Gorilla Tours: Kigali to Uganda

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What a flawless, brilliant experience from start to finish. My partner and I wanted to do a short a self- drive gorilla safari tours from Rwanda to Uganda and found 4×4 Car Hire Uganda by good reviews on the internet. I sent an email and Moses, the owner promptly responded with several different options with different price tags.

The most economical option for us was to fly into Kigali International Airport, spend the night, then have Moses drop the car at our hotel in Kigali, and drive ourselves crossing the Cyanika border between Rwanda and Uganda to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda.

As indicated by its name, this small park is protecting the Uganda portion of the Virunga Mountains, on the border with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Three of these magnificent densely peaks lie within Mgahinga and that is Mount Muhavura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo and they can be climbed, but it is the mountain gorillas that are the highlight (as the name suggests).

Mgahinga is best known for the opportunity to track its habituated mountain gorillas. For years, this was a rather unreliable prospect, as the habituated group regularly crossed into Rwanda, sometimes for months on end.

However, although operators remain unwilling to take tourists here, the habituated group has actually remained within the boundaries of Uganda since 2013, which makes this a good place to try for a last-minute permit when Bwindi is booked solid.

Another good reason to visit Mgahinga, in my view, is the stirring setting provided by the Virunga Mountains, a chain of six massive volcanoes, some still active, that rise to elevations of up to 4,507m.

Activities on offer include the demanding hikes to those peaks that fall within Uganda, and tracking expeditions in search of the golden monkey, a delightful Virunga endemic that feeds mainly on bamboo. Other wildlife includes elephant, leopard, buffalo, black-and-white colobus monkey and at least 12 bird species endemics to the Albertine Rift.

Permits and lodging much cheaper in Uganda vs Rwanda. We did this, and it was spectacular. The Uganda gorilla permit is cheaper USD$700 than that of Rwanda gorilla permit at USD $1500. The hotel that was arranged by Moses, Mount Gahinga Lodge consisting of a main lodge and private rondevals spaced though out the beautiful gardens, we had our own chef and butler, and were at the doorstep to the national park.

On the day of gorilla trekking, we were prepared with our walking boots, gaiters, raincoat, a hat, sun glasses, insect repellent and a walking stick. It was raining on and off throughout the day.

The tracking is usually easier here too, but there are still long hills to climb. When we met the habituated group, it was far up the mountain, but hanging out in a small clearing the whole time rather than in thick forest, so we got great photos and we stayed with the gorillas for an hour while watching their daily routine. After the trekking gorillas we returned to the park headquarters to get our gorilla trekking certificates.

The next day we trekked the golden monkeys and the day started with a performance from a local heritage group. Then, we headed up on foot with our team of guides to locate the golden monkeys by foot. Total hiking time was about 4 hours at a leisurely pace. We also stayed with the Monkeys for an hour and stopped to have a packed lunch as well.

Porters are available to bring your packed lunch and you are encouraged to use them to contribute to the local community. The golden monkeys are adorable. We were able to capture some fantastic photos too. The trackers and guides really care for this endangered animal. The park itself seems very dedicated as well as a visit to the Batwa pygmy village.

We highly recommend 4×4 Car Hire Uganda services and would use them again in a heartbeat. Their prices were more than fair, and Moses really has experience regarding tours in Uganda and Rwanda and as with the self drive option and using the rooftop tent jeep you can explore both countries more affordable.

At first, we did a gorilla trek in the lodge and then for our last 3 weeks we had to experience our nights in the rooftop tents and it was so amazing as they give you opportunity in the wilderness. Well, from Mgahinga we drop down to Lake Mutanda an volcanic formed Lake and you will have the scenic view of this Lake. Later we visited Lake Bunyonyi where we spent some good days doing the canoeing and visiting to the local communities.

Least but not last we had to visit various parks like Queen, Kibale, Semliki, Murchison and Kidepo Valley National Park was our last point of visit in Uganda and we really recommend Uganda to be your next destination to visit come 2023.

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