BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FORESTBwindi and Volcanoes National Parks are the two leading gorilla safari destinations in Africa and the whole world. It’s obvious that if a traveller does not trek gorillas in Bwindi, then his/her next option is Volcanoes National Park.

The two gorilla national parks vary in location; Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is located in southwestern Uganda while Volcanoes National Park is located in northwestern Rwanda. Volcanoes Park is located 106.3 kilometres from Kigali International airport, which takes 2 hours and 30 minutes drive from Kigali International airport while Bwindi is located 462.5 kilometres from Entebbe international airport which takes roughly 9 hours drive. If you are trekking Uganda gorillas starting from Kigali Rwanda, the drive from Kigali to Bwindi is roughly 4 hours via Katuna border in Kabale or Cyanika border in Kisoro district.

Bwindi forest has 17 gorilla families habituated for trekking while Volcanoes National Park currently has 9 Gorilla groups. The Gorilla families in Bwindi are scattered in four sectors, which are Buhoma, Ruhjia, Nkuringo and Rushaga. Bwindi Gorilla groups include Mubare, Kyaguliro, Mishaya, Habiyanja, Kyaguliro, Bweza, Nshongi, katwe, Christmas, Bushaho, Bitukura and Rushegura among others. On the other hand, the habituated gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park are Susa, Amahoro, Karisimbi, Agashya, Kwitonda, Umubano, Bwengye, Uganda, Titus and Hirwa gorilla family which is currently living in Mgahinga gorilla National Park Uganda.

Bwindi impenetrable forest national park; a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda costs $700 per person trekking the gorillas for Non- foreign residents, $600 per permit for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for east African citizens. The permit includes the park entry fees, services of the ranger guide, and one hour with the gorillas. For travellers who would love to spend more time with the gorillas, and take part in the gorilla habituation experience, the gorilla habituation permit goes for $1500 per person. Volcanoes national park among all three countries in east Africa, offers gorilla trekking, Rwanda is the only country in Africa with a higher amount of gorilla trekking permit, volcanoes gorilla trekking permit goes for $ 1500 per person, and Rwanda is a luxurious country for gorilla trekking. The permit allows you to spend one hour with the gorillas from the time you meet them compared to Uganda’s gorilla habituation experience with the same cost of the gorilla permit as Rwanda, which allows you to spend 4 hours with the gorillas in their natural habitat.

Bwindi impenetrable forest national park gorillas are distributed in all four sectors of Bwindi impenetrable forest. Bwindi comprises of 18 habituated gorilla families whereby Uganda wildlife authority issues 144 gorilla permits on daily basis for gorilla trekking activities. Both Bwindi national park and volcanoes national park, allows only a maximum of 8 people to visit a single habituated gorilla family every day. The permit allows you one hour with the gorillas in their natural habitat. Gorilla trekking involves hiking on steep terrain/ slopes therefore, travellers are required to be physically fit since trekking sometimes takes longer hours before you meet the gorillas. During the trek, you will also sight some attractions like the plants, and primate species like the red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, L-honest monkeys and different bird species.

Bwindi national park has got several lodges from where a client is able to choose where to stay during his or her visit to Bwindi’s impenetrable national Park, the lodges are located in all four sectors of the park, The lodges offer quality accommodation facilities, high-quality meals, drinks and others and are distributed to meet all the categories of clients that is budget midrange, luxury lodges. The lodges in Bwindi include; Buhoma lodge, Buhoma Haven Lodge, Mahogany springs lodge, Bwindi guest house, Enganzi lodge, chameleon hill lodge, Nkuringo gorilla camp, Trekkers Tarvern lodge, Rushaga gorilla camp, Ruhija community rest haven, gorilla safari lodge, Ruhija gorilla mist camp, Gift of nature lodge, Rushaga gorilla haven, Ichumbi gorilla lodge and others. Volcanoes national park also offers a wide range of lodges to the client both luxury, mid-range and budget lodges to meet the interest of the visitors. The lodges include; five volcanoes Boutique Hotel, Garden place Hotel, Farage Hotel, Best View Hotel, Da Vinci Gorilla lodge, Hotel Muhavura, Mountain Gorilla View lodge, Virunga lodge, Le Bambou Gorilla lodge, Garr Hotel, Kinigi Guest House, La Palme Hotel, Gorilla Volcanoes Hotel among others.

