Comparing Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park; The answer is that ,Bwindi sounds as a home to the largest population of the remaining great endangered mountain gorillas in the world and hosting half remaining gentle giants in the wild .Bwindi also has a large number of gorilla groups with more than 22 families and are all fully habituated and open for gorilla trekking tours .Mgahinga Gorilla National Park so far has two habituated gorilla groups open for tourism. In addition to that, gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park can be done in four different sectors of the park where the above 22 gorilla families are splintered. These four gorilla sectors include; Nkuringo, Ruhija, Rushaga and Buhoma.
However, the two groups in the Nkuringo and Rushaga sector are officially open for the Gorilla Habituation Experience where the four visitors are allowed 4 hours to be with the gorilla family. The best way to enjoy and have unforgettable Gorilla Experience is to visit Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Gorilla trekking experience is different from gorilla habituation, where 8 visitors are allowed to encounter a gorilla family for only one hour.
Gorilla trekking experience, can now be done in both National Park though there was a time when that wasn’t the case in Mgahinga. Because of the Nyakagezi group which has now settled in Mgahinga since they used to border cross over to Rwanda and even sometimes Democratic Republic of Congo. By those years, trekking gorillas in Mgahinga sometime seemed to be difficult since the Nyakagezi family was always on move. Today the family no longer border cross and gorilla trekking is quite rewarding.
However, Gorilla trekking experience in both Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park can be strenuous since it involves in hiking through rough and steep terrain to locate the gorilla’s groups. More then, it is accepted that the Nyakagezi group in Mgahinga are a much easier group to track, because they live in a smaller range of group compared to most of the gorilla groups in Bwindi.
Due to large forest of Bwindi, visitors to Bwindi have to put in a lot energy to hike –go deeper in the forest in search of some of the gorilla groups. Though some of the gorilla groups in Bwindi live very near just at the starting points and finding them it takes less than one and half hours, these gorilla groups can be trekked by trackers who are old in age or weak in hiking long distances. Meanwhile, Mgahinga receives fewer crowds on gorilla trekking where trackers can be allowed more privacy to peacefully enjoyment the great scenery around the park.
Another advantage about Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has over Bwindi, is the only park in Uganda Safari Destination where visitors can do both Golden monkey tracking and Mountain Gorilla Trekking. This implies that visitors on visit can choose to combine gorilla trekking with golden monkey tracking.
While on Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest visitors can encounter chimpanzees along the trails yet Mgahinga is not a home for chimpanzees. Besides, Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga gives visitors opportunities to take part in mountain hiking unlike in Bwindi. Here are the amazing volcanoes in Mgahinga you can choose to carryout hiking experience on one of these three mountains namely; Mount Muhavura, Mount Sabinyo and Mount Gahinga. One engaging in climbing experience to the top of any of these Volcanoes, this rewards visitors with spectacular views of endless grassland or bamboo forest of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and sopping beautiful birds, forest mammals and primates like colobus monkeys and Golden monkeys along the trial.
On visit to Mgahinga Gorilla national park can opt to combine gorilla trekking and visiting the Garamba and Muhavura caves which were once used by the Batwa for food storage, gathering, royal housing thus making Gorilla trekking attractive.
Culture encounter; Both National parks were home for the Batwa pygmies before gazette into game parks and now resides in areas that surrounds the park. Each park allows visitors to go visit the Batwa tribe during their time in the park. Note, the Batwa pygmies were the original community living in the park for thousands of years before they were sadly evicted from the park in year 1991. The gorilla conservation program was to go to the next level, has it was agreed that it was necessary for the Batwa to be relocated elsewhere. They had to go and settle to the neighboring community to the park. To many visitors who come to do gorilla trekking, do not leave without visiting these unique tribes where you can be introduced to their culture, ancient caves, former war hideouts, sacred places, gods, dances, language, traditional stories and their ways of hunting.
Both National Parks offers to visitors a great opportunity for nature walks and nature walk conducted in Bwindi is quite rewarding as you can be guided through several interesting trails like the waterfall trail, Muzabajirro loop trail, Bamboo trail and the Rushara trail. You can also choose to visit the local communities around Buhoma and learn about their life style.
However, Gorilla trekking experience can be done with valid permit that allows you to access their nature inhabitants. Of which their cost is quite similar for both national parks. Both Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla national park –Gorilla permits goes at USD700 per person per trek for foreign nonresidents and Gorilla Habituation Experience costs USD1,500 per trek.
Some rules given for gorilla trekking that apply to both Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park; which are designed to help protect the gorillas from human diseases includes; Trekkers must be 15 years of age to do gorilla trekking in both parks. Only eight visitors are allowed to trek a gorilla group in a day and strictly one hour at most. Flash discs are not allowed. Sick visitors are not allowed to trek gorillas. Stay in tight groups when approach the family you’re trekking. Do not touch gorillas among others.
The essential list to carry with during gorilla trekking in Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park includes; Long sleeved shirts, pants, water-proof hiking shoes, long stockings, huts sunscreen and walking stick. Other prescription drugs, cameras, binoculars, water and snack will ensure to have a comfortable time during gorilla trekking.
Getting to each of the two parks;
From Kampala to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga it takes 8 to 9 hours’ drive.
Both Bwindi and Mgahinga while using a shorter distance from Kigali takes 4 hours in Rwanda.
By Air; You can book your domestic flight from Entebbe or Kajjansi by Aerolink fly to Kisoro Airstrip near Mgahinga or Kihihi near Bwindi, it may take 1:30 hours. Both national parks are located in southwestern Uganda.
Since Bwindi is located near Queen Elizabeth national park allows primates lovers to enjoy a full African Safari with game viewing of tree climbing lions in the park among other species.