Mgahinga Gorilla National Park VS Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the best ways to know which of the 2 is best in terms of trekking. The terrains, gorilla families, distance, accommodation facilities and many more. This article basically describes the comparison between Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga as well as Gorilla trekking in Bwindi.
To start with, Gorilla trekking is one of the topmost activities that almost every primate lover on a Uganda safari would wish to tick off the bucket list. It’s such a fascinating adventure taking you to 2 beautiful destinations in Uganda. These are Mgahinga gorilla national park and Bwindi impenetrable national park. Gorilla trekking, however, is as well conducted in other 2 destinations in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda as well as Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This makes it 4 parks in East Africa where one can spend an hour with endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitats.
History of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Back in History, Bwindi impenetrable national park was gazette in year 1991 to protect its stunning Biodiversity. By the year 1994, Bwindi obtained a UNESCO world heritage title. This made it more famous than ever before to fully protect its endangered mountain Gorillas. This was after the opening up of gorilla trekking safaris after habituating the first Gorilla family Mubare.
This family was availed to trekkers in 1993 after taking 2 years in the habituation process to make it used to humans. Bwindi as well as other unique fauna and flora species including mammals like Bush pigs, Jackals. Also it has Antelopes, African Golden Cats, and primates such as Black and White Colobus monkeys. It has bird species like Eagle Owl, Parrots, African Green Broadbill, White-tailed blue flycatchers, and many more. These make the entire park very refreshing and worth a visit while on a Uganda safari.
History of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
On the other hand, Mgahinga Gorilla national park was as well gazette in 1991 which is the same year Bwindi was gazette implying that they were gazette in the same year. Mgahinga as well thrills with its unique attractions though small in size but it’s worth a visit. Apart from being home to only one habituated Nyakagezi Gorilla Family, Mgahinga Gorilla national park is as well home to 3 stunning Volcanoes including Sabyinyo, Gahinga and Muhavura. The park as well harbors another endangered primate specie, the “Golden Monkey” which all need to be fully protected and fully treasured thus escalating Mgahinga Gorilla National Park VS Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi is a famous destination worldwide for being home to the largest number of gorillas. Imagine more than half of these primates are in just one park Bwindi with 21 gorilla families habituated out of the entire 50 families. This makes it the best place to visit for a Gorilla trekking safari in Uganda.
In terms of size, Bwindi is larger than Mgahinga as it covers a landscape of 321square kilometers as compared to Mgahinga that covers 33.7 Square kilometers.
Population of gorillas
On population of Gorillas, obviously Bwindi impenetrable national park harbors the largest number of Gorilla families well distributed in 4 sectors of Rushaga, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Buhoma as compared to Mgahinga Gorilla national park that has only one habituated Nyakagezi Gorilla family found of Trans locating within Virunga Massif.
Sometimes, Nyakagezi Gorilla family crosses over to Volcanoes national park Rwanda and Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo thus need to keep an eye on it and monitor its moves to avoid disappointing trekkers. Currently, we hope it has finally settled down in Mgahinga though with nature we can’t predict what can happen next. Probably they can fully settle here in Mgahinga or plan their move once again. As of now, we assure you that trekking gorillas both in Bwindi and Mgahinga are possible. Check out bestselling Gorilla safaris to Bwindi and Mgahinga.
Another fascinating thing about Bwindi Impenetrable national park is that it as well caters for those who wish to spend more time with Gorillas. This is in what we call Gorilla Habituation experience and it’s conducted in Rushaga sector. Gorilla habituation experience is only done in Bwindi. No any other park or any other country in East African region makes it an extraordinary destination to explore at least once in a life time. Unlike Gorilla trekking in Both Bwindi and Mgahinga which requires 8 trekkers per gorilla family lasting for 1 hour, Gorilla habituation Experience in Bwindi allows only 4 persons and the adventure lasts for about 4 hours with Gorillas isn’t this fascinating?
Well, it could be only that the challenge is that during gorilla habituation experience, you are dealing with gorillas that aren’t used to humans thus expect lots of challenges like gorillas shying away and many more yet you got to persist and toil harder till your goal is achieve. For the case with gorilla trekking in Bwindi and Mgahinga, you are dealing with gorillas that are free and used to human presence making it fun and more exciting.
