Nanan Travel Blog - Where are the best places to see gorillas in Africa? Uganda and Rwanda (2023)

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Ever dream of seeing gorillas up close? Get to know the African national parks where you can get close to them and observe them in their natural habitat.

Nanan Travel Blog - Where are the best places to see gorillas in Africa? Uganda and Rwanda (1)

One of the most iconic attractions of Africa is the gorilla trekking experience . Seeing them is without a doubt, a great privilege. Being an endangered species they have managed to survive thanks to the help of tourism and the amazing conservation work carried out in the national parks.

Currently there is a population of just over 1000 mountain gorillas. Considering that in 1981 there were only around 251 left in the world, we can see that the conservation work is paying off.

The two countries we highly recommend to see gorillas areUganda and Rwanda. Both countries have national parks for mountain gorilla studies and tourism. To get to a gorilla family you will have to go on a guided hike. The duration of the hike will depend on the proximity of the Gorilla family you are visiting .You will need to follow a set of basic rules and recommendations given to you by the ranger when observing the gorillas. This is to ensure that they are not unnecessarily disturbed and your safety is maintained.

Where to see The Gorillas in Africa?

Nanan Travel Blog - Where are the best places to see gorillas in Africa? Uganda and Rwanda (2)

Uganda

(Video) Gorilla trekking in Rwanda: epic & moving adventure!

In Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, you will find 13 gorilla families accustomed to human visitation.

Here the walk is somewhat harder than in Rwanda, since the vegetation is thicker, but half the world’s population of mountain gorillas live here. This park was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

Nanan Travel Blog - Where are the best places to see gorillas in Africa? Uganda and Rwanda (3)

Uganda has many other activities to offer besides the gorilla experience. We can arrange safaris, excursions to see the Chimpanzees or visit the Murchison Falls in the north of the country which is where the Nile River begins. Here you will find incredible wildlife and vegetation.

Nanan Travel Blog - Where are the best places to see gorillas in Africa? Uganda and Rwanda (4)

Nanan Travel Blog - Where are the best places to see gorillas in Africa? Uganda and Rwanda (5)

Uganda has many other activities to offer besides the gorilla experience. We can arrange safaris, excursions to see the Chimpanzees or visit the Murchison Falls in the north of the country which is where the Nile River begins. Here you will find incredible wildlife and vegetation.

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Nanan Travel Blog - Where are the best places to see gorillas in Africa? Uganda and Rwanda (7)

Rwanda

(Video) Watching Gorillas in Africa | Dhruv Rathee in the Rwandan Jungle

In the Volcanoes National Park Rwanda you will find 10 different families of mountain gorillas, accustomed to human visitation. The largest silverback in the world lives in this park.

Permits to see gorillas in Rwanda are more expensive than in Uganda. In Rwanda the cost per person per permit per day is USD 1,500 and in Uganda the cost is USD 700. The hikes in Rwanda are less steep, less dense and shorter than in Uganda. Also , as the vegetation is less dense you get better lighting for photography.

Nanan Travel Blog - Where are the best places to see gorillas in Africa? Uganda and Rwanda (8)

We can also arrange other activities , such as an excursion to see the Golden Monkeys or a visit to the Dian Fossey Foundation and her grave.

Nanan Travel Blog - Where are the best places to see gorillas in Africa? Uganda and Rwanda (9)

Instructions to see the gorillas

Nanan Travel Blog - Where are the best places to see gorillas in Africa? Uganda and Rwanda (10)

The Gorilla visits in the national parks are done only once a day. The walks can last for a few hours, but once the Gorilla family is found, you can only spend 1 hour with them. At the briefing session at each of the national parks the rangers will give you the necessary instructions. What to expect before you start:

