Which countries in Africa have mountain gorillas?
Want to know countries in Africa that have mountain gorillas? On the giant continent of Africa lies three special countries where mountain gorillas call their home. African countries of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo have the best gorilla trekking tours one can be excited to join to spend some time with the rare mountain gorillas. Have you ever dreamed of coming to Africa to trek the most endangered great apes in their natural habitats? Are you an ardent primate enthusiast but you don’t know where to go in Africa for gorilla trekking? Details below show three fascinating African countries that have mountain gorillas. Read about Booking Gorilla permits in Uganda and Rwanda
Where to see mountain gorillas in Uganda
Uganda has two mountain gorilla trekking spots and National Park all located in southwestern Uganda. These include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. While Bwindi impenetrable National Park is a stand-alone tropical rain forest, Mgahinga National Park on the other hand is part of the large and expansive Virunga ranges shared by three countries of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. You may also be interested in what to pack for gorilla trekking.
When in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one park found in one of the African countries with mountain gorillas called Uganda. Located in southwestern Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to almost half the number of mountain gorillas there is in the entire world. Because of its nature and what it holds, they declared Bwindi impenetrable National Park a World Heritage site for both montane and lowland tropical rain forest home to over 120 mammal species, 22o butterfly species, over 250 forest bird species, and resident reptiles and amphibians. All the above wildlife faced a lot of challenges but thanks to tourism and conservationists who have stepped up to protect this National Park and all animals that live in it. If you are interested in seeing primates including mountain gorillas in the wild, Bwindi impenetrable National Park will provide exceptional encounters with these great apes and other primate species such as colobus monkeys and chimpanzees (not habituated). Do you know the age limit for gorilla trekking?
Get to know gorilla trekking locations in Bwindi
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has four gorilla trekking locations/spots where one can go gorilla trekking. Unlike other gorilla trekking national parks, Bwindi has the southern part which has Nkuringo and Rushaga while the north and eastern regions have Buhoma and Ruhija regions. Each of the four mountain gorilla trekking regions has at least four habituated mountain gorilla families readily available for gorilla trekking excursions. When booking permits and accommodation, you need to mind about which region as this will determine which gorilla family and lodge to stay in. The southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is on a higher altitude compared to the north, which is slightly at a lower altitude. For more information about the different regions/locations, gorilla families, and lodges in each, feel free to contact Encounter Africa safaris.
Accessing Bwindi impenetrable National Park
While in Uganda, you can access Bwindi impenetrable by road or Air. If you have enough time and you are that person who loves to see lots of things en route, then a road trip to Bwindi impenetrable national park will be a fantastic choice for your gorilla trip to Bwindi. From Entebbe International Airport, you will be driven south-westwards, meeting and seeing so many things along the way. Among things to see will be the equator crossing where you have a chance to enjoy a photo moment standing or stretching your legs and step in the north and southern hemisphere at the same time. On the same route, look out for royal drum makers at Mpambire as well as the famous Ankole Long-horned cattle being grazed by the Hima as you approach the Mbarara district. The rolling hills in Kigezi region will also provide an amazing relief setup that is worth photographing. You will be in the hands of our able and professional driver guide who will take time to explain and provide information en route to make your journey enjoyable and colorful. The journey from Entebbe to Bwindi impenetrable National Park may take from 9-10 hours depending on the stops you make and the region you will be going to. This route applies to all gorilla trekking safari holidays starting and ending in Uganda.
The alternative and shorter route when land borders are fully open is accessing Bwindi impenetrable National Park from Kigali/Rwanda. With this, you will land in Kigali and drive 4-5 hours from the Airport, and crossover to Uganda via Chanika or Gatuna border. This allows you to visit the two countries of Uganda and Rwanda and be able to appreciate the two. If trekking in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you will use Chanika border, and if trekking in the East or northern part, Gatuna border will be used. Check our Bwindi gorilla trekking safaris from Kigali and contact us for details.
