After Gorilla Trekking Activities in Uganda and Rwanda
An overview of gorilla trekking in Uganda
Uganda is the only travel destination alongside her neighbours Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo where half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla species can be found. Over 400 mountain gorillas live in southwestern Uganda in two adjacent national parks- Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park.
The two national parks reward visitors with a stunning view of these great endangered apes not to mention the incredible photographic moment. The chance to stay around half of the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas alongside other magnificent forest species is incomparable to any. The incredible one-hour gorilla trekking experience in Uganda is one of those memorable experiences a visitor will cherish for a lifetime.
Why you should choose ‘after gorilla trekking’ activities?
Seeing mountain gorillas alone in a land dubbed the pearl of Africa is what in my opinion I call enjoying an ‘incomplete package’. There are more things to explore and do in Uganda that seeing mountain gorillas alone is just not enough for a Uganda safari. It is because of this that visitors are advised to add after gorilla trekking activities to make their travel experience to Uganda more enjoyable.
What after gorilla trekking activities can be enjoyed in Uganda?
Uganda has a variety of excursions which visitors can explore or do after they have tracked gorillas in southwestern Uganda. Here are some of the after gorilla trekking activities one can engage in while in Uganda;
- Gorilla habituation
Apart from gorilla trekking, Uganda is the only destination in the world which rewards visitors with mountain gorilla habituation experiences. These are only enjoyed at Bwindi impenetrable national park and have a longer duration compared to gorilla trekking. The activity allows visitors to observe the giant apes as they nest, copulate, feed among others together with primatologists. Therefore, visitors interested in spending long hours with the gorillas as they observe their behaviour are thus encouraged to go for gorilla habituation after gorilla trekking.
- Golden monkey trekking
After gorilla trekking in Mgahinga gorilla national park, visitors have an opportunity to also see golden monkey species at the park. Golden monkey trekking at the park to after visitors have tracked gorillas is a good add on for individuals who are interested in exploring a number of primate species while on their safari in Uganda. While at Mgahinga National Park, guests will trek a habituated troop of golden monkeys and enjoy a breathtaking adventure of watching these monkeys swing from one bamboo tree to another.
Mgahinga gorilla national park and Bwindi impenetrable national park are home to numerous bird species in Uganda. Bwindi impenetrable forest, for instance, is home to over 400 bird species which makes it an ideal place for bird watching activities after gorilla trekking in Uganda. The park has the highest concentration of birds in the region and is one of the leading bird-watching destinations in Uganda.
Most of the bird species can be spotted along the forest trails, the wetlands and around the thick bamboo forest usually with the help of the park guide. Some of the bird species include emerald, western green tinker bird, fine banded woodpecker, Kivu ground thrush, collared Apalis, common bulbul, African green broad bill, and chest-nut throated Apalis, among others. Birding is thus an ideal supplement to engage in after trekking gorillas in Uganda.
- Mountain hiking
After trekking gorillas at Mgahinga gorilla national park, a hike of one of the Virunga volcanoes would be an incredible add on to your Uganda safari. Mgahinga gorilla national park is not only home to mountain gorillas but also shelters three extinct volcanoes. These include Mount Gahinga, Mount Muhabura and Mount Sabyinyo volcanoes which offer visitors exceptional mountain climbing experiences in Uganda. Therefore, a hike to the summit of any of the volcanoes after trekking the mountain gorillas rewards guests with feelings of great achievement; spectacular views of the national park, local farms, neighbouring communities and so much more.
- Nature walks
After gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park, a visitor may go for a nature walk along any of the five main nature trails in Buhoma to explore the ‘impenetrable forest’. The trails include Muyanga waterfall walk, Rushura hill walk, Muzubijiro loop, Ivi river walk and Buhoma- Nkuringo trail.
These offer nature lovers with sensational sights of the falls, views of lakes Edward and George, the Virunga ranges, wild pigs and many others. The Habinyanja (Railegh) trail takes in a fairly steep ascent of the Habigorogoro and Riyovi ridge overlooking Buhoma River. Following the steep ascent, keen hikers can enjoy a more relaxed gentle slope of the mighty Habinyanja swamp.
On the other hand, a nature walk at Mgahinga gorilla national park after gorilla trekking through the forest to the deep Sabyinyo gorge provides good birding opportunities and a chance to spot the Rwenzori turaco.
The walk takes four hours and usually passes through the Rugezi swamp which is a fantastic spot for bird watchers. Nature walks towards the Congo border transcend different vegetation zones where hikers can cite the calderas on top of Gisozi hill, look out for Kisoro and Bunagana towns as well as the captivating Lake Mutanda. Therefore, going for a nature walk after trekking gorillas is undeniably a better way to view the national parks’ ecological systems.
- Chimpanzee trekking
There is no better ‘add-on’ activity to a visitor’s gorilla trekking adventure than tracking chimpanzees in Uganda. Uganda is a premier chimpanzee destination sheltering over 1500 chimps, offering out of the ordinary chimpanzee trekking experiences. Visitors after trekking gorillas may thus go for chimpanzee trekking in Kibale forest national park, Budogo forest or Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth national park where they will spend a one-hour lifetime adventure in the forest in the midst of our distant cousins.
- Game viewing
Game viewing at either Lake Mburo national park or Queen Elizabeth national park or other savannah national parks in Uganda is an interesting after gorilla trekking adventure. Game viewing in the parks rewards a visitor with numerous sightings of wildlife such as antelope species, buffaloes, giraffes, spotted hyenas, warthogs, and elephants among others.