Accessing the mountain gorillas
Like any other mountainous area, accessing Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi and Mgahinga requires straining hikes up and down via different trails until the allocated family is finally spotted which then guarantees a maximum duration of I hour in presence of Gorillas closely interacting with them, taking photographs, short videos and many more. However, spending one hour with gorillas doesn’t mean that you actually have just an hour in the forest, No! you have many hours ranging from 2-8. Or even more depending on some factors like the trekking speed of the slowest person in the group of 8 trekkers. The movement of Gorillas in regards to where they were spotted nesting the previous evening, the nature of the terrains as it involves hiking up and down and many more.
Though there is a myth that Trekking Nyakagezi Gorilla family in Mgahinga is easier than trekking in Bwindi. This is not fully confirmed as sometimes trekkers in Bwindi find gorillas very fast than expected. But since Mgahinga gorilla national park is small, probably it could be the case as to why people think that it’s very easy to trace those gorillas than Bwindi which is very forest and large in size thus offering a whole lot of things to see while in search of Gorillas.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi and Mgahinga is charged a similar fee since the Gorilla permits are the same at a cost of $700 per person for Foreign Non-Residents, $600 for Foreign Residents, and 250,000 Ugandan shilling for both Ugandans and East African Community members states. These Gorilla trekking permits are issued by only one body, Uganda Wildlife Authority whose headquarters are based in Kamwokya along Kira road. So with the same cost of permits, the only difference comes in accommodation facilities since they range from Luxury, Midrange, and budget.
The rules and regulations
The gorilla trekking rules and regulations in both Mgahinga and Bwindi remain the same. Even the same applies to Volcanoes national park in Rwanda as well as Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Some of these gorilla trekking rules and regulations include;
- The maximum age limit of gorilla trekking is 15 years
- Only 8 persons trek a particular gorilla family
- 1 hour is the maximum time to spend with the gorillas per day
- No littering the park
- No noise making while in the habitat of gorillas
- Keeping a social distance of about 7M is a must
- Sick people are always propitiated from trekking gorillas
- No one is supposed to eat, drink, or even smoke while in the presence of gorillas
- Keep in a group while in the wilderness with gorillas
- No using flash light while taking photographs or recording the video of gorillas
- When gorillas charge which is a rare case, do not panic, or run. Just follow all guidelines by the rangers who fully knows how to handle these primates.
All the above rules are applicable in both Bwindi and Mgahinga. They are worth following while on an adventurous gorilla trekking safari in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.
Other things to do,
Both Bwindi and Mgahinga offer other things to do during gorilla trekking safari.
In Bwindi impenetrable national park, one can combine gorilla trekking with the Batwa experience. Also they can do birding, as well as Guided walks through different trails.
While in Mgahinga, it’s very easy to combine gorilla trekking with Golden monkey trekking. It is also easy to do birding, volcanoes climbing, Batwa trail, guided nature walks and visiting Garama Caves. Thus the choice of Gorilla trekking in either Mgahinga Gorilla National Park VS Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This will definitely depend on what the trekker intended to encounter or do after gorilla trekking.
What to pack for Gorilla trekking in Bwindi and Mgahinga
The packing list is the same not only in Uganda but also in Rwanda and Congo and they include;
- A camera as usual to capture your life experience with gorillas
- A gorilla trekking permit is a MUST have
- Waterproof hiking boots
- Both warm and light attire
- Long sleeved attire
- Garden gloves
- A cap and sunglasses
- Insect repellant
- A pair of binoculars for a birder
- Enough drinking water
- A walking stick “provided during briefing”
Getting to Mgahinga and Bwindi for gorilla trekking
Since both Bwindi and Mgahinga are situated in the far southwestern part of Uganda, they can both be easily accessed from either Kampala the capital city of Uganda, or even from Kigali the capital city of Rwanda either by road or by air.
The driving distance from Kampala to Mgahinga or Bwindi takes about 7-9 hours. However, from Kigali, it takes about 4 hours thus one can easily choose whether to drive from Kampala or Kigali.
While by air, Aero link offers flights from either Kajansi or Entebbe to Kisoro Airstrip or Kihihi Airstrip.
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