  • You will be divided into groups of 8 or less and a gorilla family will be assigned to your group. You will then embark on a guided hike in search of your assigned gorilla family.
  • It can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple of hours to find the Gorilla family assigned to your group. It is important to have a little patience to be able to enjoy this magical journey.
  • Once the gorilla family is found , you will have a maximum of 1 hour to be with them. Some basic rules, such as: keeping a safe distance, not yelling, not running, not imitating their movements, not using flash photography and of course not feeding them are required.
  • The guides at each national park will give you more details and recommendations on how to act in different cases, during the expedition.
  • Some recommendations for photography. Taking pictures of gorillas may not be such an easy task, due to distance and lighting. We recommend you take good photographic equipment, such as a digital SLR camera that has a high ISO and a 24-70mm lens, a 70-200mm lens or a 200-400mm lens.
  • Do not forget the spare chargers and batteries, as it can be a long time before you find the gorillas.
  • If you have a GoPro or similar make sure you have batteries to film the whole hour you are with the Gorillas, specially if you can mount the camera on your hat or your chest that way you can also take pictures with your camera, you will definitely capture some amazing moments.

Important information before your trip

Nanan Travel Blog - Where are the best places to see gorillas in Africa? Uganda and Rwanda (11)

  • To visit Rwanda and Uganda, you must get a Visa. You can process the East AfricanVisa online. The yellow fever vaccine is a requirement for the visa. It is also recommended to take Malaria pills.
  • A very important note: If you have a cold or have any flu symptoms or something similar, you will not be able to visit the gorillas. This is to avoid putting the gorillas’ health at risk.
  • What is the best season to visit mountain gorillas? You can visit them throughout the year, but consider that the rainy months (March to May and October to November) make the walk through the forest a little more difficult. And if you prefer a season with fewer visitors, you can take advantage of the months of February and September.
  • It is important to note that to visit these parks, whether in Rwanda or Uganda, it is necessary to obtain a special permit, which you must do a minimum of 6 months in advance, as there are a limited number available for each day.
  • For accommodation, Rwanda has the best luxury hotels, such as Bisate lodge or Gorilla’s nest by The One & Only or Kwitonda Lodge by Singita, these are however more expensive than the Uganda options. In Uganda we can recommend, Buhoma Lodge, Volcanoes Bwindi lodge or Gorilla Forest camp.
  • What to wear for the hike? We suggest wearing suitable clothing for a hike. The hikes are in a rainforest and long sleeves and long pants are a necessity . You should also have enough water and snacks with you on the hike. In general though the safari vehicles that do the transfers carry these in abundance. Check with your lodge before you leave.
  • Make sure you bring good cameras and video equipment, since once you find the gorilla family, it would be a disaster to run out of battery or not be able to take the perfect photo!

    (Video) Mountain Gorilla Trekking Uganda 2021 | Complete Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi 🦍TRAVEL VLOG 4K

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    FAQs

    Is it better to see gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda? ›

    Rwanda and Uganda are the best countries for mountain gorilla trekking, both with great safari options. Rwanda limits permits to Volcanoes National Park for a conservation focused experience. Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest has four habituated gorilla troops but can be a harder trekking option.

    Where is the best place to see gorillas? ›

    The best places in the world to see gorillas are Rwanda, Uganda, DRC and Republic of Congo.
    ...
    4. Republic of Congo
    • When to visit: It's best to go during the dry seasons, from June to September or December to February. ...
    • What you need to know: This is an amazing adventure for seasoned African travelers.
    19 Apr 2018

    Where can you see gorillas in Rwanda? ›

    Where to see gorillas in Rwanda
    • Gorilla Mountain View Lodge. Volcanoes National Park. Simple.
    • Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. Volcanoes National Park. Deluxe.
    • Virunga Lodge. Volcanoes National Park. First Class.

    Is Rwanda better than Uganda? ›

    If you want to do more than just gorilla trekking on your holiday, Uganda is a better option than Rwanda. Unlike Rwanda, Uganda offers big game safaris on open savanna as well as a much wider array of experiences and a bigger variety of landscapes to explore than its more compact neighbour.

    How much does it cost to see gorillas in Uganda? ›

    The cost of gorilla trekking in Uganda can vary from one tour operator to the next. A 3-day Gorilla Safari in Uganda will run from about $1300 (economy) to $3900 (luxury) per person. A 10-day Gorilla Safari in Uganda will run from$4800 (economy) to $6400 (luxury) per person.

