Compare Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi and Mgahinga National parks
Currently, gorilla trekking is the most sought activity in the whole world. Uganda’s Bwindi and Mgahinga National parks are the homes to these endangered species in Uganda. Mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas are a sub-specie of the eastern gorillas. These mountain gorillas are the most popular type of gorilla that is unique and the most interesting things to see in Africa, found in only 3 countries in the whole world. These include Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mountain gorillas live in Bwindi Impenetrable National park, Mgahinga National park in Uganda, Volcanoes National park in Rwanda and Virunga National park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Among all these 3 countries, Uganda spearheads them in gorilla trekking because of its highest number of mountain gorillas that can be seen in southwestern Uganda. Uganda is home to almost half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas. There are over 1000 and plus mountain gorillas in the world and Uganda shelters over 400 and more mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable National park and the rest in Mgahinga National park.
Regardless, the experience of gorilla trekking in Bwindi and Mgahinga National park is the same because you all trek gorillas which have the same features, and the same number of visitors is allowed for each gorilla group. However, there are some differences and similarities between gorilla trekking in these two National parks. These include;
Differences between gorilla trekking in Bwindi and Mgahinga National parks.
Bwindi Impenetrable National park is a popular gorilla trekking destination in the world. Due to its great and wonderful biodiversity, it was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994. Bwindi Impenetrable National park is home to more than 400 gorillas which is half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas. Most of these gorillas are habituated and live in 19 gorilla families that were habituated for trekking. Bwindi Impenetrable National has quite a big number of habituated gorilla families compared to Mgahinga National park which has only one group called Nyakagezi. This is the main reason why Bwindi impenetrable National park is popular and everyone wants to have their gorilla trekking experience from here.
Bwindi impenetrable National park has 19 habituated gorilla families that have been prepared for trekking. This means there is an availability of 152 gorilla permits every day compared to Mgahinga National park which has only one gorilla family with availability of only 8 gorilla permits every day. Therefore, Bwindi impenetrable National park receives more visitors for the gorilla trekking experience than Mgahinga National park on a daily basis.
There is an opportunity of Gorilla habituation in Bwindi impenetrable National park over Mgahinga National park. Gorilla habituation is a process taken by researchers, conservationists, park rangers, and scientists among others to train these mountain gorillas get used to human beings for trekking. This activity is only available in Bwindi National park for those visitors that want to spend more than one hour with the gorillas. The group left for gorilla habituation is Bushaho family in Rushaga sector located in the southern part of Bwindi National park.
Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National park also provides an opportunity of Volcano hiking on the next day after your gorilla experience, done on any of the three volcanoes including Gahinga, Sabinyo, and Muhabura. Each of these volcanos offers a great and quite a unique experience to the visitors. This activity is not available in Bwindi Impenetrable National park because it is located in the Virunga ranges.
Besides gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National park, the park is also known for golden monkey trekking in the whole of Uganda. Golden monkeys are only found in Mgahinga National park and Rwanda’s Volcanos National park in the whole world. Golden monkey trekking is another breathtaking activity that you won’t experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National park. Mgahinga National park is home to over 6 habituated golden monkey families and allows a maximum of 6 people to trek each group daily. However, Bwindi National park also offers chimpanzee viewing as you search for mountain gorillas, you come across some chimpanzees in the forests but not seen in Mgahinga National park.
Bwindi Impenetrable National park is divided into 4 sectors where gorilla trekking is carried out. Buhoma in the north, Ruhija in the East, and Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors in the southern part of the park. Buhoma sector has 4 gorilla groups, Ruhija has 4 gorilla groups, Rushaga has 8 gorilla groups and another group for habituation and Nkuringo has 3 gorilla families. All these groups offer almost the same experience besides their location and distance, Mgahinga has only one group.
Similarities between gorilla trekking in Bwindi and Mgahinga National park.
The gorilla trekking permit for both Bwindi impenetrable National park and Mgahinga National park costs $700 for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents, and UGX 250,000 for East African residents. So, the amount of the trekking permit for both parks doesn’t not change no matter. All are obtained from Uganda Wildlife Authority offices.
For both gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable National park and Mgahinga National park, a maximum of 8 people is allowed to trek the gorillas for each gorilla group on a daily basis. Besides chimpanzee and golden monkey trekking which allows 6 people, gorilla trekking allows only 8 to prevent them from being overcrowded because they get irritated and charge.
Both Mgahinga National park and Bwindi impenetrable National park are located in the southwestern part of Uganda though in different districts. Mgahinga is located in Kisoro district on the border with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Uganda and Bwindi covers 3 districts of Kanungu, Kabale, and Rukungiri but all in the southwestern part of Uganda. Almost the same driving hours from Kampala or Entebbe international airport for 8-9 hours for Bwindi National park and 10-11 hours for Mgahinga National park.
All visitors doing gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National park and Bwindi impenetrable National park are allowed to only one hour in the presence of the mountain gorillas. Whether you trek in Bwindi or Mgahinga, there is no extra time allowed after one hour one encounter with endangered species. In this one hour, you are allowed to take pictures with the mountain gorillas as well as study their behaviors.
Both Bwindi Impenetrable National park and Mgahinga National park are hard-to-reach areas because of their mountainous and hilly nature. Just like their name states “mountain gorillas” they live in the higher altitudes of these National parks of Uganda and parks in the Virunga ranges. Mountain gorillas can not survive in captivity like in zoos, unlike the lowland gorillas that can be seen in zoos. They are referred to as mountain gorillas because that’s where they survive not in lowland areas. The mountainous and hilly nature of these parks is the reason they shelter unique species.
Both Bwindi impenetrable National park and Mgahinga National park offer great experiences for the Batwa people after the gorilla trekking experience. The Batwa people are the early inhabitants of the Bwindi and Mgahinga forests who co-existed with the mountain gorillas. They were later evicted from the forests after the forests were gazetted into National parks. The Batwa people stayed outside the parks and today offer a great experience of their lifestyles and cultural experience to visitors that go gorilla trekking in both parks. This is an amazing experience that can not be missed on your gorilla trekking safari to Bwindi and Mgahinga National parks.