Which is the closest airport to fly to see gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda
Gorilla trekking is an activity that is carried out in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks are where the trekking is carried out in Uganda and Rwanda. It is in the Volcanoes National Park. Getting to Volcanoes, Bwindi, and Mgahinga is done in two ways: driving to the National Parks or flying.
Whereas driving is more scenic, flying is more comfortable and fast, although expensive. There are several airports and airstrips to ensure you fly to your destination safe and sound, and these are just a few kilometers away from the National parks. It would be best if you planned effectively by booking early, and any information about the cost of the tickets can be obtained from your tour operator, Skyscanner, and Expedia.
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Airports close to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda in Kisoro town, a few kilometers away from Mgahinga National Park. Kisoro is a tourist hub just a few minutes from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda border.
Kisoro Airstrip: Kisoro Airstrip is located in Kisoro Airstrip and is best for trekkers traveling to the southern part of Bwindi for gorilla trekking. The airport is strategically located and known to be the best if you are also traveling to Mgahinga. It services the Rushaga, Ruhija, and Nkuringo sectors in southern Bwindi. Flights from Entebbe to Kisoro Airstrip depart at 7:00 a.m., arrive at Kisoro at 8:15 a.m., and then depart for Entebbe at 8:15 a.m., arriving at Entebbe at 11:25 a.m.
Kihihi Airstrip: Kihihi Airstrip is the smallest in Uganda, mainly used to travel to the southwest part of the country by tourists getting to Mgahinga National Park and Bwindi. Although it is the smallest, it still ranks as 3rd largest Airstrip in the country, and its code is KHX. Located in the Kanungu district, the town was named after the Kihihi town and was found to have easy access to the Ruhija section in the eastern part of Bwindi. There are three scheduled flights from Entebbe to Kihihi Airstrip, with the first one leaving Entebbe at 7:00 a.m. and arriving at Kihihi at 8:00 a.m., 10:15 a.m. to 1:25 a.m., and 15:00 p.m. to 2:45 pm per day.
Aero Link Uganda operates daily flights to Bwindi from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to either Kihihi Airstrip or Kisoro Airstrip, which are closest to Bwindi National Park. If you plan on flying to Bwindi, we are here to help you with the process by booking early for as long as you pay on time and also plan your gorilla trekking safari.
Activities carried out in Bwindi National Park
Other activities are carried out in Bwindi apart from gorilla trekking, and these include the following:
Cultural visits and the Batwa trail: This is one of the activities that you should engage in while in Bwindi as it will help you understand more about the Batwa culture, learn how they used to hunt, explore the caves where they used to hide food and water and strategize and engage in other cultural activities. Note that Twa guides lead the Batwa trail.
Bird watching: Bwindi has over 350 recorded bird species, with 23 endemic to the Albertine region, with 14 only found here. Some bird species found in Bwindi include the Blue-headed sunbird, Green Broadbill, Rwenzori nightjar, and Short-tailed warbler. Birding in Bwindi can be done all year round, but the best time is during the wet season.
Gorilla habituation: This is the second most participated activity after gorilla trekking. Habituation is when the gorillas are trained to adapt fairly to the presence of humans, and it takes about 2 to 3 years. Unlike normal gorilla trekking, tourists get to spend 4 hours instead of only 4 people used to trekking with a gorilla family. Gorilla habituation is only carried out in the Rushaga sector, and there are currently only 2 families that are open for habituation.
Mount biking: Mountain biking is one of the activities carried out in the Buhoma sector in Bwindi, and this is one of the best trails you can use for mountain biking in the country. The bikes are provided by a woman community group that rents them to support their families.
Airports close to Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National Park is one of the smallest national parks in Uganda, located in the southwestern part of the country and best known for being one of the best gorilla trekking destinations. It is located at the border of Congo and Rwanda in the Virunga region in the district of Kisoro. Mgahinga is a frequent tourist destination and can easily be accessed by daily scheduled charter flights. Domestic flights can be planned with Aero Link Uganda, but this needs to be done a few weeks or days earlier for proper planning.
Aero Link Uganda charters daily flights to Mgahinga from Kajjansi Airstrip or Entebbe International Airport. The flights take you to Kisoro Airstrip, where you will connect to the national park by road. Aero Link has one scheduled flight to Mgahinga carried out in the morning hours (7:00 a.m.), and this is because of the weather conditions that are experienced in the region. Departure from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip is at 7:00 a.m., and arrival at the Kisoro Airstrip is around 8:10 a.m. The flight from Kisoro, on the other hand, departs at 8:30 a.m. and arrives at Entebbe at around 11:30 a.m.
