Why Is Uganda Best For Gorilla Trekking?
Tracking mountain gorillas is the biggest dream of every wildlife-loving tourist. However, their scarcity and uneven distribution around the world makes their tracking so costly especially to those living in the Western world. They have to travel all the way to the three neighboring countries in East Africa where these gentle giants can only be found. These countries are Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with the world’s only four-mountain gorilla tracking destinations. Fortunately, two national parks hat shelter these endangered species are in Uganda presenting you with the first clear reason to guide your decision regarding the best destination for your gorilla safari for a close encounter with the critically endangered mountain gorillas. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park both in Uganda shelter over 480-mountain gorillas available for travelers. The recent gorilla census results show that Uganda is a home to over half of the world’s mountain gorilla population. This means that if you are really looking forward to track a variety of mountain gorillas, then Uganda is your answer. The other gorilla national parks a away from Uganda are Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park. These two parks plus Mgahinga in Uganda share borders and altogether make up the Virunga Conservation Area.
However, having put all that in consideration and analyzed the major factors that most travellers consider when deciding where to go for mountain gorilla tracking like price of gorilla permits, ease of accessibility to the gorillas, variety of gorillas, gorilla families, security, accommodation and other tour affiliated activities, we can ably recommend that Uganda should your preferred mountain gorilla tacking destination. Uganda Possesses an off the beaten track in most of the areas regarding tracking mountain gorillas and below is the breakdown of some of the factors that make Uganda standout to be your best gorilla tracking destination.
Affordable gorilla permits
Today Uganda’s gorilla permit can be purchased at USD600 for foreign non-residents, 500usd for foreign n residents and 250000ush for east African residents. This cost is far more affordable compared to Rwanda’s USD1500 gorilla permit, which is paid by all travelers including Rwanda nationals all year round. While DRC’s permit at USD450 would be the most affordable, the inconsistency in her tourism activities basically because of political instabilities in the areas near the park leaves her out of this race. This means that Uganda offers the cheapest gorilla trekking experience hence the best destination for gorilla tours especially for those traveling on budget.
Distribution of gorilla families
Out of the total of 32 gorilla families available in all the three countries, Uganda possesses the majority number of 13 in total with 12 in Bwindi while the other family (Nyakagezi) stays in Mgahinga. Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park has 10 gorilla families while Virunga in Congo has got eight gorilla groups. Having the most gorilla families means more gorillas in Uganda and this gives her two advantages including the availability of gorilla permits on the market for a longer time compared to other counties given that they are very competitive. Visitors are also able to track a variety of gorillas that are habituated within these families.
Security is among the priorities of every tourist and for the case of the three countries, we can say that Uganda has a cutting edge over her neighbors. With periodic surprise attacks and kidnaps of tourists in Congo’s Virunga national park from the numerous militia groups around the park, very few travellers are willing to risk their lives by visiting the park. Although the Rwanda side with Volcanoes national park has been peaceful since early 2000s, the fact that they share borders with the unstable Eastern DRC puts them on a standby security alert. The presence of anti Rwanda government rebels in Eastern DRC near the Rwanda border area where Volcanoes national park is found has posed a big security threat in the area since a surprise attack from these militias is possible. All these when well thought of leave you with Uganda as the safest destination among the three countries for an uncompromised gorilla tracking experience.
Accommodation in and around the parks
Both of Uganda’s two gorillas tracking destinations of Bwindi and Mgahinga are not short of accommodation facilities. Bwindi’s four main trailheads of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo are all equipped with accommodation facilities ranging from upmarket lodges to midrange cottages, budget and camping facilities. Other accommodation like hotels and more lodges can be found in the nearby towns like Kisoro, Kabale and Mbarara.
Ease of switching to other tourist activities
The strategic location of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in the center surrounded with different national parks make your Uganda more interesting. Bwindi is surrounded by other potential national parks like Queen Elizabeth national park where one can easily switch on a two hours drive for game drives/game viewing and also to see the tree-climbing lions in the Ishasha sector. Kibale Forest national park is also near and visitors can switch there for the best chimpanzee tracking experience.
When it comes to trekking mountain gorillas, Uganda has tried her level best to make it as convenient as possible for her visitors through the above considerations. The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) a body responsible for all the tourism activities in the country is also still working around the clock to draft and implement programs that will ensure that Uganda’s gorilla tracking experience remain the best for all gorilla lovers around the world.