Uganda is by the far the best place for a gorilla trekking safari. The country is home to half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas which are found in two national parks. The two parks where you can see these massive creatures is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, each having unique habitat and scenery for you to enjoy beyond the gorilla trek.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is approximately 331 square kilometers and is divided into four sectors each with a park office and briefing area. The earliest sector to start gorilla trekking is Buhoma which also houses the main park headquarters in the northern section of the forest in Kanungu district. Currently there are 4 gorilla families in Buhoma sector available for visitors to trek. Ruhija sector is found in the Eastern section of the forest which is located Kabale district, it is home to 5 gorilla families for trekking. Rushaga sector found in the southern part of the park in Kisoro district has the highest number of gorilla families, currently at 7 groups. Nkuringo sector in the southwest section has the least number of gorilla families and the steepest terrain for hiking, it is home to 3 gorilla families. This currently makes a total of 19 gorilla families in the Bwindi impenetrable national park.
Mgahinga National Park on the other hand is approximately 34 square kilometers, it is the smallest national park in Uganda huddled deep in the south western corner of the country on the border with Rwanda. The main park entrance is at Ntebeko which is the starting place for those going for golden monkeys, Mt Gahinga and Mt Sabyinyo but there is another entrance for those going for gorilla trekking and Mt Muhavura. The park is made up of 3 different volcanoes i.e. Gahinga, Sabyinyo and Muhavura. It currently has only one group of mountain gorillas that has been habituated trekking. Each gorilla group or family gets a family name after habituation and the gorilla family in Mgahinga is Nyakagezi.
Bwindi Impenetrable forest has a thick vegetation cover which sometimes makes it difficult to capture clear photographs of the gorillas without them hiding behind vegetation cover, this can be frustrating if photography is your main interest. On the other hand, it is easier to photograph the gorillas in the Mgahinga national park because of the generally open vegetation. In both you will do hiking because of the terrain in the area and depending on location of the gorillas, it can be hectic.
All factors considered, Bwindi Impenetrable forest is more popular and gets so many bookings maybe because of the marketing and the fact that gorilla trekking started here before the rest of the place. The gorilla group in Mgahinga gorilla national park has 3 silverbacks which are a beautiful sight to behold. The gorilla trekking experience is beautiful from both locations and you will enjoy your encounter with these gentle giants. You are advised to plan way ahead and book your gorilla permit because they are competitive especially if you want to travel in the high/peak season.