The best places in Africa where you can go gorilla trekking and spend unforgettable moments with wild gorillas are Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National Parks in southwestern Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda, Virunga National Park and Kahuzi-Biege in eastern DRC at the border with Rwanda and Uganda. These parks have decent accommodations close to the trekking centers and offer immersive amenities to give visitors the best experience in the tropical forests.
Where To Go Gorilla Trekking in Africa
Let’s closely examine which park you would choose to go gorilla trekking on your next African safari vacation.
1. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda
Bwindi is arguably the best place to go gorilla trekking in Africa because it balances ease of logistics, price, and lodging availability with the highest number of gorillas to attract the most tourists. In addition to being biologically diverse, the 331 sq km UNESCO World Heritage Site protects about 500 mountain gorillas, and a trekking permit is just $700, less than half the one for Rwanda.
The park is also home to a wide variety of other wildlife, including chimpanzees, monkeys, elephants, and over 350 species of birds. Its main attraction is tracking mountain gorillas and nature hiking.
To go gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, visitors book gorilla permits ($700 per person) for any of the four visitor centers around the park and join the daily early morning small trekking groups with local rangers and trackers. Once they find a gorilla family, rangers allow visitors to watch the gorillas for one hour at a monitored distance, observing several conservation rules.
In addition to gorilla trekking, there are many other activities to enjoy in the park. Visitors can take guided nature walks to explore the forest and learn about the various plant and animal species that call it home. Several cultural activities are also available, including visits to local communities to learn about their way of life and traditions.
The forest itself is a marvel to behold. It is one of Africa’s oldest and most biologically diverse forests, with over 160 species of trees and over 100 species of ferns. The dense forest canopy provides habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, including 11 primate species, many of which are endangered.
The park is about 310 miles from the International Airport, which can take about 10-11 hours to drive. However, most people enjoy the country drive for its gorgeous landscapes through Switzerland-like undulating mountain landscapes to get to the gorilla forest. Alternatively, one can avoid the tiring drive and take the 1-hour domestic flights between Entebbe International Airport and two small airports (Kisoro & Kihihi), about a 1.5-hour drive outside Bwindi.
In conclusion, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a unique and extraordinary destination that offers visitors the chance to see the most extraordinary wildlife and natural landscapes. It is the best place to go gorilla trekking in Africa, with immense cultural and ecological significance. Bwindi is a prime example of successful conservation efforts. It is a must-visit African destination for anyone interested in wildlife, nature, and conservation and will leave a lasting impression on all tourists who visit.
2. Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Volcanoes National Park is Rwanda’s tourism diamond with some of the most successful conservation programs, especially on primates and community sustainability for Rwandan people. This Rwandan gem is one of the unmissable places to go gorilla trekking in Africa, with some of the most luxurious lodges scattered outside the trekking center.
However, compared to its contingent gorilla parks and impenetrable Bwindi, Volcanoes National Park is the most expensive gorilla destination, with a trekking permit costing up to $1500 per person. The park has some of the most costly lodges charging an exclusive room up to $4000 a night. But there are other cheaper options in the trekking centers for visitors that can still stomach paying the high permit cost.
The 160 square kilometers park is part of the larger Virunga Conservation Area, including national parks in the neighboring Uganda and DRC. Volcanoes National Park was named after the five dormant volcanoes that dominate the landscape, including Mount Karisimbi, the highest volcano in the Virunga range. The park is also home to several other primate species, including the golden monkey and a wide variety of bird species.
Although the main attraction to Rwanda’s Volcanoes is gorilla trekking, visitors can take guided nature hikes through the forest and join cultural activities available, including visits to local communities to learn about their way of life and traditions. The other main attraction in the park is tracking the endangered golden monkeys found only in this area. Trekking excursions in Volcanoes occur very early in the mornings in small tourist groups led by rangers and local trackers. Visitors can spend only an hour with a gorilla group once they find it and will observe strict conservation rules during their trek.
Volcanoes national park is about a 3-hour drive from the International Airport in Kigali. Most visitors will spend a night in Kigali to check out its cultural scenes and two nights in the park and go gorilla trekking in one of the mornings.
Overall, Volcanoes National Park is a unique primate forest that offers visitors the chance to go on a once-in-a-lifetime gorilla trekking experience in Africa. It is of incredible importance to conservation efforts. It is where you should go for gorilla trekking experiences in Africa, seeing fascinating wildlife, nature, and conservation.
3. Mgahinga National Park, Uganda
Sitting at the base of three Virunga Volcanoes (Mt Muhavura, Mt Gahinga, and Mt Sabinyo), Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in southwestern Uganda, on the border with Ruanda and DR Congo, is one of the best forest reserves in Africa to go gorilla trekking and see mountain gorillas. A gorilla permit in Mgahinga costs $700 per person, like in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
The 33.7 square kilometer park is part of the larger Virunga Conservation Area, including the neighboring Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda and Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The park’s diverse range of wildlife includes several primate species, such as, of course the biggest attraction, endangered mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, and various species of monkeys and baboons.
Like other national parks in the region, gorilla trekking excursions in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park begin in the early morning in small tourist groups led by local trackers and rangers. The trek can take anywhere from a couple of hours to an entire day, depending on how close the gorilla group is to the starting point. Once the gorillas are found, visitors can observe them from a safe distance for one hour.
In addition to gorilla trekking, there are many other activities to enjoy in the park. Visitors can take guided nature walks to explore the forest and learn about the various plants and animal species that call it home. Cultural activities are also available, including visits to local surrounding communities to experience their way of life and traditions.
Access to Mgainga is similar to Bwindi; 310 miles from Entebbe International Airport, which would take about 10-11 hours to drive. However, visitors can take domestic flights between Entebbe and Kisoro, a small airport about an hour’s drive from the park.
4. Kahuzi-Biege National Park, DRC
Kahuzi-Biega National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in eastern DR Congo, is one of the best places to go gorilla trekking in Africa. The 2,300 sq mile park is home to the eastern lowland gorilla, one of the rarest and most endangered gorilla subspecies.
Although the park offers the cheapest gorilla permits, the park is a real adventurer’s dream destination with immersive forest experiences tracking primates, such as colobus monkeys, baboons, and chimpanzees, as well as forest elephants, bush pigs, and several species of antelope.
The once-in-a-lifetime gorilla trekking experience in Kahuzi-Biege is similar to that in other eastern national parks, but the park has eastern lowland gorillas, the ones you see in zoos, not mountain gorillas.
Visitors can reach Hahuzi-Bienga through Rwanda’s Kigali International Airport and then transfer to the park via Goma or Rusizi border. Through Burundi, one can take a 3-hour drive to the Rwanda Ruwa border and drive to Rusizi. It’s the shortest route, although it involves border crossing. From Goma International Airport, visitors can drive 5-6 hours to Kahuzi Biega, but this route’s security is fragile and should be avoided.
Plan your gorilla trekking safari
Now that you know where to go for gorilla trekking in Africa, let’s help you plan your ideal trip, process your permits, organize your transport, meals, accommodation, and other Africa safari activities. Our local consultants who understand the local logistics can save you from the planning nightmare and give you an unforgettable experience in Africa. Send us an email to get a FREE quote right now at firstname.lastname@example.org.