Uganda or Rwanda ?
This is a FAQ that we receive from some clients when planning their safari. Our reply depends on their personal situation and motivation. There is no absolute rule, just some guidelines we can give. Bwindi (Uganda) and Kinigi (Rwanda) are two different gorilla experiences and if you have time and the budget we strongly advise you to have them both.
Why restrict yourself to one location when organizing your lifetime experience?
Bwindi (Uganda) and Kinigi (Rwanda) are two different gorilla experiences and if you have time and the budget we strongly advise you to have them both. Why restrict yourself to one location when organizing your lifetime experience?
-The two gorilla sites have a totally different environment. The habitat in Bwindi Impenetrable NP is a dense rain forest (a UNESCO world heritage site) while in Kinigi, Parc National des Volcans (Rwanda) the habitat of the gorillas is part of the Virunga, the famous chain of volcanoes located in Congo, Rwanda and also Uganda (Mgahinga NP).
Bwindi and the forests on the slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes have been separated by a broad strip of cultivation for several hundred years. The gorilla population in Bwindi and the Virunga have not been able to travel between the two areas. Some experts tend even to separate them in two subspecies of mountain gorillas.
-Although their genetic material is identical (gorilla gorilla beringei), they differ when it comes to external characteristics and way of life. The gorillas in Rwanda live at a higher altitude and have longer fur. The shape of the nose and the facial folds are also different. When looking for food, Bwindi gorillas tend to travel longer distances per day.
-While visiting the gorillas in Bwindi you will most probably track the gorillas up and down in a series of hills. Some clients will prefer the more challenging trekking in the rain forest of Bwindi. They don't want to miss the rich experience of a rain forest. Others will prefer the less strenuous experience of the Rwanda gorillas. This doesn't mean that you don't need a good physical condition in Rwanda! It's certainly necessary for both gorilla experiences! We have seen that altitude may cause difficulties to some visitors and during dry season (June-September) gorillas tend to climb higher.
-Photographers will also notice the difficulties of taking pictures in a rain forest because there is less light than in the more open habitat of the Virunga. You will need good equipment and a high speed film of ASA 600/800 is a must in Bwindi!
- If you have a limited time or you would like to combine a short gorilla trip with another East African Safari we advise you to travel to Kigali (Rwanda). You need at least 9 hours to travel from Kampala to Bwindi while out of Kigali your gorilla trek can be organized as a day excursion. It's also cheaper!
- Fore those who are worried about security, both area are well protected and there is no need for concern about personal security. The rangers are very kind and motivated, and they will do everything possible to make it a pleasant trip.
- Rwanda is surely regaining its reputation as first gorilla destination. Beware that permits in Rwanda need also to be booked in advance!
In the past years the majority of participants of our scheduled safaris followed our advice and travelled to Rwanda to have a second gorilla experience in the Virunga mountains. They are all unanimous: have both experiences!