Go to Rwanda to see gorillas
Rwanda is Africa’s most accessible gorilla trekking country, Rwanda is a tiny country that punches way above its weight in sheer natural beauty. Its flagship reserve, Volcanoes National Park, lies only 80 kilometres (50 miles) – about three hours by road – from Kigali International Airport.
Where to See Gorillas in Rwanda
The stunning Volcanoes National Park is situated in north-western Rwanda and covers 160 square kilometres (62 square miles) of prime rainforest, encompassing five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains range. Gorillas are critically endangered primates and highly sociable creatures that spend most of their waking hours searching for food on the ground, moving less than 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) a day – which makes them easily trackable. You’ll be guided by an experienced gorilla tracker through the park’s towering African redwoods and bamboo, weaving vines, and flowering lobelias to the area where you’ll experience a soul-stirring, face-to-face encounter with one of mankind’s closest living relatives.
Volcanoes National Park was the base for pioneering primatologist Dian Fossey, which makes it authentic Gorillas in the Mist country – you can even pay your respects at Fossey’s grave. It's a well-protected and monitored reserve full of monkeys (including the rare golden monkey) and forest birds. At least 10% of the revenue from tourism goes to community projects around the park, reinforcing the positive impact of gorilla trekking in Rwanda and making conservation of these great apes meaningful to rural communities in a very practical way. Reformed poachers are employed by conservation projects that allow them to earn a legitimate income.
Best Time to See Gorillas in Rwanda
Although gorilla trekking in Rwanda is regarded as a year-round activity, the country’s dry seasons offer by far the easiest hiking conditions and the lowest risk of malaria.
Rwanda's long rainy season lasts from about March to May. The long dry season then kicks off in June and lasts until about mid-September – this is generally the preferred time to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda. October to November sees a shorter rainy season, which is followed by a brief dry season from December to February. This is also a good time to see gorillas in Rwanda, although it can get a little more humid than the June to September period.
Get Gorilla Trekking Permits to see gorillas in Rwanda
The price of a permit is $1 500 USD per person for spending one hour with the gorillas in Rwanda. These are often sold out up to a year in advance for a trek during the long dry season (June to September), so we recommend booking your trip as soon as you know you want to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda.
Rwanda Gorilla Safaris are best for…
If you have limited time, then Rwanda is where to see gorillas in Africa. You can simply land in Kigali, be driven to your lodge, trek the next day and leave for the airport the following morning, making it possible to wrap up your gorilla trekking trip in five days or less.
See gorillas in Uganda
Uganda Mountain gorillas can survive only in their natural habitat, so trekking into their native forests like Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is your only chance to see these gorillas in the wild. There are strict regulations in place – like the Uganda gorilla trekking permit requirements – to ensure the health and safety of these animals. Daily viewings of each gorilla group are very limited, so we recommend you book your Uganda gorilla trekking trip about a year in advance. The good news is that the country’s trekking permits are among the most affordable, so Uganda is where to see gorillas in Africa if you’re on a tight budget.
Where to go to See Gorillas in Uganda
Uganda’s mountain gorillas live in the epically named Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, a cloak of tangled green that covers the country’s south-western mountains and Mgahinga Park. It’s a day’s drive (about 10 to 11 hours) from the capital Kampala or from Entebbe or a quick (but more costly) charter flight – so you’ll work a little harder to get there than in Rwanda, but it’s worth it!
Bwindi is a World Heritage Site of both montane and lowland forest that provides a verdant habitat for about 120 species of mammals, 350 bird species, 220 butterfly species, plus many more reptiles and amphibians. Thanks to the income generated from tourism, the park’s endangered mountain gorilla numbers have seen positive growth to about half of the world's population. And, if you’re interested in seeing primate species other than gorillas in Africa, Bwindi will offer fantastic encounters with colobus monkeys and chimpanzees during your Uganda gorilla trekking adventure.
When to Go for gorilla trekking: Best Time to See Gorillas in Uganda
The country experiences two dry and two wet seasons in a year. Although a Uganda gorilla trekking expedition is considered a year-round activity, most visitors prefer the drier months of June to September and December to February, when trekking conditions are more favourable.
Uganda’s parks are less crowded and accommodation facilities are more affordable due to the few visitors during the low seasons (March to May and October to November). This is the best time for budget-conscious visitors interested in a Uganda gorilla trekking trip.
Gorilla Trekking Permits in Uganda to see gorillas
The price of a permit is $700 USD per person to spend one hour with the gorillas in Uganda. You can also opt for a habituation permit of $1 500 USD, which allows you to go out with the researchers and spend up to four hours with the gorillas in the wild.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda Best For…
The country offers animal lovers who want to go on a Uganda gorilla trekking expedition a wonderful opportunity to combine it with a safari in one of Africa’s up-and-coming safari destinations. And thanks to Uganda’s low cost of trekking permits, it’s a great choice for travellers looking for budget-friendly options to see gorillas in Africa.
Other Wildlife Experiences in Uganda after you see gorillas
Gorilla trekking in Bwind can be combined with other wildlife experiences in Uganda by tailoring your itinerary to include nearby Kibale National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park, allowing you to add chimpanzee trekking plus big game viewing to your Uganda gorilla trekking expedition.