For those with a budget affording them to fly may opt to fly to Bwindi impenetrable National Park from either Kajansi Airstrip or Entebbe International Airport. Daily scheduled and charter flights are available and will see you land in either Kihihi or Kisoro Airstrip. It is a 2-hour flight from Entebbe to Kihihi/Kisoro followed by a one-hour and half road transfer to your respective lodge in Bwindi impenetrable National Park. You can check out some of our Fly-in Safaris to Bwindi here.
Where to stay while in Bwindi impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has a variety of accommodation properties for everyone. Each of the four gorilla trekking spots of Bwindi has luxury, deluxe, and budget accommodation properties for you to select from. Some of the High-end Lodges include Mountain gorilla clouds Lodge, Gorilla Heights Lodge, Mountain Gorilla Nkuringo Lodge, Four gorillas Lodge and Rushaga Safari Camp for those staying in the south. Budget Lodges in the South Include Rushaga Gorilla Haven Lodge, Bweza Camp, Nshongi Camp and so many of these. In the north, we have Gorilla Sanctuary Retreats, Buhoma Lodge, Bwindi Volcanoes Lodge, Mahogany Springs, Buhoma Havens Lodge among others. Encounter Africa safaris works closely with top lodges in and around Bwindi Impenetrable National park and we are in a position to negotiate affordable rates when contacted.
When in Mgahinga National Park
Uganda as a country with mountain gorillas in Africa has two National Park of which Mgahinga is one of them. Unlike Bwindi impenetrable National park which is a single block of tropical rain forest and solely located in Uganda, Mgahinga National Park is bamboo dominated forest and is part of the large expanse and volcanic section shared by three countries of Uganda, Rwanda, and Uganda. The Virunga ranges in Uganda include Mgahinga, Sabinyo and Muhavura. Only one habituated gorilla family called Nyakagezi call Mgahinga it’s home. This, therefore, means that only 8 gorilla permits are available or gorilla trekking daily.
While in Mgahinga National Park, you can also spend time with Golden monkeys and an addon and or visit the Batwa community. You have a choice to hike one of the dormant volcanoes such as Mgahinga, Sabinyo, or Muhavura. This can only be achieved when you have days to spend in the region.
Mgahinga National Park can be accessed by road from Entebbe and its approximately 9-10 hour’s drive or by air from Entebbe International Airport to Kisoro Airstrip. Most flights to Kisoro or the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are in the morning. Mgahinga has few Lodge options, but Encounter Africa safaris will always advise you accordingly. The only notable Luxury Lodge in the park is Gahinga Volcanoes Lodge located here.
Where to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda
The land of a thousand hills is one of the three countries that has mountain gorillas open for gorilla trekking. There is only one national park that has hundreds of mountain gorilla individuals that roam in bamboo and tropical rainforests of Volcanoes National Park.
When in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
In the northeastern part of Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is the most visited and sought-after mountain gorilla trekking park in the whole world. In Volcanoes, you will find 20 mountain gorilla families, of which 10 are for gorilla trekking while the other 10 are for research. Gorilla habituation and trekking started in Rwanda, started by Diane Fossey as a way of protecting and conserving these endangered great apes. Rwanda is the world’s successful example of gorilla conservation followed by Uganda and The Democratic Republic of Congo.
Accessing Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is the most accessible of all Gorilla parks in Africa. Volcanoes National Park is just a 2–3-hour drive from Kigali International Airport towards the North-Eastern part of the country where Volcanoes National Park is located. All roads leading to this park are tarmacked, meaning that the drive can be as comfortable as you may wish. Because of this, it’s only in Volcanoes National Park where one can do a one-day gorilla trekking excursion. It is possible to wake up very early in the morning, drive to volcanoes NP, trek gorillas and return to Kigali. Because of this, many people prefer trekking mountain gorillas in Rwanda compared to other countries in Africa. Volcanoes National Park is home to golden monkeys and if one has a day or two, he/she can engage in golden monkey trekking. Encounter Africa safaris arrange gorilla trekking safari holidays throughout the entire year. Contact us for details.
Where to stay in Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is by far the best National Park with many high-end Lodges and hotels. Many international hotel chains have established lodges in and near the park, meaning that one will be spoilt for choice if they choose to visit Volcanoes National Park for gorilla trekking. For budget travelers, budget lodges and campsites are there for you to use. Are you a luxury or budget client and want to visit Volcanoes National Park for gorilla trekking? Hit that button and contact Encounter Africa Safaris and we will provide information that will be helpful in as far as planning a gorilla safari to Rwanda so simple.
