Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi vs Virunga National Park. Are you planning and interested in going for gorilla trekking and you are finding it hard to choose where to go between Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Virunga National Park in Congo, here below is the comparison based on our expertise to help you choose and decide where to go for gorilla trekking experience. The whole truth is that both parks have mountain gorillas and there is no big difference when it comes to the experience obtained at the end of your trek. However, there are many things you can base on to compare Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi vs Virunga National Park in Congo for you to choose where to book and go for your gorilla trekking and these include the following;
In terms of accessibility, Both Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Virunga National Park in Congo can be accessed through Kigali which is the easier and short accessible route for both parks. This is indeed very true and no one can run away from it. People used to avoid gorilla trekking in Bwindi because of the 9-10 hours drive from Entebbe International Airport to Bwindi but now we arrange tours to Bwindi via Kigali which then becomes 4-5 hours drive only. With this, you land in Kigali, use the East African Tourist Visa (which allows you to visit both countries at ago) and then trek gorillas in Bwindi. However you will need to cross borders to access both parks.
In terms of Lodges, Both National Parks have Budget, Mid Range and Upmarket Lodges where you could choose to stay during your trek. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the best place for gorilla trekking for those interested in staying in super luxury lodges on international standards compared to Bwindi. These lodges offer great and luxury services some are ranked among the best in Africa and the country at large for example Gorilla Sanctuary Forest Camp and Buhoma Lodge. Virunga National Park has few lodge options where to stay compared to Bwindi
In terms of Vegetation and trekking experience, Virunga National Park mountain gorillas in Congo are in the Virunga/hills with mainly bamboo as the main vegetation while in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, these mountain gorillas are in a tropical rain forest with varieties of trees and plants.
In terms of Gorilla families, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park has more gorilla families open for trekking than Virunga National Park. Bwindi has 19 habituated gorilla family groups this means 152 Gorilla permits are available every day for gorilla trekking in Bwindi whereas Virunga National Park has 8 gorilla families open for trekking. This makes it more flexible to get gorilla trekking permits in Bwindi National Park especially during the peak season months compared to Virunga National Park which only has 64 permits available every day.
In terms of the best gorilla trekking experience, the whole truth is that both Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Virunga National Park in Congo and there is no big difference when it comes to the experience obtained at the end of your trek. Chances of seeing gorillas in Volcanoes National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are 98% so which ever park you visit you will be able to see these great apes in their natural environment. Gorilla trekking in Bwindi also gives you an option to spend more time with the mountain gorillas through Gorilla habituation experience which is only done in Bwindi forest, a gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 per person giving you an opportunity to spend 4 hours encounter with the semi habituated mountain gorillas under the guidance of trackers and researchers as opposed to one hour for the normal trekking.
In terms of affordability, It is much cheaper to see gorillas in Virunga National Park Congo than in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This issue of price difference is basically out of policy difference between these two countries DR Congo and Rwanda. Congo is trying to promote its gorilla tourism to attract more travelers after a long turmoil in the region that caused a lot of insecurity. The experience and duration spent with gorillas is still the same? A gorilla permit in Virunga National Park costs $400 per person per trek for the high season months of Mid-December to mid-march then June to October and then $200 for the low season months of mid-march to mid-May and then mid-October to mid-December every year. This gives you an opportunity to spend one hour encounter with the mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park. Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi vs Virunga National Park
The Gorilla permit in Bwindi Costs $700 Per person per trek for the Foreign non residents, $600 Per person for residents and $70 for East African Citizens (Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi and South Sudan), this gives you an opportunity to spend one hour encounter with the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.
In terms of safety and security; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the best place for gorilla trekking compared to Virunga National Park. Both countries have experience a long term insecurity between borders of these parks and DR Congo various rabble attacks and the Ebola outbreak which negatively affected the gorilla tourism activities for many year, however Uganda has since well managed to control the situations and now it is much stable and safer for gorilla trekking compared to Congo. During your gorilla trekking you will be escorted by armed and well trained rangers to protect you from any uncertain attacks of wild animals in the park and just in case the rabbles or poachers.
In terms of distance to see Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Virunga National Park in Congo, The issue of walking longer or short distance depends on the given gorilla family allocated to you on the day of trekking at of the national parks. In both Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Virunga National Park in Congo gorilla families are allocated depending on the interest and physical fitness of given individual. If for example, you want a shorter trek, you will have to inform the park authorities on the very day of trekking so that you are allocated such family. If you want a medium or longer trek, then you do the same. It should be noted that while they will try to give you a family that requires shorter walks, the behavior of gorillas might affect the experience if for example gorillas decide to move further as you look for them you will need to move a longer distance still.
Best time for gorilla trekking in Bwindi and Virunga National Park in Congo
Both parks are open for gorilla trekking all year round but it is also important to note that both are located within the tropics and it can receive rain at any time. The best months to track gorillas include; June to August and December to February since they receive the lowest rainfall and the forest is less slippery. On the other hand, when you happen to travel during March to May and November there are chances of higher rainfall, you will be able to get discounts from some lodges for your accommodation.
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