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Differences and similarities Bwindi gorilla trek & Mgahinga

Echuya Forest Reserve, Southwestern Uganda
Echuya Forest Reserve, Southwestern Uganda
Differences And Similarities Between Gorilla Trekking At Bwindi Forest & Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mountain gorillas are found in two national parks in Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Both parks are home to more than half of the remaining world’s mountain gorillas. The rest of the gorilla population in Virunga National Park in DR Congo’s Virunga National Park and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

Bwindi, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is very diverse with hundreds of animals, plants, and mammals. The park is a habitat for colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, geckos, and various species of birds. Mgahinga, on the other hand, is the only national park in Uganda where golden monkeys and mountain gorillas live in harmony with nature. This harmonious relationship between mountain gorillas and golden monkeys in Mgahinga is popularly referred to as “Mgahinga, where gold meets silver.” 

Here are other notable differences and similarities between gorilla trekking at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi National Park.

  •  Size: Mgahinga is a small park (33 sq. km) compared to Bwindi national park, 331 km sq. Both parks were created at the same time in the early 1990s. The parks are separated by community farmlands stretching about 50kms.
  • Location: Mgahinga Gorilla National park lies on the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Whereas Bwindi National Park borders with the DRC and three other districts of Uganda (Kisoro, Rubanda, and Kanungu)
  • Habituated gorilla groups. Mgahinga has one habituated gorilla group (called Nyakagezi) compared to Bwindi National Park which has up to 15 groups. Bwindi National Park also has four trekking gates at Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga. Bamboo Ecotours clients tend to trek either Rushaga or Nkuringo since it’s much easier to secure gorilla trekking permits, plus Rushaga and Nkuringo are closer to the Rwandan border for visitors travelling to Uganda via Kigali or via Kisoro airport.
  • Gorilla trekking experience: Mgahinga group is relatively easy to compare to Bwindi as you are likely to hike a few hills and valleys to get to the gorillas. We have heard from some of Bamboo Ecotours’ clients that they enjoyed trekking at Mgahinga because the forest is not too dense, making it easy to spot the gorillas and take good photos. The gorillas in both parks are the same, though.
  • Safety and security: Both parks are very secure for trekking. 

Distance from Kisoro town: Mgahinga national park is 14kms from Kisoro town (about an hour drive due to unpaved road) than Bwindi (southern sector at Rushaga or Nkuringo) is about 35kms away. It takes about two hours to drive from Kisoro town to Bwindi Rushaga gate.

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