The rare endangered Mountain gorillas in the whole world are only surviving in three countries, Uganda in bwindi impenetrable forest national park and mgahinga gorilla national park, Rwanda in volcanoes national park and democratic republic of Congo in virunga national park. Gorilla tracking is the most incredible experience for tourists as go through a jungle of deep forested areas to reach these great apes, Mountain gorilla species are the largest apes with a fully-grown silverback weighing about 400 to 500 pounds sharing 95% of human genes. While in their forested habitats, mountain gorillas usually move from one place to another searching for fresh food (leaves and shoots).
For many tourists who have visited these destinations, Rwanda, Uganda and democratic republic of Congo, comparisons have been made on which destination is the best for gorilla tracking but this depends on each tourists perspective as explained below:
The cost of a permit
A gorilla permit in Uganda is sold at 600$ during the peak season and 450$ in the low season. In Rwanda, a permit is sold at 750$, making it cheaper to buy a permit in Uganda as compared to Rwanda. A permit allows a group of 8 people to visit one gorilla family for one hour in both countries.
On the other hand, there is low demand for gorilla permits in the democratic republic of Congo which gives an opportunity to trackers there to access permits at low prices. Tourists should know that the instabilities in the DRC came to an end in 2003 when Kabila negotiated a peace deal with internal rebel groups, promising them a power-sharing interim government which l became official when Kabila signed a transitional constitution in April 2003. Tourists can therefore enjoy their trips in DRC peacefully.
There are 13 gorilla families in Uganda national parks with Bwindi impenetrable forest having 12 groups available for tourist and mgahinga national park with 1 gorilla family; this makes a total of 13 gorilla families in Uganda. In Rwanda, there are 10 habituated gorilla families distributed into hard, medium and simple, tourists here choose which group to trek of their choice.
The many gorilla families mean that there are many permits in Uganda giving an opportunity to tourists to access the permits even in the last days as compare to Rwanda. Uganda issues 13 permits compared to 10 permits issued in Rwanda.
Ease of access
The volcano national park in Rwanda is 2 hour drive from the airport of Kigali, this gives tourists an opportunity to trek on the same day of arrival favoring tourists with limited time and money especially business travelers and budget tourist. It also allows tourist to reach the park with public transport and in a short time. The travel time factor is a big bonus for Rwanda and is largely contributing to many tourists choosing to go visit gorillas in Rwanda as compared to Uganda and Congo
On the other hand, Bwindi and Mgahinga gorilla national parks in Uganda are 9-10 hours drive from the international airport of Entebbe. This long distance leads to fatigues and exhaustion by the tourists; however is consist of stopovers that help tourists to view other en-route attractions compared to Rwanda.
Rwanda offers the best clear photography because the upper slopes of volcanoes national park have open fields and stands of bamboo forest where leafy vegetation is not so thick.
On the other hand, bwindi national park is an impenetrable forest with thick vegetation much ground growth, this denies tourist clear view and photography and sightseeing making is easy in Rwanda as compared to Uganda.
Other tourist attractions
Uganda has unlimited tourist attractions that a tourist encounters before reaching Bwindi/Mgahinga for gorilla tracking as they pass via other national parks such as Lake Mburo national park and gets an opportunity to see wild life such as zebras, Uganda kobs and the climbing lions in the ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park.
On the other hand, Rwanda also has other attractions such as the genocide site but is limited in attractions due to a small size of the country and the short distance from the airport to the national park as compared to Uganda.
There are accommodation facilities in Uganda serving tourists visiting the two national parks for gorilla tracking; these include buhoma lodge, mountain gorilla lodge and the silver back lodge in bwindi gorilla national park.
On the other hand, there are good accommodation facilities in Rwanda such as the gorilla’s volcanoes hotel, gorilla safari lodge, Kigali Serena hotel, and stipp hotel Gisenyi which serve high quality services to tourists in the volcanoes national park.
Accommodation facilities in both countries offer high quality services and at affordable prices meaning that tourists in all destinations are offered good accommodation services.
Conclusively, Gorilla tracking is the most done fascinating and adventurous activity on earth done in Uganda, Rwanda and democratic republic of Congo, both countries are different and unique in their own ways and each have advantages and disadvantages compared to the other . Therefore, the choice of which destination to visit depends on the tourist individual perspective and interests. Tourists can however endeavor to visit all the destination to experiences the differences and uniqueness in each destination.