Where to see mountain gorillas in The Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo is another African country where mountain gorillas live. The only National Park in The Democratic Republic of Congo that has mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park, which is part of the three national parks in the Virunga region. Gorilla trekking activity in Virunga National Park is more than often interrupted by violence and political insecurity in the eastern part of this large country.
Reasons to choose Rwanda, Uganda or The Democratic Republic of Congo for Gorilla trekking
Having mentioned all three countries that have mountain gorillas in Africa, we are now going to give reasons why one should choose Rwanda, Uganda, or The Democratic Republic of Congo.
5 Reasons why you need to see mountain gorillas in Bwindi
Cheap and affordable gorilla permits
One of the reasons why one should choose Uganda as a destination for gorilla trekking is that it offers a slightly cheaper gorilla permit price compared to Rwanda. A gorilla permit is a card or document that allows the holder to spend one hour with mountain gorillas in Uganda’s National Parks of Bwindi impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga. A gorilla permit in Uganda currently costs $700 for Foreign Nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents, and Shs250,000 for East African citizens. During the low seasons of April, May, and November, Uganda normally offers discounted gorilla permit prices to lure tourists to come to visit the country gifted by nature. Contact Encounter Africa safaris for more information about booking Uganda gorilla permits. Just like any country in Africa, Uganda’s National Park of Bwindi Impenetrable, and Mgahinga offer 98% chances of seeing mountain gorillas on any trek. This, therefore, means that we guarantee you to see mountain gorillas at an affordable gorilla trekking permit price offered by the Uganda government through Uganda Wildlife Authority.
So many habituated gorilla families
Uganda, as a country with mountain gorillas, has the highest number of habituated mountain gorillas spread across the four trekking locations of Rushaga, Nkuringo, Ruhija and Buhoma. The first two spots are in the south of Bwindi Forest, whereas the last two are in the east and north of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Each gorilla trekking location has at least four to five habituated gorilla families, making 19 habituated gorilla families therein. Mgahinga has one habituated mountain gorilla family when added to the 19 of Bwindi makes Uganda to be one African country that has the highest number of habituated mountain gorilla families open for gorilla trekking.
Book a gorilla habituation experience trip and spend more time
It’s only in Uganda and in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park that one can spend four hours with mountain gorillas under habituation. Gorilla habituation experience is for those who want to spend more time with mountain gorillas but have less time. Uganda Wildlife Authority has 4 gorilla habituation experience permits available on a daily for people to enjoy this experience. They limit the number of visitors per gorilla habituation group to 4 instead of 8 because these mountain gorillas as still under habituation and don’t entertain many numbers. A gorilla habituation experience permit costs $1500 for foreign non-residents, $1000 for foreign residents with working permits in East Africa, and Shs700,000 for East African citizens. This fee included spending four hours with mountain gorillas, park entry fees, services of ranger guides and experts in gorilla habituation, security while in the forest, as well as a certificate that will be awarded to you after this experience. Currently, two gorilla habituation families are available for booking in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and Encounter Africa safaris will gladly book you a gorilla habituation experience safari as long as you contact us.
The one reason why you should choose Uganda and gorilla habituation is that, when you compare the price of gorilla habituation permit and normal one-hour gorilla permit plus hours spent, you realize that it is much profitable and sensible to go for gorilla habituation if your interest is to spend less and get more hours with mountain gorillas. For example, if one wants to spend four hours using the normal gorilla permit which costs $700, he or she will need $2800 ($700×4) and four days to achieve this. If on the other hand, it only costs $1500 to get fours in one day when you choose to buy a gorilla habituation permit.
You will save $1300 off gorilla permit costs ($2800-1500=1300) and also save on the other services such as accommodation, meals, and transport since you will have a few days and nights on your safari.
If you are one person who prefers spending more time with mountain gorillas, then Uganda and Bwindi impenetrable National Park, in particular, is for you.
