UGANDA & RWANDA
Trekking the endangered Gorillas
UGANDAThe mountain Gorilla and the Grauer’s Gorilla are critically endangered. The world’s remaining mountain gorillas live in three countries spanning four national parks. The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and the Virunga National Park in the Congo. The Grauer’s gorilla is endemic to the forests of the Albertine Rift in eastern DRC. Mountain gorillas usually live in groups of up to 30. Sadly, only around 800 gorillas still survive in these wild mountain forests and there is a general 5% decline per annum of the eastern gorillas. Apart from the forest degradation and political instabilities in these countries, the continued human encroachment poses serious threats to the critical eastern gorilla habitat.
Uganda lies on the East African plateau in the Nile basin. Climate varies depending on where people live. It is a landlocked country but has many large lakes, including Lake Kyoga, Lake Albert, and one of the world’s biggest lakes, Lake Victoria, in the south. Lake Victoria is so massive; it prevents the temperature from varying and helps to increase rainfall.
Uganda is home to deep lakes, stunning waterfalls, towering mountains and incredible forest wildlife. It is one of the world’s best kept natural secrets but receives far less visitors than its neighbouring countries. It has the highest concentration of primates on earth, including the mountain gorilla – now one of the rarest animals on the planet. There are just under 800 mountain gorillas left in the world and over 460 of them reside in Uganda – mainly found in the beautiful Bwindi Forest - a UNESCO World Heritage site situated in the southwest corner of Uganda. The park is 331 square kilometres large and impresses with its volcanoes, jagged valleys, waterfalls, lakes and dramatic mountain ranges. It also hosts the rare forest elephant, giant forest hog and eleven kinds of primates, including the red tailed and blue monkey, the black and white colobus, baboons and chimpanzee.
Gorilla trekking is an exciting bucket list safari in the Bwindi Forest while Chimpanzee trekking is available in the Kibale National Park. Tracking through dense forest with steep slopes means that you do need to be physically fit. Once the gorillas are located, you spend a maximum of one hour with them before returning back to camp for a wonderful rest.
Best time to go on Safari
The majority of the country has a tropical climate which varies according to altitude. Best time for Safari is December to March & June to September
- Hottest months: December to February, when temperature reaches 29 degrees Celsius but it can get very cool at night.
- Wettest time: Rainy seasons are from April to May and October to November, with the wettest month being April
How to get there
International Flight to Entebbe, Uganda International Airport
Alternatively: International Flight to Kigali, Rwanda and per road to Uganda
Flight transfer: Entebbe to Kigali airstrip – 1hr 45mins
- Kampala to Bwindi – 10 hours
- Kigali (Rwanda) to Bwindi – 8 hours (weather dependent)
A maximum of 15 kg / 33lbs of luggage per person in soft-sided bags is allowed.
Rwanda is also a small landlocked East African country and shares its borders with Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Over the last number of years, Rwanda has evolved into one of the African continent's safest and most stable countries. Its infrastructure is good, its picturesque capital Kigali is booming, and its mountainous landscapes are some of the world’s most spectacular ones.
Rwanda offers fascinating nature and game reserves that includes beautiful savannah, rolling hills and deep valleys, as well as plentiful wild and birdlife.
Its renowned Volcanoes National Park is located mere two hours’ drive from Kigali’s International Airport. The park is home to the endangered eastern mountain gorillas and golden monkeys and is one of the best locations for tracking the elusive mountain gorilla. The park is stretched along the Virunga Mountains, with 8 ancient volcanoes, including the 4,507m-tall Mt. Karisimbi and 4 other forest volcanoes, which are shared by Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Park is also one of Rwanda’s most significant conservation centres, where many non-profit organizations base their operations. Travellers can also pay a visit to the legendary scientist and gorilla advocate Dian Fossey with a hike to her tomb or a visit to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund that continues her legacy of research and advocacy to this day.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is believed to be one of Africa's most ancient forests, and its untouched wilderness provides a home for many primate species - including Chimpanzees, Colobus monkeys and golden monkeys.
The Musanze’s caves, closely found to the Nyungwe National Park, date back 65 million years and lie within the volcanic region where lava flow layers long ago created the Albertine Rift Valley. The caves is an easy hiking 2km in distance and have brilliant views of cascading lights from the surface, unique rock formations, and a colony of bats.
When it comes to birding, Rwanda is amongst Africa’s most exciting destinations. Birding is experienced throughout the year, with the migrant bird season being from December through to February. There are over 1450 bird species of which 27 are Albertine Rift endemics. Rwanda has seven Important Birding Areas (IBAs) including the three National Parks—Volcanoes, Akagera and Nyungwe. The other IBAs are at: Rugezi Swamp, Akanyaru, Nyabarongo and Cyamudongo.
How to get there
Kigali International Airport (KGL) is the main portal for most overseas visitors. It's located approximately 3 miles/ 5 kilometres from the centre of the capital, and is served by major airlines including Qatar Airways, South African Airways and KLM. Alternatively, busses offer overland routes between Rwanda and its neighboring countries.
Best Time to travel in Rwanda
Despite its equatorial location, Rwanda's high elevation means that the country enjoys a surprisingly cool climate. Although averages vary depending on where you're going, there is very little difference between seasons in terms of temperature.
Rainy Season – March – May, October - November
- North West Rwanda has two rainy periods; from about March to May and then again over October and November.
- Although around the Volcanoes National Park rain can fall at any time of the year (and often does), it is these two periods when rain can be expected and when it does, it falls in relatively heavy downpours, usually occurring in the afternoons.
- The landscapes are lush and green, and ideal photographic conditions.
Dry Season - Jan, Feb, June- September, December
- During the two seasonal dry periods in North West Rwanda day time temperatures can be warm and sunshine bright.
- While rainfall is not common it is possible at any time of the year, although far lighter in nature. The rainfall and the associated cloud cover help to moderate temperatures.
The best time to visit Rwanda runs from June to August, being the driest of the year. June and July are the best months, while usually from the second half of August the rains start to get a bit more frequent.
Citizens of most countries need a visa to enter Rwanda. Nationals from a handful of countries including the U.S. and the UK can purchase a visa on arrival. Check your visa requirements on the Rwanda Immigration website or contact us.
Places to stay in Rwanda & Uganda
At Denonanje Safaris, we are focused on offering you a once-in-a-life time experience with our well organized gorilla trekking tours in Rwanda’s and Uganda’s mountainous forests. At the same time, we will handpick the most suited and comfortable lodges and camps which blend into their natural and cultural environment. All accommodation is so located that you can enjoy magnificent scenic views and can relax during your gorilla trekking adventure! All these lodges take great care of the conservation of the gorilla and its environment. Your presence at these lodges will strongly contribute to this valuable cause.
Contact to customize your safari and find the most suitable and secluded destination for you.