Comparing bwindi and Mgahinga
Comparing bwindi and Mgahinga: Bwindi and Mgahinga national park are the only places to meet mountain gorillas in Uganda and so comparing the two enables you to choose which one to visit and trek the endangered mountain gorillas. Both national parks are located in the southwestern part of the country harboring mountain gorillas that are said to be endangered in the world. The mountain gorillas in Bwindi and Mgahinga have attracted several travelers t these areas that want to spend quality time with the closest relatives to human beings.
Gorilla trekking is the most done activity in Bwindi and Mgahinga by the primate lovers. The activity can be done at all times of the year though the best time is always the dry season. Gorilla trekking activities in Bwindi are done on 19 mountain gorilla families while in Mgahinga it’s on one family. In this article, we are going to look at a comparison between these two national parks so that you get to choose which one to visit while on your safari in Uganda.
Comparing bwindi and Mgahinga
Location and getting there
Bwindi and Mgahinga national park are both located in the southwestern part of Uganda. Bwindi is located in Kanungu, Kabale, and Kisoro districts while Mgahinga is located in Kisoro district. Bwindi is located 330 kilometers from Entebbe international airport which takes 9-10 hours while Mgahinga is located 485km from Entebbe international airport taking 10 hours. If you are visiting bwindi from Kigali it takes 4-5 hours while for Mgahinga it takes 3-4 hours using Katuna border in Kabale or Kyanika border in Kisoro.
Number of mountain gorillas
When comparing the number of mountain gorillas in Bwindi and Mgahinga, Bwindi has the highest population of mountain gorillas compared to Mgahinga. Bwindi has over 19 mountain gorilla families and 2 semi-habituated mountain gorilla families while Mgahinga has 1 mountain gorilla family. The mountain gorillas of Bwindi live in the 4 sectors of the park which are Nkuringo, Buhoma, Ruhija, and Rushaga while the one of Mgahinga moves around the whole park.
Number gorilla permits
To trek gorillas in bwindi and Mgahinga you need a gorilla trekking permit. Bwindi has 19 mountain gorilla families which means the park has 152 gorilla trekking permits while Mgahinga has only one gorilla family which means the park has only 8 permits. Each fully habituated gorilla family is trekked by a group of 8 people. Bwindi has extraordinary permits which are for habituation and they are only 8 because 2 semi-habituated families are each trekked by 4 people.
Cost of gorilla permits
To trek Bwindi and Mgahinga you must need a gorilla trekking permit. The permits are bought from Uganda Wildlife Authority or from a trusted local tour operator at a fee of $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 foreign residents, and UGX250,000 citizens of East Africa in both Bwindi and Mgahinga. Mgahinga has no gorilla habituation permits but Bwindi has got them and a traveler can get them at a fee of $1500 for foreign non-residents, $1000 foreign residents, and UGX750,000 citizens of East Africa.
Booking gorilla permits
Bwindi and Mgahinga gorilla permits can be booked directly from the Uganda Wildlife Authority if you are ready to pick up the permits from their offices in Kampala. The permits for Bwindi and Mgahinga can still be booked through a trusted local tour operator. All you have to do is contact the local tour operator via email which must contain the dates of the month and year you want to travel. The information shall be used to check for the availability of the trekking permits with Uganda Wildlife Authority. Of the permits are available, you will be asked to send money and your permit will be booked.
Best time to visit
Bwindi and Mgahinga can be visited at any time of the year but there are months that are better than the rest. The dry months of June to September and December to February are the best to visit Bwindi and Mgahinga. This is because they are characterized by little or no rainfall that leaves the trekking trails dry, vegetation is short and thin giving clear views of the mountain gorillas, and the roads leading to the park are in good condition.
Travelers can still visit Bwindi and Mgahinga in the rainy season of March to May and October to November to enjoy huge discounts on accommodation facilities. The rainy season is however characterized by little or no rainfall that makes the trekking trails muddy and slippery, the vegetation is tall and thick with unclear views of the park animals and the roads leading to the park are impassable.
Bwindi and Mgahinga can be accessed using road transport and air transport. By air transport, Bwindi can be accessed by flying to Kihihi airstrip if you are to trek Buhoma region and Kisoro airstrip if they are to trek gorillas in Nkuringo, Rushaga, Buhoma, and Ruhija. Mgahinga on the other hand can be accessed by air transport by flying to Kisoro airstrip. The national parks can be accessed by road from kampala through Masaka, Mbarara, Ntungamo, Kabale and Kisoro
Bwindi has several accommodation facilities spread across the four sectors while Mgahinga has a few accommodation facilities. Bwindi and Mgahinga have accommodation facilities that range from budget to mid-range to luxury options with where to stay depending on a traveler’s budget. Some of the lodges in Mgahinga include Mount Gahinga Rest Camp, Mount Gahinga Lodge, Community Campground, and others are in Kisoro town which is 14kms away from the park. lodges in Bwindi include Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Lodge, Buhoma Lodge, Mahogany Springs Lodge, and Engagi Lodge among others.