Is it possible to fly into Kigali and Trek gorillas in Uganda
YES, Kigali Bwindi gorilla trekking tours are now popular and easily done. Here travelers fly into Kigali international airport and cross to trek gorillas in Uganda. Trekking mountain gorillas in Uganda has surely been challenging due to a full day of driving from Entebbe/Kampala to Bwindi or Mgahinga gorilla national park. This for the past decades has made Rwanda a stop center for most gorilla trekkers due to the ease of access to Volcanoes national park from Kigali international airport. However, Rwanda’s recent doubling of gorilla permit from 750 usd to 1500 usd has diverted most travelers’ attention to neighboring Uganda. The short distance to volcanoes home to Rwanda’s mountain gorillas has been one of the reasons for an increased number of travelers unlike Uganda were traveling to Bwind from Entebbe international airport would take full day travel. The good news is that short gorilla safaris are now possible in Uganda via Kigali Rwanda. On reaching Kigali international airport, travelers cross over to Uganda connecting to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park both in the Uganda Rwanda borders. its good news for Uganda that Kigali international airport has presently become a doorway to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park homes to the critically endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda. It was after Rwanda’s increased gorilla permit that tour operators realized Uganda’s potential to offer short gorilla trips through Rwanda.
Fortunately, it’s a 3-4 hours drive from Kigali international; airport to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park in southwestern Uganda. Bwindi is home to the highest population of mountain gorillas with over 480 mountain gorillas inhabiting there. Connecting to Bwindi from Kigali is through either Chanika border to kisoro district or Katuna border to kabale district in the south and north sector sectors of Bwindi respectively. Rushaga and Nkuringo are located in the southern sector of Bwindi hence easily accessible through Chanika border while Ruhija and Buhoma are easily accessed through Katuna border. This ease of access assures travelers the possibility to trek in any of Bwindi’s sectors which is a golden opportunity at a relatively low cost.
Besides Bwindi, gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in Mgahinga gorilla national park in kisoro district a home to the one Nyakagyezi family. It's amazing that the pearl of Africa Uganda is a shelter to over 480 mountain gorillas (half of the world’s total population) split into 13 gorilla families in different sectors 12 Gorilla families in Uganda live in Bwindi while 1 lives in Mgahinga gorilla national park. These families include Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, Bitukura, Oruzogo, Nkuringo, Nshongi, Mishaya, kahungye, Bweza, Busingye, Kyaguriro and Nyakagyezi all available for trekking.
Interestingly, a gorilla trekking safari to Uganda through Kigali is a saving opportunity for travelers especially budget travelers where Uganda’s permit is twice less the cost of a permit in Rwanda at 1500usd. A 2 days Uganda gorilla tour costs roughly 1300 usd, which include a gorilla permit, transport, accommodation, and any extra activity. This is far less to 1500usd, which only buys a single gorilla permit in Rwanda excluding accommodation and transport. The low cost of a gorilla permit has, therefore, made Uganda a savior for budget travelers who had been discouraged from trekking by the long distance.
To do a 1 day gorilla trek in Uganda, travelers wake up as early as 4:00 am to cross the border and catch up with a gorilla briefing in Uganda at 7:00 am. At the end of the trek, clients drive back to Kigali for a late return flight in case they are traveling back. For a 2 days Uganda gorilla trek, travelers transfer to Bwindi immediately after reaching Kigali which is an opportunity for them to take part in much extra activity such as a cultural visit to the Batwa or a forest walk, which gives them a pre trekking experience. The second day is for trekking and traveling back to Kigali for a return flight.
Luckily, a traveler with an East African visa can cross and travel freely to Uganda and Rwanda without any need to apply for a single visa in any of the two countries. Travelers from Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda can only present their national identities and are allowed to travel freely in any member of the East African community. An East African visa costs 100usd valid for 90 days hence no worry regarding the visas. All travelers with combined safaris to Uganda and Rwanda are therefore reminded to apply for an East African visa to save them costs of applying for separate entry visa Rwanda at 30usd and Uganda at 50usd. The east African visa does not work for those connecting to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In addition to gorilla trekking, Uganda offers a half-day gorilla habituation experience in Rushaga sector at a cost of 1500usd. A traveler can, therefore, opt for a four hours interaction with the critically endangered mountain gorillas instead of an hours trek in Rwanda at the same cost. Presently, 2 gorilla families of Bushaho and Bikingi both in Rushaga sector are undergoing habituation and four people visit each family every day.
other activities that can be done in southwestern Uganda besides gorilla trekking include a visit to Batwa and bakiga local communities, hiking the Virunga volcanoes in Mgahinga national park, boat cruise on Lake Bunyonyi, forest walks and city walks in kabale and kisoro towns. a combination of these makes your safari to Uganda through Rwanda an experience for a lifetime.
In conclusion, gorilla trekking in Uganda through Rwanda is an added advantage. Fly to Rwanda now and connect to Uganda for a memorable gorilla tour at a relatively low cost.