Differences and similarities between gorilla trekking at Bwindi forest & Mgahinga gorilla national park
- Size: Mgahinga is a small park (33 sq. kms) compared to Bwindi national park, which is 331 kms 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 lies in the boarder of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Whereas Bwindi boarders with the DRC and three other districts of Uganda (Kisoro, Rubanda and Kanungu)
- Number of habituated gorilla groups. Mgahinga has one habituated gorilla group (called Nyakagezi) compared to Bwindi NP which has up to 15 groups. Bwindi also has four trekking gates at Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga. Bamboo Ecotours clients tend to trek either Rushaga or Nkuringo. These two locations are closer to the Rwandan boarder for people travelling to Uganda via Kigali or via Kisoro airport.
- Gorilla trekking experience: Mgahinga group is relatively easy to get too compared to Bwindi where 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. I haven't heard any safety concerns for the time I have worked in the Uganda tourism industry for the last 10 years.
- Distance from Kisoro town: Mgahinga park is 14kms from Kisoro town (about an hours drive due to unpaved road) compared to Bwindi (southern sector at Rushaga or Nkuringo), which is about 35kms away. It takes about two hours to drive from Kisoro town to Bwindi Rushaga gate
- Lodging options. At Mgahinga gate, you have one budget lodge called Amajambere Community Camp and one luxury lodge called Mt. Gahinga Lodge, owned by Volcanoes Safaris. At the Bwindi gate, there are more choices for lodges. However, one can stay in Kisoro town and trek at either parks.