    Is Uganda or Rwanda better for gorilla trekking? ›

    Rwanda has more than twice the number of habituated mountain gorilla groups than Uganda, so gorilla trekking permits are typically easier to obtain. In Uganda, the mountain gorillas reside in both the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park.

    Where can you see gorillas in Uganda? ›

    There are two gorilla trekking spots in Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Gorillas don't pay mind to political borders, so populations across the Virungas are relatively fluid.

    When can you see gorillas in Uganda? ›

    Mountain Gorillas: Best time to track the gorillas is the dry season; from December to March and June to October. Shoebill Stork: Found in the Mabamba swamps, one of the most sought-after birds in Africa.

    When can you see gorillas in Rwanda? ›

    The best time to visit Rwanda is during the dry season of June to September. This is also the best time of year to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda as these periods offer the best hiking conditions and the lowest risk of malaria.

    How much does it cost to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda? ›

    Rwanda offers the most expensive gorilla trekking permit which costs $1500 USD 1,500 (€1,232 or £1,062) per person per day. This is nearly three times as much as other countries charge for foreign visitors, such as Democratic Republic of Congo ($200) or Uganda ($600).

    How far are gorillas from Kigali? ›

    Visit Rwanda's famous Mountain Gorillas located 2.5 hours outside of Kigali. It is estimated that there are less than 900 Mountain Gorillas left in the world, making them critically endangered.

    How long is gorilla trekking in Rwanda? ›

    The trek normally lasts between 2 and 5 hours depending on the location of the gorilla family and a maximum of eight visitors is allowed per gorilla family. Once you reach the gorillas you are permitted to stay for one hour to view them. The minimum age for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is 15 years.

    How hard is gorilla trekking in Rwanda? ›

    The trek is fairly challenging and you may find it tough as you pass through the dense undergrowth. The high altitude and the steep, slippery trails can make the trek exhausting, but it's definitely worth the effort to spend time with mountain gorillas in the wild.

    Is Uganda richer than Rwanda? ›

    Uganda with a GDP of $27.5B ranked the 104th largest economy in the world, while Rwanda ranked 145th with $9.5B.
    ...
    Gross Domestic Product & Income.
    StatRwandaUganda
    Population12.2M42.9M
    GDP per capita$773$643
    GDP per capita growth5.77%2.27%
    10 more rows

    How safe is Uganda? ›

    U.S. citizens should remain alert and avoid large public gatherings. Violent crime, such as armed robbery, home invasion, and sexual assault, can occur at any time, especially in larger cities including Kampala and Entebbe. Local police may lack appropriate resources to respond effectively to serious crime.

    How is Uganda and Rwanda similar in terms of location? ›

    Uganda and Rwanda are African countries. These two neighboring countries are actually interlocked countries in East Africa, which are similar in many ways. There has always been tension between Uganda and Rwanda and it still continues. Uganda and Rwanda were both colonies.

    Is gorilla trekking in Uganda worth it? ›

    There is little difference between the two: the terrain and the gorillas are ultimately the same. Therefore, we would highly recommend doing the trek in Uganda, given the multitude of other amazing things that there are to do in this country. The habituated Gorillas are shy and docile, despite their strength.

    Is gorilla trekking worth the money? ›

    In Conclusion; Gorilla trekking is such an awesome activity to do and a memorable experience that any tourist in Africa can have. The one hour that you get to spend in the midst of the gorillas is totally amazing and makes the entire experience of gorilla trekking worth very penny!

    What is the best time of year to visit Uganda? ›

    The best time to visit Uganda is during its two dry seasons: between December and February, and between June and August, when conditions are particularly good for trekking to see mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. Game spotting in national parks is also good at this time, as well as between February and March.

    What is the best time to visit Rwanda? ›

    The best time to visit Rwanda is during the drier period from June to September, when you've got a greater chance of spotting the country's undoubted highlight: the mountain gorilla.

