Mountain Gorilla National Parks

Mgahinga NP

Mgahinga NP /Uganda/

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The smallest, but possibly greatest, of Uganda’s national parks boasts three Virunga volcanoes: Muhavura (4,127m/13,540ft) with a lake at the top, Mount Gahinga (3,474m/11,398ft) with a swamp-filled crater, and Sabinyo (3,669m/11,959ft) where three countries meet. If you track mountain gorillas here you are a member of a special club. One habituated gorilla group means only eight visitors per day. The park’s closeness to Kisoro Town makes it very interesting to budget travellers.

Park entry costs USD 40 for non-resident foreigners, USD 30 for resident foreigners and UGX 20,000 for East Africans. Children (5-15 years) pay USD 20 if they are non-residents, USD 10 if they are residents and UGX 5,000 if they are from East Africa. Primary/secondary school groups are charged UGX 3,000 per student. University/tertiary school groups are charged UGX 5,000 per student.

Activities in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

• gorilla tracking (includes park entry fees): foreign visitors USD 700; foreign residents USD 600; East Africans UGX 250,000

• golden monkey tracking: foreigners USD 60; East Africans UGX 40,000
• golden monkey experience: foreigners USD 100; East Africans UGX 100,000

• Batwa Trail Experience (includes park entry fees): foreigners USD 80; East Africans UGX 50,000

• hiking: one day climbs of Mt Muhabura (4,127m/13,500ft), Mt Gahinga (3,474m/11,400ft) and Mt Sabyinyo (3,669m/12,037ft) and others — for the details and prices see below …

Volcanoes NP

Volcanoes NP /Rwanda/

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Volcanoes NP; photo by Marcus Westberg

Near Musanze Town, Volcanoes National Park shares three volcanoes with Mgahinga and adds two more: Karisimbi (4,507m/14,787ft) and Bisoke (3,711m/12,175ft). It has 12 habituated mountain gorilla groups.

Activities in Volcanoes National Park

• gorilla tracking: USD 1,500 — discounts valid till 31 December 2022: families 15% discount (couples and children over 15 years old); foreign residents USD 500; Rwandans and EAC citizens USD 200; other nationals of Africa USD 500
• golden monkey tracking: foreign visitors USD 100; foreign residents USD 65; East Africans USD 55; Rwandans RWF 4,000; students RWF 2,000 — discounts valid till 31 December 2022: 10% off for individual travellers, 15% off for family visits
• hiking: one day climbs of Mt Bisoke (3,711m/12,175ft), Mt Muhabura (4,127m/13,500ft) and Mt Gahinga (3,474m/11,400ft), a two-day climb of Mt Karisimbi (4,507m/14,787ft) and others — for the details and prices see below …

Virunga NP

Virunga NP /DR Congo/

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looking into the lava lake; photo by Marcus Westberg

UPDATE, DECEMBER 2021: Virunga National Park is not currently open for tourism.

The oldest national park in Africa has staggering environmental variety: from the Congolese side of the Virungas through the savannah up to the permanent snow on the Mountains of the Moon i.e. the Rwenzoris (5,109 metres/16,762 ft). It includes Sabinyo, Karisimbi, Bisoke, Mikeno (4,437m/14,560ft), Nyamuragira (3,058m/10,031) and Nyiragongo (3,470m/11,400ft). Tourists can visit six mountain gorilla groups here, and they usually start their tracking from Goma/Gisenyi.

Other activities:
• climbing the active Nyiragongo volcano and spending a night there
• chimp habituation walk
• Tchegera Island overnight (Lake Kivu)

Activities need to be booked as a package (you cannot just do gorilla tracking, for example).

Bwindi NP

Bwindi NP /Uganda/

Shortcuts to Articles: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

The steep valleys and high ridges of Africa’s oldest rainforest hide much more than just mountain gorillas. Some of the highlights of different Bwindi gates:

• Buhoma: most accessible gorillas, nature walk to three waterfalls
• Nkuringo: spectacular views of the Virunga volcanoes
• Ruhija: nature walk to the bamboo zone or the big swamp that gave Bwindi its name, best birding
• Rushaga: largest number of habituated gorilla groups, the longer gorilla habituation experience, occasional visits of elephants

Park entry costs USD 40 for non-resident foreigners, USD 30 for resident foreigners and UGX 20,000 for East Africans. Children (5-15 years) pay USD 20 if they are non-residents, USD 10 if they are residents and UGX 5,000 if they are from East Africa. Primary/secondary school groups are charged UGX 3,000 per student. University/tertiary school groups are charged UGX 5,000 per student.

Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

• gorilla tracking (includes park entry fees): foreign visitors USD 700; foreign residents USD 600; East Africans UGX 250,000

• gorilla habituation experience (includes park entry fees): foreign visitors USD 1,500; foreign residents USD 1,000; East Africans UGX 750,000
• hiking: crossing the national park and nature walks — for the details and prices see below …

Batwa Activities in and near Bwindi

• Batwa Forest Experience in Rushaga (includes park entry fees): foreigners USD 40; East Africans UGX 40,000

• Batwa Forest Walk in Nkuringo

• Batwa Experience in Buhoma

Community Walks in Buhoma

Community Walk in Rushaga