NOTE: Starting June 1, 2019, Air Kenya will offer service between Mara and Kisumu airports in the Maasi Mara, Kenya and Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport, connecting with Aerolink’s early afternoon flights to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, and Kidepo Valley National Park.
Last year, Rwanda increased its gorilla permit fees from $750 to $1500. Uganda has kept their gorilla permits at $600. A year later, Uganda is fast becoming the most popular destination to visit the mountain gorillas.
Rwanda used to be the most popular destination for gorillas because of the shorter travel time. However, since Rwanda has chosen to focus on the exclusive luxury market, travelers have started to look for other options, and Uganda is the perfect fit.
When crossing the border to Uganda for gorilla trekking you have 2 National Parks in the Kisoro region where you can trek the gorillas:
- Bwindi Impenetrable NP
- Mt Gahinga NP
These are 2 different experiences. Mt Gahinga is a volcano part of the famous chain of volcanoes called the Virunga while Bwindi is a tropical rain forest. Trekking in Mt Gahinga is like trekking the Rwanda gorillas since the Gahinga Volcano is shared between Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Genetically both gorillas species are mountain gorillas but they have been separated long time ago by human agriculture. Scientists consider that the Bwindi gorilla to be a subspecies of the “Rwanda” gorillas. This are 2 different experiences with different environments.
Option #1 — Kigali to Bwindi
The first option is to fly into Kigali, Rwanda, and drive to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park area in Uganda. This is about a 4-hour drive one-way, adding about 1.5 hours from the gorilla area in Rwanda. This trip can be done in as little as 3 days, but often it typically becomes 4 days with the timing of international flights. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda can be added with extra days. Travelers will need 2 visas for Rwanda and 1 for Uganda.
Option #2 — Fly from Entebbe to Bwindi
The second option is to fly into Entebbe, Uganda and fly to the Bwindi area. Flights are to either Kisoro or Kihihi depending on the availability of gorilla permits. There are many lodging options near Bwindi from budget to luxury. This trip can be done in 4-5 days.
Option #3 — 12-Day Grand Tour
The third option is to make Uganda your main destination and add activities like the chimpanzees, safari game drives to see the Big 5, and Murchison Falls on the Nile River. This trip takes about 12 days total.
This ‘Uganda Grand Tour’ route allows you to visit Uganda’s Albertine Rift, and visit its most important protected areas including Murchsion Falls National Park, Kibale National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. It includes plenty of wildlife, birds, chimpanzee, and gorilla viewing. Uganda is safe and friendly, so this is really an amazing trip!