Best place to see Mountain Gorillas

Best place to see Mountain Gorillas

Which is the best place to see Mountain Gorillas? In other words, where can you see mountain gorillas in the world? Of course the first place that will run into your mind is Africa, but question is where in Africa exactly should you go gorilla trekking? Currently there are two places where you can go gorilla trekking in Africa and all those places are situated in east of Africa.

Briefly, you should know that there is a total population of 880 mountain gorillas left in the world and half of those reside in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The rest of the population lives in the southern park of Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of Congo), Volcanoes National Park / Parc National des Volcans (Rwanda) and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (Uganda) which brings is to two places. You might see about four places but Virunga, Volacanoes and Mgahinga all share the Virunga population hence, making it a one location. I am going to talk about each of these places one by one to cite out the best place you can carry out gorilla trekking from but before i talk more on that, i want to appreciate the conservation efforts that have made it possible to increase the tally of mountain gorillas from 620 individuals in 1989 to over 880 currently. Despite the various threats that these gorillas face, the numbers keep growing and with new members being birthed in respective families.

Which place is the best for seeing Gorillas?

To be honest, the best place to see mountain gorillas from is Bwindi Forest / Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. There are so many reasons why many people especially foreigners opt for Bwindi always and below are all the reasons and comparisons for each place or country.

Why Bwindi?

The first reason to this is the fact that over half the total population of the mountain gorillas in the world reside in this national park that lies south west of Uganda. In fact, Gorilla Tracking is one of the most carried out activities in Uganda, attracting thousands and thousands of tourists each and every year. And besides, Bwindi has so many accommodation facilities that range from budget lodges to top luxury lodges in all it’s various regions especially Buhoma. The gorillas in this national park will always be visible in numbers if only you visit Uganda at the best time for a safari.

Another consideration is the price of gorilla permits. A gorilla permit for Bwindi will cost you $650 during the peak months of the year (January, February, June, July, August, September, December)and $450 during the low season (April, May, October, March and November).

What i don’t like about Bwindi
The only thing i don’t like about Bwindi is it’s distance from the Airport (Entebbe International Airport). The fact that this national park is situated south west of Uganda will require you a 9 hours drive to and from implicating the first and last days are basically reserved for traveling. This is the main reason why it’s impossible to do a 1 day gorilla trek in Uganda unlike in Rwanda. A remedy to this is using chartered flights to and from which is quite expensive and besides, not every traveler will afford it. If accessing it via the Rwanda route then it should take you fewer hours to reach.

Why not Volcanoes National Park / Parc National des Volcans?

Volcanoes National Park is situated in Rwanda and borders the Virunga area. This is the only place in Rwanda where you can see Mountain Gorillas from and of course the second best place for gorilla trekking in the world. If you have read several articles on the internet then you should be wondering why i am slotting it second and not first yet other blogs do. I live in Uganda (East Africa) and i am telling you nothing but facts! I will mention the reason later on in this article but as for now, let me tell you the pros and cons of trekking gorillas in Volcanoes National Park.

What i like about Volcanoes National Park
The distance between the national park and the airport is quite short compared to the rest of the national parks. This makes it possible to do a 1 day gorilla trek in Rwanda supposing you arrive before 6:00am (EAT) in the morning. You can travel to the national park, carry out gorilla tracking and then travel back to connect for your onward flight all in one day which i don’t usually recommend except for typical budget travelers. Unlike Uganda, it’s possible to organize a gorilla trek in Rwanda for just $850 (inclusive of Permits) per person.

What i don’t like about Volcanoes National Park
Rwanda gorilla permits cost $1500 all year round which is quite high compared to Uganda and Congo. And besides, the national park has far less accommodation facilities compared to Uganda.

Why not Mgahinga Gorilla National park

Besides the distance and lodging options, the main reason why Mgahinga is less visited is the scarcity of mountain gorillas in it. These gorillas often travel in and out of the country (to Rwanda and Congo), implicating sometime you might not see any or rather see far less numbers. Years ago, Uganda Wildlife Authority made it a point to refund all tourists who fail to see gorillas on their visit to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park money for their permits. Mgahinga should be the last place on your mind if you are thinking of seeing mountain gorillas in Uganda.

Why not Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park is yet another great place to see mountain gorillas in Africa. This park borders Mgahinga Gorilla National park to the right and Volcanoes National Park to the south. The wilderness of the national park makes it a very adventurous place to carry out Gorilla tracking from.

What i don’t like about Virunga National Park
Getting a Visa for Congo isn’t easy as it seems and besides, this country is very volatile because almost all rebels groups in Africa seek refuge in their wild forests (Ituri Forest). Despite Virunga not being threatened by these rebel groups, the level of crimes; especially robbery is quite high in Congo implicating this country is a no go for any solo traveler. You ought to arrange for your safari through a tour operator who will guide you on the precautions to take if you are to be on a safe side.

My Take

If you want the best, memorable and awesome gorilla tracking adventure in Africa then you ought to book a safari to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. What you should know is most blogs will cite out Rwanda as the best place for mountain gorilla trekking because Rwanda Development Board (RDB) too a lot of time and effort to market and sell Rwanda, which isn’t the case with Uganda. Just a few years ago, one of the pioneers in the Uganda Tourism Industry, Amos Wekesa stepped up efforts to market Uganda more to the world and though he claims the results might not be seen straight away, at least some results were seen. This is the same man who organized the visit of Barrcelona FC all stars to Uganda in 2015 through his safari company, Great Lakes Safaris in an effort to put Uganda Tourism in the lime-light.

Other obstacles that have driven visitors away from Uganda is the banning of LGBT rights and the recent Kasese revolution. These are not obstacles any more and whatever you might read on top blogs is nothing but outdated information. Uganda has no threats and you shouldn’t resist visiting it for a safari. Always wanted to know the best place to see mountain gorillas from in Africa? I guess all your questions have been answered with back up reasons and you can now choose a tour operator who will help you organize the best gorilla trek in Africa.

Pius Okee writes Badass articles for Uganda Travel Blog because he is so passionate about Tourism. Catch me travelling, writing, coding or relaxing if you can. Love what i write? Buy me a beer!

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