Did you know that there are two parks in Uganda where the popular gorilla trekking activity is done in Uganda? The most popular park is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which accounts for most of the gorilla tracking in Uganda. The other park that is less popular is Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which is Uganda’s part of the magnificent Virunga mountains that cut across the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Most tourists booking a gorilla trip in Uganda will request to trek in the Bwindi Impenetrable which has been more popularized but this is not surprising because Bwindi has the highest number of mountain gorillas of all the parks and also has the most habituated gorilla groups available for tourism, about 20 of them. Mgahinga gorilla national park on the other hand has just one resident habituated gorilla group called Nyakagezi, and occasionally Hirwa group will cross over from Rwanda’s volcanoes national park but will return after a couple of months. Nyakagezi group also has a tendence of visiting Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, but it has not left Mgahinga since 2012.
Why you would trek in Bwindi over Mgahinga
The many gorilla groups in Bwindi give you more options of groups to choose from. For example you may want a group with many members, or may prefer a group that offers an easier trek i.e. found closer to the trailhead so that you don’t trek for long.
Why you would trek in Mgahinga over Bwindi
Mgahinga offers an epic backdrop of the Virunga mountains, a big bonus to your gorilla trek for you to experience the famous Virunga mountains as well. The vegetation is also not as dense as the aptly named Bwindi impenetrable and therefore great for photography due to good light.
Trekking in Mgahinga is similar to gorilla trekking in Rwanda since the mountains are shared on the border. If therefore your dream was to have the gorilla trip Rwanda but can’t afford the hefty permit cost ($1500) then you can just cross over border at Cyanika and do the gorilla trekking on the other side of the mountains in Mgahinga National Park where the permit costs $700
Are the gorillas of Bwindi forest the same as those of the Virunga mountains?
Yes of course!
There is a myth, call it a rumor, that claims mountain gorillas in Bwindi are different species from those in the Virungas but this has not been declared by the scientists and should be treated as lazy propaganda