Gorilla trekking is a bucket list experience that everyone should experience once in their lives. With the recent news of Rwanda's hike in the price of gorilla permits we thought that now would be a good time to lay out the differences between gorilla trekking experiences in both Rwanda and Uganda so that you can make an informed decision on which of the two you would like to visit.
The Cost of Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda Vs Uganda
It seems pertinent to mention costs first, as this is the glaringly obvious difference between the two countries.
In May 2017, the Rwanda Development Board recently announced an increase in the price of Gorilla Permits from US$ 750 to US $1,500 for all visitors. This is of course a pretty hefty increase that may mean that for some this puts it just out of reach. Do not despair! The cost of a gorilla permit in Uganda is much more affordable. Each gorilla permit costs US $600, and in the low season the country offers discounted gorilla permits - costing just US $450 per person- more than US $1,000 cheaper than a permit in Rwanda!
The permit gives you the opportunity to spend an hour with a family of gorillas. If you think this is a bit hefty then it's important to note that you are contributing to the conservation of these endangered animals. Remember that in Rwanda you will be 1 of only 80 people a day that gets to see them, and 1 of only 96 in Uganda. This is strictly limited to these numbers so as not to impinge on the gorillas' natural lives. Their habitat is immensely fragile and every time we walk through the forest we are leaving a footprint.
To put this into perspective, a 3 night stay in Rwanda, with 2 gorilla permits included would cost upwards of AUD $9,140 per person. A 3 night stay in 5 star accommodation in Uganda, with 2 gorilla permits included would cost upwards of AUD $4,680 so it's still nearly half the price that it would be to visit Rwanda.
(Note: the prices are based on travelling in November (low season), and were correct at the time this article was published).
The Gorilla Trekking Experience in Rwanda Vs Uganda
Rwanda’s Parc National des Vocans has a slight edge over Uganda because its gorillas are the most habituated. They are often found in bamboo, rather than in the dense forests, which makes photographing a bit easier. Having said this, there really are no guarantees either way so we personally we don't feel that this should be a factor in your decision making process.
Travelling in Rwanda Vs Uganda
Rwanda’s unique selling point is the ease of access. Rwanda is certainly the best option for you, if you are combining a gorilla trekking experience with a safari to Kenya or Tanzania, or if you only have a few days to spare. You will only have a couple of hours' drive from Kigali International Airport, on great roads. In Uganda you will have to take a 8-10 hour drive, or a short flight from the international airport in Entebbe to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park so you will spend at least 3 days in Uganda.
The accommodation in Rwanda Vs Uganda
The lodges in Uganda are remote and situated in the heart of the wilderness, where as in Rwanda the accommodation is based in the town.
The accommodation is also more affordable in Uganda than in Rwanda.
In a nutshell, the notable differences between gorilla trekking in each of these two countries are that Rwanda works very well for those with time constraints and Uganda is perfect for those on a stricter budget. Both are safe, and beautiful countries that offer you this overwhelming, once in a lifetime experience that will stay with you forever!