Comparing Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda & Congo
Gorilla trekking is one of the most rewarding travel experiences for many travelers around the world. For interested travelers, there are only three countries in the world that offer the best choice for you to achieve that long term dream. Your travel option should be centered on Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Each destination has advantages and disadvantages when it comes to gorilla trekking experiences and in most cases, travelers are inspired to visit both mainly to compare experiences thereafter. It is a bit confusing when it comes to choosing best destination to track mountain gorillas but most importantly, all the three countries are worth visiting for mountain gorilla trekking. Visitors should bear in mind that, there less than 900 rare mountain gorillas that are still surviving in the world and viewing in them in their natural habitat is such an inspiring travel experience of a kind.
The comparison between gorilla trekking in Rwanda and DRC is highlighted below. We hope this information will guide you in your decision making!
Rwanda lies in East Africa and it is surrounded by the Democratic Republic of Congo to the West, Uganda to the North, Tanzania to the East and Burundi on the South. It is one of the famous destinations of all the three countries specifically for gorilla trekking. Rwanda is an icon for mountain gorilla protection and conservation given the efforts that Dian Fossey invested during her research and advocacy work. Dian Fossey was a popular primatologist and zoologist that made mountain gorilla conservation a success around the Virunga volcanoes and this partly explains why gorilla trekking is most treasured adventures for most of tourists visiting Rwanda. DRC on other hand is situated in central sub Saharan Africa and it is surrounded by Angola, South Atlantic Ocean, the Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania across Lake Tanganyika and Zambia.
Mountain gorilla tracking in Rwanda takes place in the Volcanoes National Park. The park lies in North Eastern Rwanda and it is bordered by the Virunga National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda. The park is renowned to offer refuge to a third of all mountain gorillas that are inhabited in the Virunga volcanoes. The Volcanoes national park has ten habituated gorilla families that offer visitors opportunity to view the rare mountain gorillas in the wild. Unlike Virunga National Park, DRC about 200 mountain gorillas are estimated to live in its dense tropical rain forest and only eight habituated gorilla groups are available for visitors to track mountain gorillas. Tracking mountain gorillas in the Virunga national park, is the most breathtaking adventures of all the three countries and yet also remains unexploited destination where visitors can explore authentic gorilla experiences in the jungles. A few travelers have visited the Virunga national park for gorilla experiences and this means that it is not over crowded like the Volcanoes national park in Rwanda where thousands of the tourists flock on gorilla habitat daily.
The advantage Rwanda has over DRC is based on its distance, where visitors only spend about 2-3 hours to drive from Kigali Airport to the Volcanoes National Park to track mountain gorillas. In most cases, tourists can arrive and even proceed for gorilla trekking; in most cases visitors spend less time and travelers who don’t need to spend a lot of time in East Africa find it interesting visiting Rwanda unlike DRC that serves travelers who need to spend a longer time. Rwanda has direct flights from Nairobi in Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro to Kigali which facilitates visitors’ arrival on time to track mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes national park.
A gorilla permit is a major requirement in both countries where gorilla trekking occurs but the difference comes in regarding their costs. In Rwanda, gorilla trekking permits cost $1500 per visitor whereas in DRC the gorilla permits are moderately affordable at $ 450 per tourist; this cost also applies to the Eastern Lowland gorilla experience at Kahuzi Biega National Park!! For Eastern Lowland gorillas in Kahuzi national park, there are more than 4 habituated gorilla groups that visitors go to track the gorillas every day.
Besides gorilla trekking, Rwanda also offers strenuous adventures to travelers especially hiking to the Dian Fossey Tomb in the Volcanoes national park whereas in the Virunga National Park, tourists can do Nyiragongo volcano hike. The permits for Nyiragongo volcano hike cost $300. It is interesting combining your gorilla trekking safaris with hiking experiences from the Nyiragongo volcano.
Safety and security:
Gorilla trekking in Congo has been affected by insecurity which the country is still recovering from unlike Rwanda where there is a bit of peace and stability visitors can track gorillas safely. With insecurities in DRC, mountain gorillas and their habitats are destroyed which scares away the species and this explains why many of them cross the borders to Uganda and Rwanda to seek refuge. The insecurity doesn’t affect only the life of mountain gorillas but also the visitors’ safaris because visitor’s safety is main priority in any destination.
In conclusion, gorilla trekking is the most strenuous and sought after experience in the world. For interested travelers, you should be physically fit to hike. Both Rwanda and DRC offer fascinating gorilla experiences in the world. You can visit either Rwanda or DRC for gorilla trekking or both so that you compare experiences thereafter.