Booking flights to Mgahinga
Mgahinga domestic flights can be booked through a trusted tour operator and in advance. Details about the travel will be needed to ensure that the flights are available on the day you plan to visit Mgahinga. After confirmation that the travel dates match the flight dates, the booking will be made after payment. After getting to Kisoro Airstrip from Entebbe or Kajjansi, our driver guide will pick you up from the Airstrip and transfer you to the lodge. You should book through a tour operator because it is less tiresome, and your safari will be fully taken care of, including permit booking, transportation, and accommodation.
Activities carried out in Mgahinga National Park
Besides gorilla trekking, there are other activities that tourists can engage in while in Mgahinga, and these include:
Bird watching: Mgahinga has over 180 recorded bird species, including migratory birds and 15 Albertine endemic birds, making it a top birding destination. Some bird species found in Mgahinga include the Rwenzori nightjar, Cape robin chat, dusky crimsonwing, Ruwenzori Turaco, African paradise flycatcher, and the Black kite.
Enjoy the Batwa trail: The Batwa trail is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn more about the culture of the Batwa people, also known as the pygmies. They used to live within the national park before they settled outside the park to conserve the forests. The trail, led by Twa guides, will teach you the different medicinal herbs used, how to hunt, explore the Ngarama caves, and many more.
Golden monkey trekking: This is the second most participated activity in Mgahinga after gorilla trekking. It will take about 40 to 50 minutes to get to the monkeys since they move from one place to another in search of bamboo shoots.
Airports close to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is carried out in the Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda. Rwanda has over 400 gorillas waiting to be trekked, and the best way to do this is to book a gorilla permit in advance.
The Kigali International Airport is the closest for flying to see Mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Considering the road conditions and traffic, Volcanoes National Park is about a 2 to 3-hour drive from Kigali. When you get to Kigali, transport can easily be arranged, and if you have booked through an agent, a safari vehicle will be waiting with a driver guide to take you to your final destination.
Activities in the Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park was one of Africa’s first designated parks in 1925 and is best known as the perfect destination for gorilla trekking with over 400 Mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking is Rwanda’s most popular activity; however, there are other activities carried out in Volcanoes National Park, and these include:
Volcano hiking: There are two options for Mountain climbing in Volcanoes, and these are Mount Karisimbi, the 2nd highest Virunga region, and Mount Bisoke, which rises to a height of 37,000 meters. The top of the Mountain gives you great views of the surrounding areas, and you will also be able to see various wildlife along the way, including birds and other primates.
Golden monkey trekking: Golden monkeys are endangered species protected to avoid extinction and can be trekked in Volcanoes National Park. Gorilla and golden monkey trekking can be carried out on a different day, but it is worth the trip with two habituated groups, each having 80 members.
Budget flights to Uganda and Rwanda for gorilla trekking
The busiest months for gorilla trekking are from July to September, and you will find that cheap flights are hard to come by since many tourists flock to the country to enjoy gorilla trekking and the warm weather during this period. The peak season, which starts in June to September, comes with an increase in the cost of accommodation and flight tickets, and this is why you need to pay in advance to get everything at a fair price. You must also book your gorilla permit in advance since they are always in high demand.
The low season is experienced in the rain/wet months from March to May and October to November. If you are planning on gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda and are traveling on a budget, this is the best time to travel because the costs of accommodation and flight tickets are extremely low. The only cost that stays the same is the gorilla trekking permit, which goes for $800 per person in Uganda and $1500 per person in Rwanda.
Visit Uganda and Rwanda for gorilla trekking.
Gorilla trekking is best done from June to September and December to February during the dry season. The dry season receives mild rainfall, but the trek routes during this period are more accessible, making it easy to trek the gorillas, and the vegetation is thin, making it easy to spot the primates. On the other hand, the months of March to May and October to December are considered the best if you are traveling on a budget and are okay with a bit of rainfall. The vegetation during the wet season is fully grown, and the trek routes are muddy and slippery, making hiking difficult.
Where to stay for gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda
Accommodation facilities are categorized into three categories: budget-friendly, mid-range, and luxury accommodation facilities. Some of the facilities that you should look out for in Rwanda include Kinigi Hotel, Virunga Hotel, Home Inn, Hotel Mabura, La Palme Hotel, Gorilla solution lodge, and Faraji Hotel for budget-friendly prices, Davinci Lodge, Mountain Gorilla view lodge and Lebambou Gorilla lodge for mid-range and Virunga Volcanoes lodge, Mountain Gorillas’ nest lodge, Sabinyo Silverback lodge, Five volcanoes hotel and Bisate lodge for luxury accommodation.
Accommodation for gorilla trekking in Uganda includes Buhoma Lodge, Nkuringo Lodge, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Engagi Lodge, Mutanda Lodge, Nshongi Camp, Gorilla safari lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Camp, Trekkers Tavern cottages and Sanctuary Gorilla Forest camp among others.
Contact us for more information about booking charter flights to see the mountain gorillas.