What’s the difference between Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda?
Gorilla Trekking is a must do activity for any wildlife lover. However if the budget only stretches to one gorilla trek, it is important to know if Uganda or Rwanda is the best option for you. Below we summarise the pros and cons based on our own personal gorilla trekking experiences since 2005.
The number of gorilla families in both Uganda and Rwanda is constantly changing, bringing the wonder of a gorilla encounter to more and more visitors, which helps conserve the species for future generations to enjoy; with respect and love. Which gorilla family you are given to trek to will directly affect the type of experience; such as length of the walk in, difficulty of the terrain and chances to see them in a more 'open' environment for photography. This blog will not go into great detail on individual gorilla groups, but rather make some observations about the difference between trekking in Uganda and Rwanda.
With the exception of the gorilla family at Nukuringo - which we trekked to in 2010 - you can say that the gorilla trekking in Uganda tends to involve walking through dense primary forest; especially from Buhoma, where you also often have a steep vegetated slope to climb up before getting into the main habitat. It was here in 2005 that we encountered our very first gorilla family and were awestruck by the primeval forest and a glimpse of individuals from the resident gorilla family. However, the dense forest and lack of many open areas tends to produce very intimate encounters with some members of the gorilla family, rather than seeing gorilla groups interact as a whole. This is just a general statement, as of course the families are on the move constantly for food and it will depend in which specific location you find them.
After visiting Bwindi back in 2005 we were privilaged to cross the border into Rwanda and visit the famous Parc de Volcans and have an incredible opportunity to go gorilla trekking to the 'mighty' Sabinyo gorilla family; which at that time has 34 individuals in the group. What was noticable immediately was that the initial walking was often in villagers terraced fields before arrriving in secondary 'scrub' forest. This meant that when we found the Sabinyo family we could observe them interacting in family groups, sometimes with as many as 8-10 indivudals in one space. Again we were obviously very lucky on that particular day, but we have been sending clients to Uganda and Rwanda for 10 years now and most returning photographers make similar comments about the differences between photographing the gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda when on their gorilla safari.