Gorilla Trekking: Is it Uganda or Rwanda?


A number of people scratch their heads whilst researching whether to go to Uganda or Rwanda. This article is set to prove which country, Uganda vs Rwanda, would suit you better when going on a gorilla trekking adventure.

There are approximately 700 mountain gorillas that remain on the planet, and they all live in the Virunga Mountains of Central Africa. The Virunga Mountains cross three different countries; Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As the Congo has had some problems in the last few years, Uganda and Rwanda are a more popular choice for gorilla trekking.

Uganda and Rwanda have a different number of Gorillas:

Uganda – 10 Troops
Rwanda – 8 Troops

A ‘troop’ is the group or family of gorillas which can be sized between five and thirty.
These numbers are not always accurate as the Gorillas tend to cross freely over the boarders between the countries through the forest.


Rwanda vs Uganda – Which One Is Best For You?


Where to See Gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda

Uganda – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (accessible by road with an 8hr scenic drive from Kampala or a short light aircraft flight transfer) and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Rwanda – Volcanoes National Park Mountains (2 hour drive from Kigali airport).

Rwanda comes up tops for us for its ease of access.

Rwanda: 1     Uganda: 0

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda

Terrain and scenery: Uganda vs Rwanda 

The terrain in Uganda is generally a little bit easier for trekking versus that in Rwanda, as it is not as mountainous. However, Bwindi National Park can be a little more difficult trek at times due to the weather conditions as well as the fact that it is a mountainous region. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda shares the hilly Park de Volcans with Rwanda, and this area is one where Gorillas easily cross the border.

Renowned for being a little bit tougher to trek than Uganda, Rwanda has stunning forrest that takes your breath away. The scenery is very different to that found in Uganda – known as ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’ Rwanda overall is a stunning country with diverse landscapes. Venture from the rainforest floor and up into the mountains for some stunning views over the rolling hills.

Our pick – although it can be a harder trek – is Rwanda as the views are truly magnificent.

Rwanda: 1     Uganda: 0

Altitude in Rwanda or Uganda

Mgahinga is at a higher altitude (approx 3,000 meters) than Bwindi, making it a destination for travellers looking for a higher-mountain experience within Uganda. The volcano range found in Mgahinga National Park crosses over the border, spreading into all three of the gorilla trekking countries.

The altitudes that gorilla trekking is done at are higher in Rwanda than in Uganda. In planning your trekking, head to Uganda if you prefer lower altitudes, or for those who prefer the higher altitudes, Rwanda is the best choice. The altitude difference really depends on what you’re after, so there is no clear winner here.

Rwanda: 0     Uganda: o

Rwanda Land of a Thousand Hills - iStock - Guenterguni.jpg
Rwanda ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’

What about the weather in Uganda and Rwanda?

Since it is a tropical rainforest, one can expect regular rainfalls and frequently wet conditions when trekking, so we would award some points to the drier destination.

Uganda and Rwanda both experience the same rainy seasons, which happen twice a year: usually in April and May, and then between October and December. We ideally recommend going to visit the Gorillas between January and February, or in  June and July. At this time, both countries have the same tropical weather, and so, there is no winner for what the right season is to visit the gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda.

Rwanda: 0     Uganda: 0


Bwindi Gorilla Clan - Shutterstock.jpg
A ‘Troop’ Relaxing in the jungle

Uganda vs Rwanda – Which One Has Better Activities?

As a country that has a lot of diversity in the way of scenery, national safari parks and mountain gorillas, Uganda is the number one place to visit in the region for a diverse safari holiday. If organised appropriately, visitors can include exciting game safaris in Queen Elizabeth National Park with their trip to see the mountain gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest does not only draw visitors who want to see gorillas, but it also for those who are keen birders. In fact, its one of the top birding destinations in Africa.

In Rwanda, Gorilla photography opportunities are exceptional. Nyungwe National Park has a diverse selection of other primates that visitors can also track in the same way as mountain gorillas; although the treks are possibly longer, they are very rewarding with approximately thirteen different primates as well as a variation of incredibly coloured birds. Our Africa experts voted that although Uganda has more to offer in terms of diversity across the country, Rwanda offers stronger diversity of wildlife in the immediate area.

Rwanda: 0     Uganda: 0

Bwindi gorilla at the lodge 1.jpg
Young Gorilla Eating at Volcanoes Bwindi Safari Lodge

What about Accommodation?

In Uganda, there are a number of gorilla lodges in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Gorilla Forest Camp is nestled amongst the forest, creating a magical atmosphere in the camp. Volcanoes Bwindi Safari Lodge is positioned on the mountainside so has beautiful views over the park. Both of these accommodations are favoured by our travel experts.

In Rwanda, lodges have fantastic views over the lakes as well as prime positions in the heart of the forest, with fantastic treks available on your doorstep, head out to see primates as well as other exciting wildlife in the close vicinity. Our pick would be Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge in Volcanoes National Park or Nyungwe Forest Lodge in Nyungwe Forest National Park overlooking Lake Kivo.

Rwanda: 0     Uganda: 0

Uganda vs Rwanda: The Final 

Rwanda – 2

Uganda – 0

Although our scores have brought out a winner in Rwanda, from reading this you will have found out that Uganda and Rwanda host a very different gorilla trekking experience, and both have their advantages. Uganda is the better destination for you to go to if you are looking for a Gorilla adventure as well as other safari activities, an easier-going trek, or wish to see the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Rwanda, on the other hand, is the destination to go when you are looking to spend some time trekking through higher altitude mountainous rainforest, or for easier access from the nearest international airport. We think that Rwanda is more rewarding overall for guests looking solely to see the mountain gorillas and other primate species. Although the trek is harder, you are more likely to see larger troops and gorilla families due to the higher number of residents in the forest here.

Rwanda Charles the Gorilla - iStock WL Davies.jpg


Fun Facts About Rwanda & Uganda

  • Gorillas are the world’s largest primate.
  • Gorillas all have a unique fingerprint just like a human as well as a unique nose print!
  • If you have a common cold or illness you will not be able to see the gorillas as they are susceptible to pneumonia which they develop from a cold.
  • Uganda has more Butterflies of different colours than any other East African Country.
  • Rwanda does not allow plastic bags anywhere. In fact, if you land in Rwanda with a plastic bag it will be confiscated.

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