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gorilla trekking uganda or rwanda

Where To Go Gorilla Trekking

Before David Attenborough’s breathless encounter with mountain gorillas in 1979, most people believed that mountain gorillas were dangerous. Today we know better: we have nothing to fear from these gentle and highly endangered primates. And visiting them in their natural habitat – the mountain forests of equatorial Africa – has become one of the planet’s ultimate wildlife experiences. Indeed, gorillas – compared with their less predictable cousins the chimps are very relaxed animals.

Today the mountain gorilla is confined to the Virungas, a cluster of forested volcanoes that straddle the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It is much rarer than its lowland cousins further west but – thanks largely to American primatologist Dian Fossey, of Gorillas in the Mist fame – much better known. Fossey’s work in Rwanda during the Sixties and Seventies radically changed our perception of these animals and, in the process, paved the way for today’s tourist industry.

Where to go

Rwanda or Uganda have a similar number of habituated gorilla troops, but there are important differences.

Rwanda’s gorillas live in Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans), about two hours’ drive north west from the capital Kigali. There are several good lodges in the vicinity. A trek can be done over a stay of just two nights, though another night will allow you to relax and explore further. All treks start from park HQ in the village of Kinigi.

Rwanda also offers the easier trekking: your chances of a shorter hike are higher and you will have more flexibility on the day, with rangers allocating groups to troops according to fitness levels.

Uganda’s gorillas are just over the border in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a full day’s drive from Entebbe or Kampala. Allow three nights. Treks start from four different points, several hours’ drive apart. This will determine which lodge you stay in.

Uganda gorilla trekking hikes are often longer and steeper, although some prefer this “wilder” challenge.

Permit costs in Uganda are cheaper than in Rwanda.

When To Go

It is important to note that mountain gorillas treks can be conducted all year round in both Uganda and Rwanda but due to the somewhat seasonal rains experienced in these national parks, the majority of tourists prefer visiting from June to September as well as from December up to February.You can visit Bwindi at any time of the year, the low season calls for cheaper gorilla permit price.

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