A guide to Planning a Uganda and Rwanda gorilla trekking combo
Planning a Uganda and Rwanda gorilla trekking combo takes time and energy for one to get the best out of these two nations that are home to the rare and endangered mountain gorillas. In this article, we have labored to put together key points to consider when planning to combine Uganda and Rwanda for your gorilla trekking extravaganza. There are several reasons a person would love to visit mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda, yet visiting one of the mentioned countries would be enough.
Why do some tourists prefer visiting both Rwanda and Uganda for gorilla trekking?
The experience of gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda is almost the same but one asks self that if this is so, why should someone visit gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda? Below are some of the key reasons why.
To compare the gorilla trekking experience
There has been so much debating online and on many social media platforms about which country is better when it comes to gorilla trekking. While others will say it is Rwanda and the rest say it is Uganda, you can only at testify to this if you practically book a combined gorilla trekking safari to Uganda and Rwanda to have a feel of each by visiting mountain gorillas in each of the countries.
The other reason is that most people who come to Africa for gorilla trekking come from as far as United States of America, Asia, Europe and Australia. Gorilla trekking being one of the most expensive and life time experience, most people would love to give it their all by visiting to great gorilla trekking nations of Uganda and Rwanda since they can’t guess when they will ever come back to Africa. So, to get the best out of their visit to Africa for gorilla trekking, combine two countries on their African safari is the reason why people prefer engaging and planning a Uganda and Rwanda gorilla trekking combo.
This to consider why planning a Uganda and Rwanda gorilla trekking safari combo
Where to see mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda
You can not start planning a Uganda and Rwanda gorilla trekking combo without knowing where mountain gorillas leave in either country. One should start by establishing that who ever plans to visit Africa to trek mountain gorillas in Rwanda will have to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga in case of Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
If you choose to combine Bwindi impenetrable National Park and Volcanoes National Park, some of the reasons to consider should be the price of gorilla permits for both National Park, which side of Bwindi impenetrable National Park I should visit, how to get to Bwindi and Volcanoes and also how to combine Uganda and Rwanda as this will involve flights and the best itinerary to suit your combined safari.
A brief about gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable National Park
Bwindi impenetrable National Park is one of the two parks in Uganda that have mountain gorillas. In fact, Bwindi impenetrable National Park has the highest number of mountain gorillas in the whole world. This therefore means that it is much more appealing to visit Bwindi impenetrable National Park if you are a first timer than Mgahinga National Park. For records, Bwindi impenetrable National Park has over 19 habituated mountain gorilla families spread in four regions of Buhome, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga meaning that you will be spoilt of choice if you decide to include Bwindi impenetrable National Park in your gorilla trek when planning a Uganda and Rwanda gorilla trekking combo.
Located in southwestern Uganda, one can access Bwindi impenetrable National Park by landing at Entebbe International Airport and then drive 9-10 hours by road to one of the four gorilla trekking regions of Bwindi. That is Rushaga and Nkuringo in the south of the park or Buhoma and Ruhija in the northern and eastern part of Bwindi impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi impenetrable National Park gorilla permits are issued depending on regions. You can book gorilla permits for Ruhija, Buhoma, Nkuringo or rushaga. It is the gorilla permit you are holding that will determine the region, lodge and road to access that region so before you book your accommodation and all the other services, you need to first secure your gorilla permit as it will determine all the other related services. To avoid all this confusion, services of a tour operator like Encounter Africa safaris will come in handy. We will take care of all your much needed services such as booking your gorilla permit, advising on the best time to visit, accommodation in Bwindi as well as transport while on safari.
Before land boarders between Uganda and Rwanda were closed, it was much easier to drive from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park via Chanika boarder. It is about 2-3 hours’ drive from the southern part of Bwindi impenetrable National Park to Volcanoes National Park via chanika boarder. We are hopeful that the land boarder will open soon to make it easier for those planning a Uganda and Rwanda gorilla trekking combined holiday in years to come. For more information about Bwindi impenetrable National Park, please feel free to contact Encounter Africa Safaris and fixers.
A brief about Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National Park is one of the two Uganda gorilla national park and the smallest mountain gorilla park in the world. Located in the Virunga ranges together with Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Mgahinga has only one habituated family for trekking. When combining Uganda and Rwanda for gorilla trekking, Mgahinga is the best since Volcanoes NP and Mghinga are the combined in the same forest but only separated by political boundaries of Uganda and Rwanda. From Mgahinga to Volcanoes National Park is about one hour drive making it simple to travel on park to another. By having one habituated mountain gorilla family, it means that only 8 gorilla permits are available daily and must be booked in advance to avoid missing out.
A brief about Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda
Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is the only park that is home to mountain gorillas. The park has about 20 gorilla families of which 10 are for gorilla trekking while the rest are for research. From Kigali international Airport, Volcanoes National Park is about a 2-3 hours drive making it the easiest national park to access by road when compared to 9-10 hours from Entebbe to Bwindi impenetrable National park.
Having given you briefs about the three national parks where one can see mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda, its now time to consider other factors involved in planning a Uganda and Rwanda gorilla trekking combo.
Booking your gorilla permits for Uganda and Rwanda.