The future of Africa’s Mountain Gorilla conservation

The Endangered Mountain Gorillas are amazing primate species that exist only in East and Central Africa in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo DRC. Mountain gorillas are the largest primates species in the world, however, the size of the mountain gorillas have been sometimes been exaggerated. Uganda has the biggest population of mountain gorillas, which stay in the Bwindi Impenetrable forest, the mountain gorillas are the largest members of the primate family. Despite the heavy size of the mountain gorillas, they still live on the land and in big tree branches that can support their weight in the air. The mountain gorillas are mainly inhabitants of the unique environment of tropical rainforest within the highland areas of central and east Africa that is Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Bwindi’s impenetrable national harbours a quarter of the World’s population of mountain gorillas. Other big communities of mountain gorillas are found in Virunga National park, Mgahinga national Park and volcanoes National park; all these national parks have been designated as a protectorate for the mountain gorillas by the World Conservation Organs called International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as the Virunga conservation area.

In the early 1990’s, the survival of these creatures was at a stake due to the existence of civil wars, especially in the countries of Rwanda and The Democratic Republic of Congo where their habitats were at times used as fighting grounds. This led to a drastic decrease in their population numbers. This prompted the creation of a consortium of the governments of the three countries – Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – where the gorillas live and non-governmental conservation organizations, one of the main tasks of the GVTC is conducting censuses for these and other species in the region, which have greatly contributed to the survival of these apes in the world today.

Several mountain gorilla conservation and protection programs have been established for the protection of these wildlife species such as; the resettlement of the Batwa Pygmies of Uganda outside Bwindi’s Impenetrable natural forest thus reducing habitat encroachment and hunting, The Mountain gorilla naming Ceremony of Rwanda in which Baby gorillas are named every year, the establishment of gorilla tracking rules like ( limiting the number of tourists visiting the gorillas, restricting human contact with the animals to reduce on the spread of diseases, forbidding sick visitors from visiting the gorillas, promotion of good sanitation in the vicinity of mountain gorillas etc.) these and many other measures have greatly contributed to the survival of mountain gorillas in the world today. This, therefore, explains the gradual increase in the mountain gorilla population to about 1000 surviving mountain gorillas.

The increase in mountain gorillas inhabiting the region has been attributed to effective conservation policies, strategies, regulated tourism, daily protection and veterinary interventions, intensive law enforcement, community conservation projects, and transboundary collaboration among government institutions and non-governmental organizations. The mountain gorilla numbers are a wonderful indicator of successful conservation. Despite the many challenges, including insecurity in DRC, the numbers have gone up. And this does not only benefit conservation, as it creates tangible economic benefits for local communities as well, a certain percentage of the revenue from gorilla tracking permits goes back to the communities.

Despite this victory, the populations of mountain gorillas remain perilously small and vulnerable to a potential rapid decline due to factors such as their limited habitat, climate change, dependency on the park’s resources by people, and the risk of disease transmission. The Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration calls upon individuals, all conservation institutions and organizations to join efforts to conserve mountain gorillas and their habitat for future generations.

How tourists evade high Gorilla permit prices for Rwanda

Gorilla trekking is generally considered to be one of the most popular wildlife activities in the world. Each year, over 100,000 tourists visit Africa with the sole purpose of observing the primates in the wild. Most who complete the activity find it an experience of a lifetime. Imagine hiking deep inside Africa’s pristine forests for hours while also encountering birds, smaller primates, butterflies, forest antelopes and rare vegetation before hearing the grunt of a mighty silverback. An amazing experience indeed but in order to take part, you will need to acquire an expensive gorilla permit. The Rwanda Development Board announced the increment of the gorilla permit price from US$750 to US$1500. The double price was aimed at turning Rwanda into a luxury gorilla safari destination but dues to this increment in gorilla permit prices; it has affected many travellers across the globe as well as tour operators. several tourists who are not able to pay the gorilla permit fee of $1500 in Rwanda have found Uganda and Congo the ultimate solution to bypass paying the high gorilla permit fees for Rwanda gorilla permits. These two destinations today attract a considerable number of budget travellers and even backpackers who prefer to travel on their own. This high demand for gorilla tourism in Africa has changed the travel story for Uganda and Congo DRC and now they are the most amazing famous gorilla trekking spots across the globe for all kinds of travellers.