Affordable gorilla trekking safaris
The reason one should choose Uganda over other countries that have mountain gorillas in Africa is that Uganda, on average, is an affordable yet safe destination for gorilla trekking. The Democratic Republic of Congo is the cheapest when it comes to the price of a gorilla permit, but it is highly insecure. It’s only in Uganda where one can book a 3 Day budget gorilla trekking tour at around $1500 inclusive of a gorilla permit, all meals, transport to and from Bwindi, services of an English-speaking guide. $1500 can only get you a Rwanda gorilla permit, which costs $1500. We could also look at how much you save by choosing Uganda over Rwanda if you look at how much you save on a gorilla permit. $1500-$700=$800. If you are a person looking for an affordable yet safe gorilla trekking location, Uganda is the best for you, and Encounter Africa safaris will make it happen.
98% guaranteed gorilla sighting
Uganda offers a 98% chance of seeing mountain gorillas on any given gorilla trek. This is because all gorilla trekking families a fully habituated and used to the presence of human beings. Besides, the whole experience is highly organized to make sure you see mountain gorillas in either Bwindi impenetrable or Mgahinga National Park. An advance team of trackers normally wakes up to look for these mountain gorillas and keep following them the whole day. This is the same group that will direct you and your guide until you find these mountain gorillas.
Disadvantages of Choosing Uganda for gorilla trekking
There are some disadvantages that have been cited by those that have trekked mountain gorillas in Uganda and are worth mentioning. The distance from Entebbe Airport which is the main entry point is long and it takes 9-11 hours to drive from Entebbe to Bwindi or Mgahinga. However, this can be solved by taking a scheduled 2-hour flight to Kihihi or Kisoro Airstrip. Also, when land borders are opened, it’s shorter to fly into Kigali and drive 4-5 hours to Bwindi impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga.
Most roads in districts and villages closer to Bwindi impenetrable National Park are rough and can get tough to drive in especially during the rainy season. You need a strong 4×4 off-road safari vehicle to maneuver and make it to the park headquarters. The government is trying to maintain these roads over time and plans to tarmac them are underway. Encounter Africa safaris operates a fleet of 4×4 Off-road vehicles driven by expert driver guides and comfortable on these roads. Book with confidence by contacting Encounter Africa Safaris.
Why you should choose Rwanda for gorilla trekking
Rwanda is by any standards the world’s most sought-after gorilla trekking destination in Africa and the universe. The rest of the African countries that have mountain gorillas can not match the standards of gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. The experience itself (how it is organized from beginning to end) is overwhelming. Volcanoes National Park is the most accessible National Park compared to Bwindi, Mgahinga, or Virunga National Park. All roads from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park are tarmacked and one needs 2-3 hours to drive from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park. Rwanda has some of the best National Park lodges in Africa. The country has set high standards in terms of roads, accommodation, and transport. If you book a gorilla trekking trip to Volcanoes National Park, you will appreciate what we are talking about.
Disadvantages of trekking mountain gorillas in Rwanda
Rwanda is the most expensive gorilla trekking destination. We can see this from the price of gorilla permits at $1500 compared to Uganda’s $700 and Congo’s $400. Rwanda Lodges range from $500 to over $1500 per person, making it a highly expensive and luxury destination. That notwithstanding, there are services and facilities for budget travelers to enjoy gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park as long as you can afford to pay $1500 for a gorilla permit.
Why choose The Democratic Republic of Congo for gorilla trekking
The Democratic Republic of Congo is by far the cheapest gorilla trekking Nation in Africa. A gorilla permit to see mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park is $400 per person for one hour. By choosing Virunga National Park you stand to save $300 and $1100 if you avoid Uganda and Rwanda, respectively.
The disadvantages of trekking mountain gorillas in The Democratic Republic of Congo, however, outweigh the advantages. This large central African country is politically unstable and rebels resident in these forests have killed many tourists in Virunga National Park and the eastern part of this country. This makes gorilla trekking insecure. The roads can get muddy and there are very few Lodge options to choose from. Getting a visa for this country is difficult and we don’t recommend choosing Virunga National Park for gorilla trekking.