire experience quite expensive.
And that leaves you with Uganda. Uganda has the fairest price of the gorilla trekking permits at 600 USD and additional costs for your safari are also fair plus the country is safe, so you can have a great and satisfactory gorilla trekking safari at an affordable cost. Below are some of the upsides of you having a mountain gorilla trekking experience in Uganda.
- The gorilla permit prices: as Rwanda’s gorilla permits cost 1500 USD, Uganda’s gorilla permits cost 600 USD which is almost half the Rwanda cost. This is a very affordable price for the permits and also makes it easy for you to cater for the other costs of your safari within an affordable budget.
- Number of Gorillas: Compared to the other 3 countries Uganda has the highest number of the mountain gorilla, over 600 gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park alone and more in Mgahinga National park. With 19 families habituated in Bwindi National Park and 1 habituated in Mgahinga National Park, you are assured of sighting the gorillas on your trekking experience. When you take your trekking experience you are assured of seeing the gorillas and enjoying the recommended one hour interacting with them.
- Mountain gorilla habituation: Because of the high number of gorillas in Bwindi National Park, there are usually gorilla families being habituated for trekking experiences, and you can have a chance to take part in one of the habituation processes in the park at a permit cost of 1500 USD. This gorilla habituation experience is only available in Uganda’s Bwindi National Park and not in any other country or park. The Gorilla habituation process gives you four hours with the mountain gorillas, to interact with them, study them, and learn various facts about their lives and habitat among other things. This experience is very beneficial for you if you want to learn more about mountain gorillas.
- Other safari activities in the parks: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is covered by one of the most biodiverse rainforests that is not only home to the mountain gorillas but other forest species and a wide range of bird species. This fact makes it possible for you take part in other activities on your safari like bird watching, trekking other animals in the forest, nature walks to experience the diversity of the rain forest, forest biking and community walks to experience the unique people around the park.
Mgahinga National Park is also home to the endangered golden monkeys, so on top of your gorilla trekking, you can also have a golden monkey trekking expedition and also visit the unique Batwa community that lives around the park. You can also visit one of the deepest lakes in Africa, Lake Bunyonyi which is 30 mins away from Mgahinga National Park.
- Safety: Uganda is a safe country so, even on your mountain gorilla trekking experience, you’re assured of your safety in and out of the park and on the way to and from the park.
- Accessibility: You can access Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park, either from Uganda’s capital Kampala or from Kigali city, by road or by air. This makes the parks very accessible for you and flexible for your schedule in case you have other things to do when on your safari. From Uganda’s capital to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park is 8 to 9 hours by road and by flight is 2 hours to the parks. From Kigali to Bwindi National Park is 3- 4 hours and to Mgahinga National Park 2- 3 hours by road.
- The accommodation facilities: the accommodation facilities in both Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park are well equipped with great rooms, up to date facilities and restaurants to meet all your travel needs and they range from budget, midrange, and luxury. This variety of accommodation gives you the chance to choose what suits your needs and budget best. These accommodations are also in close proxy with the parks so you are able to get to the park in time for your trekking experience. The accommodation facilities include but not limited to:- Buhoma Lodge, Buhoma Lodge, Mahogany springs lodge, Nkuringo Bwindi gorilla lodge, Gorilla mist camp, Bwindi forest lodge, Bwindi jungle lodge, Gorilla forest camp, Ruhija gorilla safari lodge, among others.
- Communication: Uganda being an English speaking country, most of the locals in Uganda are able to speak English; meaning on your Uganda safari you will have ease of communication with your guide, rangers, accommodation staff, authorities, service providers, etc. unlike Rwanda and DRC which are French-speaking countries that you will need an interpreter when you’re on a safari in either of the countries.
The downsides to gorilla trekking in Uganda are only two and are:-
- The long travel from Kampala’s capital to Bwindi National Park or Mgahinga National Park which is 8 to 9 hours or more. This journey is so tiring that it may wear you out before you get to the park and even on your back from the trekking experience. However if you a fan of road trips this is a great deal for you.
Plus you can avoid the long drive, by accessing Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga National Park from Kigali city, which is a short route. You can also access the parks by air from Entebbe international airport.
- The trekking terrains in both Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park are rough and fairly difficult to trek if you are not fit and up to it especially during the rainy seasons. Plus the gorillas live in high altitudes in both forests so you will trek for a long time before you reach the gorillas. Though this may look like a downside on your trekking experience, it’s the reason the adventure is thrilling and fulfilling. Technically it’s not a downside.
- Because Uganda is the best option for Gorilla trekking safaris, the gorilla trekking permits are always on high demand, meaning you have to book your gorilla trekking permit way in advance 3 – 5 months in advance for you to be assured of taking your trekking experience.
With these Upsides & Downsides of Gorilla Trekking in Uganda, you can decide where you want to trek gorillas.