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Comparison with other Gorilla destinations
Only about 1000 mountain gorillas are left in the world. This not only makes mountain gorillas endangered but also a rare experience for those that trek the rainforests in search of them. Mountain gorillas can be found in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National park in Uganda
Here are some similarities and differences in how each park offers its gorilla safaris.
What is Different
Gorilla trekking permits
The Price of a gorilla permit varies depending on which country one is trekking in. Volcanoes National Park- Rwanda charges a fee of 1500 USD for a visitor interested in tracking gorillas. This fee includes park entry charges and guide charges. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park-Uganda, charge a fee of 700 USD per person.
Volcanoes National Park has a total of 12 habituated gorilla families currently that are available for gorilla trekking. On the other hand, Bwindi which has a total of 15 habituated gorilla families currently all available for gorilla trekking experiences. Mgahinga has 1 habituated gorilla family. Bwindi has more mountain gorilla groups available for trekking compared to Volcanoes and Mgahinga
Distance to the trekking locations
Volcanoes National Park is nearer to the country’s capital and easily accessible in terms of road distance compared to Bwindi and Mgahinga in Uganda which may require longer hours of driving. Bwindi impenetrable national park from Kampala is about 460 km approximately 8- 10 hours drive by road. Mgahinga gorilla is 494.8 km from Kampala approximately 10-12 hours drive by road. While Volcanoes national park is about 106.3 km from Kigali close to 2 hours drive on a smooth road from Kigali- Rwanda’s capital.
How difficult is the trek?
Although Volcanoes National Park is at a higher elevation, its treks are considered less steep and slippery compared to the ones Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
What is more or less similar?
Volcanoes National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga gorilla National parks offer Guided gorilla experiences
The gorillas tracking experience is usually through the dense forest with the help of a guide. During the trek, the guide communicates constantly with the trackers to access the best spot to meet the gentle apes.
When is the best season to trek gorilla?
Although it is argued that gorillas can be trekked all year round, some months are better than others. Heavy rains throughout the year make the trails muddy and slippery which makes trekking tiresome in either of the parks.
How much time can one spend with the gorillas?
Visitors are allowed one hour of ultimate experience with the gorillas at either park. This is usually after finding a gorilla group of interest where visitors can observe the gentle apes, take lifetime photographs, learn about their behavior and head back to the park after this.
How long is the trekking?
Gorilla treks are different and unique. Whereas some can last from 30 minutes, others can go on to four hours or more depending on the movement of the mountain gorilla group one is tracking. Whether short or long trekking the parks offer a remarkable gorilla adventure.
Required age for trekking
Visitors must be 15 years and above for them to be allowed to go gorilla trekking. This restriction is the same at all parks and it is meant to prevent the spread of diseases especially chicken pox and mumps from gorillas to humans and vice versa.
Visitor Safety and precaution briefs
Visitors at either park are first briefed before they embark on the quest to trek gorillas. The activity is mandatory for every visitor who plans to trek gorillas be it in Bwindi, Mgahinga or Volcanoes National Park. Briefing is done in the morning hours between 6am to 7am. It is often a caution-guided session given to visitors in preparation of how to behave themselves along the trekking trails and in the midst of the gorillas.