    How many days do you need for gorilla trekking? ›

    A gorilla trekking safari takes a minimum of 3 days, with day 1 transfer to Bwindi National Park and day 2 Gorilla tracking and day 3 for transfer back to Entebbe/ Kigali from Bwindi.

    How much is a gorilla permit in Rwanda? ›

    How Much To Pay? A gorilla permit also includes the entry into the national park, the ranger guides who will accompany you, the one hour adventure with the gorillas, taxes as well as the Gorilla trekking certificate. Rwanda's gorilla trekking permit goes for $1500 throughout the whole year.

    Is it safe to visit gorillas in Uganda? ›

    Gorilla trekking in Uganda is very safe given the fact it is one of the major tourist activity in the country it is given a lot of attention, well organized and with enough security to make sure all tourists visiting the mountain gorillas are safe all through their trek.

    How much does it cost to see gorillas in Africa? ›

    The Gorilla Habituation Experience permit / pass costs $1,500 for foreign nonresidents, $1,000 for foreign residents in East Africa and 750,000 UGX for East African Citizens.

    How much does it cost to see gorillas? ›

    The cheapest three-day gorilla trek will cost around $1,200 per person and will include one gorilla tracking permit, private transport, an English-speaking guide, accommodation and meals. A three-day luxury gorilla safari may cost upwards of $3,000 per person.

    How do I see a gorilla on a budget? ›

    Uganda and Congo provide the most affordable gorilla trekking in Africa, a gorilla permits in Uganda costs $600 and $400 in Congo with Rwanda offering the most expensive permits at $1500. Congo also offers discounted gorilla permits in the low moths at only $200.

    How do I prepare for gorilla trekking in Uganda? ›

    How to prepare for Gorilla Trekking in Africa
    1. Relax: Empty yourself of Expectations. ...
    2. Focus on things that are in your power. ...
    3. Do Some Physical Exercise. ...
    4. Pack Your Safari Items Early Enough. ...
    5. Carry Your Own Water Bottle.
    1 Jan 2021

    What is Rwanda best known for? ›

    Known as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda's stunning scenery and warm, friendly people offer unique experiences in one of the most remarkable countries in the world. It is blessed with extraordinary biodiversity, with incredible wildlife living throughout its volcanoes, montane rainforest and sweeping plains.

    How do I book a gorilla trekking in Rwanda? ›

    Travelers can check for Rwanda gorilla trekking permits availability by contacting the Rwanda Development Board (the body that regulates the parks and tourism sites of Rwanda) directly. Alternatively, travelers can check for gorilla permit availability and also book them through trusted tour operators.

    How cold does it get in Rwanda? ›

    Average daytime temperatures in Rwanda are about 75 degrees Fahrenheit while nighttime temperatures can drop in to the low 50s. Rwanda has a temperate tropical highland climate, with lower temperatures than are typical for equatorial countries due to its high elevation.

    How much does a Uganda safari cost? ›

    Most destinations in Uganda will cost about $150 per day. A luxury safari to Uganda costs from $ 500 per day or more. A budget safari costs $ less than $ 100 per day.

    Is Uganda good for safari? ›

    Uganda outshines all other safari destinations in these two areas, but, in addition, it remains a superb destination for traditional safari by vehicle or by boat, thanks to its lush habitats and variety of species. For those in search of something fresh and vibrant, Uganda is the perfect choice.

    Which safari is best in Africa? ›

    Best safaris in Africa
    1. Okavango Delta, Botswana. ...
    2. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. ...
    3. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. ...
    4. Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. ...
    5. Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. ...
    6. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. ...
    7. Nyerere National Park (formerly Selous Game Reserve), Tanzania. ...
    8. Kruger National Park, South Africa.
    12 Jul 2022

    How many mountain gorillas are in Rwanda? ›

    There are twelve gorilla families living in the Volcanoes National Park, which are fully habituated, with a few others habituated solely for scientific research.

    What zoo has the most gorillas? ›

    Zoo Atlanta is currently home to one of the largest populations of gorillas in North America.

    Is Uganda or Rwanda better for gorilla trekking? ›

    Rwanda has more than twice the number of habituated mountain gorilla groups than Uganda, so gorilla trekking permits are typically easier to obtain. In Uganda, the mountain gorillas reside in both the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park.