Before dreaming of combining Uganda and Rwanda for gorilla trekking, the first and most important thing to do is to secure your gorilla permits. A gorilla permit is one of the most expensive items that will take most of your budget. A Uganda gorilla permit costs $700 for non-residents and $600 for foreign residents with a work permit. A Rwanda gorilla permit costs $1500 per person for foreign non-residents and all this gives you one hour with mountain gorillas in the wild. In each of the National parks to be visited, a gorilla permit will entitle you to one hour with mountain gorillas, park entry fees, a certificate after your gorilla trek as well as services of a ranger guide who will be with you during your trek in the forest.
Gorilla trekking being one of the most sought-after activities in Uganda and Rwanda, we advise that you book your gorilla permits through a Local tour operator a year or so in advance. The same tour operator will assist in designing a proper itinerary taking into consideration all factors such as transport, flights, covid 19 protocol and best time to visit Uganda and Rwanda. A local tour operator will simplify all you work and leave you to prepare for your gorilla trekking experience. Encounter Africa safaris and Fixers is one of the most experienced and trusted tour operators organizing amazing Gorilla trekking safaris to Rwanda and Uganda. Feel free to send us an email and we will advise you accordingly.
Accessing both Uganda and Rwanda for gorilla trekking
While Uganda and Rwanda remain the two best nations for gorilla trekking in Africa and the entire world, you need a safari planner to advise you on how best to combine the two countries. It is true that for example, Bwindi impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga National Park, and Volcanoes National Park in Uganda and Rwanda respectively are close to each other, accessing and combining them in one organized itinerary is many tricks considering the fact that Uganda and Rwanda land borders are still closed and we are not sure when they will be opened up for people and passenger vehicles to cross from one country to another.
Crossing from Uganda to Rwanda by road, especially if one is in Bwindi impenetrable National park or Mgahinga is the easiest and simplest since it is about 1-2 hours via Chanika. Encounter Africa safaris used and still plans to continue organizing gorilla treks that combine the two great gorilla trekking nations of Uganda and Rwanda, but at the moment, one can combine the two by flying. This, therefore, means that one can fly into Uganda, do gorilla trekking and then fly from Uganda to Rwanda for gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. Initially, one would, for example, fly into Uganda, drive to Bwindi for gorilla trekking, cross by road to Rwanda and trek gorillas in Volcanoes, and then fly out through Kigali international airport, which is now not possible at the moment. Should the land borders open, we will notify you.
Best time to organize your Uganda and Rwanda gorilla trekking combo
There are two distinct seasons in Uganda and Rwanda, plus the entire East African region. This is the wet and dry season. Most people prefer organizing their gorilla treks to Uganda and Rwanda during the dry seasons of June, July, August up to Mid-September and then December, January, and February. During this time, there is less rainfall, thus gorilla trekking in both Uganda and Rwanda is easy. Most tourists tend to avoid the rainy seasons of March, April, May, November, and October, since hiking up and down in hilly tropical rain forests of Uganda and Rwanda become more challenging.
However that said and done, gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda takes place throughout the entire year, and chances of spotting mountain gorillas in each of the two countries are 98% and above since the entire experience is highly organized. The fact that many people prefer trekking gorillas during dry seasons, gorilla permits tend to sell out quickly so one must book them in advance. During wet seasons which coincide with the low season, gorilla permits are easier to get since they are easily available, some discounts on permits and lodges can be enjoyed. So if you are a person that enjoys discounts, wait for low season, contact your Tour operator to inform you about all available discounts.
Accommodation before, during and after your gorilla trek
Depending on where you will start your Uganda and Rwanda gorilla trekking combo safari, you need someone to advise you on the best way to arrange your accommodation patterns in Uganda and Rwanda. During this covid 19 era, you may need a night in Kigali for Rwanda and Entebbe town for Uganda. Then two- or three-night accommodation is planned for Bwindi impenetrable National Park/Mgahinga NP and Volcanoes National Park. Hotels and Lodges are readily available in both Uganda and Rwanda and one can choose any depending on the budget at their disposal. Contact Encounter Africa safaris for any advice about Budget, Mid-range, and High end Lodges in Uganda and Rwanda.
Covid 19 Protocol in Uganda and Rwanda
Before planning your Uganda and Rwanda gorilla safari combo, please interest yourself in COVID-19 guidelines and requirements of Uganda and Rwanda. Having done so, you will get to know if you will need a test before entering and when flying out, whether you will need to be quarantined on arrival, etc. This will assist you in deciding whether you need a hotel on arrival and after your safari, plus determining which country to start with when planning your Uganda and Rwanda gorilla trekking trip during the era of COVID-19. COVID-19 requirements and guidelines keep on changing and at this point you will need a reliable tour operator such as Encounter Africa safaris to assist and advise you accordingly.
Visa requirements for Uganda and Rwanda
You need a visa to enter Uganda and Rwanda for your gorilla trekking holiday. Both Uganda and Rwanda visas are applied and paid for online. You should endeavor to do so at least 2 weeks in advance so that you avoid the panic that comes with last-minute arrangements. You can as well apply for An East Africa visa if you plan to visit Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya. Encounter Africa safaris will assist you in following up your visa application should you encounter any challenges. We will also provide a recommendation and invitation letter since it is now a requirement for those applying for visas to Uganda and Rwanda.
Do it yourself or hire an expert
There is so much to do that will make your Uganda and Rwanda gorilla trekking trip a success. Information about what to pack, which country to visit first, the best time to visit, how to access each of the mentioned national parks, and where to stay requires an expert to assist you. Encounter Africa safaris and fixers has been around for some time, we have emersed experience in organizing spectacular gorilla trekking experiences to Africa so send us an email at email@example.com and we start the journey.