Canoe riding (Boat cruise) along the shores of Lake Bunyonyi is an amazing after gorilla trekking adventure which offers a guest chance to view the terraced hills of Kigezi region as well as water-loving birds sailing above the lake. A visitor who chooses to visit the lake after gorilla trekking will also have an opportunity to spot lots of numerous islands, terraced cultivated fields, butterflies and many more.
A visit to the Batwa community is an exciting way to meet the local people- Batwa who are believed to have been the first inhabitants of the forest. This group of people lived in the forest for a very long time before they were relocated due to the demand to put up a reserve in order to conserve the mountain gorilla habitat. Visitors learn about the Batwa culture which is unique in nature including hunting, fruit gathering, collecting honey, collecting medicinal herbs, art and craft, as well as survival activities in the forest. Therefore, visiting these locals and learning how they build their traditional houses gives you an insight into the ancient way of life and how they lived harmoniously with wild animals. A cultural tour to the indigenous community is, therefore, the best way to complement one’s gorilla trekking safari in Uganda as you learn about African traditional norms, customs and belief.
Overview of gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Rwanda is one of the only three places where you can spot some of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. These gentle creatures live in Volcanoes national park North West of the country with an incredible spectacle of ten gorilla families can be toured by visitors. Trekking mountain gorillas is done early in the morning after enjoying a cup of coffee alongside a traditional performance. Visitors are later briefed by a game ranger, after which they embark on the adventure to trek gorillas.
What after gorilla trekking activities are enjoyed in Rwanda?
- Golden monkey trekking
Volcanoes national park is home to golden monkey species although the park is famed for mountain gorillas. The park has two habituated troops of golden monkeys with each having over 80 members that can be tracked by visitors. Thus, after trekking gorillas, visitors can go golden monkey trekking at the park since it is both a rare and delightful experience while on safari in Rwanda.
- Cultural tours
A cultural tour to Iby’Iwacu cultural village is unforgettably an incredible adventure to explore after gorilla trekking in Rwanda. Iby’Iwacu cultural village offers a rare opportunity to meet the local people who were formerly mountain gorilla poachers, but currently reformed mountain gorilla ‘protectors’. Visitors to the village enjoy a moment of interaction with the local people, learn their traditions and beliefs, and take part in their daily activities.
With performers are committed to showcasing their ways of living, dances, drama and traditional lifestyles a cultural tour to Iby’Iwacu is an amazing after gorilla trekking activity. Iby’Iwacu village is located around Volcanoes national park in Nyabigoma, Musanze district.
Hiking to the top of Mount Karisimbi or Mount Bisoke is one of the keys after gorilla trekking activities one shouldn’t miss on their safari at Volcanoes national park. Hiking any one of the two volcanoes after trekking gorillas is a strenuous activity yet very rewarding.
The climbing starts early in the morning taking over six hours, while navigating through the Bisoke side. Hiking Mount Bisoke is one of the most memorable activities to adventure while at Volcanoes national park. The top of the volcano has a spectacular crater lake. The Mount Bisoke hike lasts for six hours including the two hours for descending to the starting point.
On the other hand, a hike to Mount Karisimbi’s summit is quite challenging but offers sights of several bird varieties, primates among others along the hiking trails. It requires relatively good health and stamina to hike through the slippery slopes to reach the summits. Interested hikers are advised carry hiking equipment and hire a porter to help one carry luggage.
Birding is another after gorilla trekking activity that can be enjoyed at volcanoes national park. Around 178 bird species have been recorded and twenty-nine endemics to the Albertine rift at Volcanoes national park. Keen birders are able to spot a number of bird species at the swamp area, the forest and around the twin lakes- Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo.
Birding begins in the morning with a briefing, after which a trained guide leads the visitors to the unique birding areas at the park on a quest of spotting the incredible bird species. Some of the bird species that can be seen include the African marsh harrier, common moorhen, long-crested eagle, grey throated tit, handsome Francolin, Rwenzori turaco, Grauer’s rush warbler, Archer’s ground robin, Rwenzori double- collared sin bird, collared Apalis, strange weaver and many others.
- Genocide memorial tours
For many people, a trip to Rwanda without touring the genocide memorial sites is counted an incomplete tour. It is because of this that after gorilla trekking visitors are encouraged to tour any of the genocide memorial sites. Rwanda’s genocide sites were established to honour the lives of the people who were slain to death in the 1994 genocide.
After this great massacre, Rwanda established about eight memorial sites to commemorate and provide a decent burial to the deceased citizens. Learn about Rwanda’s tragic 1994 history after trekking gorillas from any of the following genocide memorial sites which include; Murambi genocide memorial site, Gisozi memorial site, Gisenyi memorial site, Nyamata memorial site, Bisesero memorial site, Nyarubuye memorial site, Nyanza memorial site, and Ntarama memorial site. These will shed light on the historical events that led to the genocide and horrifying realities Rwandans faced in just 100 days in 1994.
- Canopy walks
Canopy walks at Nyungwe forest in Nyungwe national park located 220km approximately six hours drive from Kigali are another incredible after gorilla trekking activity. The park is a paradise to hikers and the only one of its kind in East Africa offering canopy walk excursions.
Canopy walks in Rwanda offer visitors an opportunity to explore the country’s awesome scenery as well as expose the parks beaming landscape while on a walk on a rope bridge suspended 50 meters above the ground. It is a spectacular tour of the rain forest and an ideal supplement to your gorilla safari in Rwanda.
Finally, there are several after gorilla trekking activities visitors can enjoy in both Rwanda and Uganda. However, these activities require one to have enough time to explore them while on a gorilla safari.