    Is Gorilla trekking worth the money? ›

    In Conclusion; Gorilla trekking is such an awesome activity to do and a memorable experience that any tourist in Africa can have. The one hour that you get to spend in the midst of the gorillas is totally amazing and makes the entire experience of gorilla trekking worth very penny!

    Is it safe to visit gorillas in Uganda? ›

    Gorilla trekking in Uganda is very safe given the fact it is one of the major tourist activity in the country it is given a lot of attention, well organized and with enough security to make sure all tourists visiting the mountain gorillas are safe all through their trek.

    How difficult is gorilla trekking in Rwanda? ›

    Gorilla trekking involves hiking through difficult terrain, thick vegetation, water bodies, hills and valleys. The activity can be very challenging and strenuous leaving one exhausted and with sore knee especially if they are not used to walking for long hours.

    How much does it cost to see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda? ›

    It's possible to do a one-day gorilla trek in Rwanda from around $1,700 per person. A two-day gorilla tour will start from £1,900. A three-day luxury gorilla safari may cost $2,000 to $5,000 per person. Tours include one gorilla tracking permit, private transport, English-speaking guide, accommodation and meals.

    What is the best time to visit Rwanda? ›

    The best time to visit Rwanda is during the drier period from June to September, when you've got a greater chance of spotting the country's undoubted highlight: the mountain gorilla.

    How many days do you need for gorilla trekking? ›

    A gorilla trekking safari takes a minimum of 3 days, with day 1 transfer to Bwindi National Park and day 2 Gorilla tracking and day 3 for transfer back to Entebbe/ Kigali from Bwindi.

    What do you tip a gorilla trek? ›

    For Gorilla-Trekking Guides:

    A recommended tip is $25 per day of trekking per traveller. This may be given to the guide in view of the trackers once out of the park such that he can distribute amongst the trackers and himself.

    When can you see gorillas in Rwanda? ›

    The best time to visit Rwanda is during the dry season of June to September. This is also the best time of year to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda as these periods offer the best hiking conditions and the lowest risk of malaria.

    Is gorilla trekking hard in Uganda? ›

    Gorilla trekking is relatively difficult depending on one's fitness levels. gorilla trekking in Uganda is also relatively hard as it involves walking through thick forest, valleys, hills, and swamps, Gorilla trekking can be challenging for one physical unfit leading to exhaustion.

    Are Rwanda and Uganda Safe? ›

    Border safety

    The Rwandan government has now opened its border with Uganda and advised its residents not to visit there for the past two years, escalating a political disagreement between the two countries. Before attempting to cross, travelers should verify with government officials.

    When can you see gorillas in Uganda? ›

    Mountain Gorillas: Best time to track the gorillas is the dry season; from December to March and June to October. Shoebill Stork: Found in the Mabamba swamps, one of the most sought-after birds in Africa.

    Where can you see gorillas in Uganda? ›

    There are two gorilla trekking spots in Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Gorillas don't pay mind to political borders, so populations across the Virungas are relatively fluid.

    How easy is it to see gorillas in Rwanda? ›

    They are constantly monitored and protected by park rangers, with each group coming into contact with tourists for a strict maximum of one hour per day. Eight tracking permits are issued per troop per day, meaning the encounter is as intimate and as unobtrusive as possible.

    How much does it cost to trek gorillas in Rwanda? ›

    Cost of a gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda

    Rwanda offers the most expensive gorilla trekking permit which costs $1500 USD 1,500 (€1,232 or £1,062) per person per day. This is nearly three times as much as other countries charge for foreign visitors, such as Democratic Republic of Congo ($200) or Uganda ($600).

    How do I prepare for gorilla trekking in Uganda? ›

    Most travelers plan their gorilla trips about 6 months before the safari begins. That is the perfect time to get you physically fit for your Uganda gorilla tour. Some of the recommended physical exercises include walking, jogging, hiking, sit-ups, stair masters, and downhill lunges and others.

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