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Uganda or Rwanda?

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I am planning a trip of four months to Africa, and had planned on visiting Uganda and Rwanda as part of the trip. However, the months are filling up and we are looking at maybe leaving one or the other out. We will be doing safari elsewhere and have no interest in adventure sports. We would like to go gorilla trekking, I am interested in the history of Rwanda and we like treks, natural landscapes etc.

Any guidance on choosing one over the other would be great?

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    Hi emcer, what a stunning opportunity to travel in Africa for months!

    Between Uganda and Rwanda, the experience can vary quite dramatically. At the end of the day, you’ve got to keep in mind that you will reach your objective of seeing the mountain gorillas – either way you choose, I don’t think you will walk away disappointed.

    My personal preference is Rwanda. In addition to the gorillas, as you mentioned, the historical component of this country is gripping (not to say that Uganda isn’t historically interesting, but Rwanda’s more recent history and how the country has recovered is remarkable). The Genocide Museum is worth a visit for sure and should be included as a part of your trip.

    As for comparing the gorilla experience, I’d have to say that Rwanda is more scenic than Uganda. You’ve got the stunning landscape of Volcanoes National Park (VNP) and generally speaking, there is less “bush whacking” (the bush in Uganda is a bit ticker making the “hike” a bit more challenging – they don’t call it Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for nothing!). However, in Rwanda, you will likely be hiking at higher elevation. If aren’t cardio fit, Rwanda’s higher elevation may pose some challenges (some groups will go as high as 10,000ft). If the thought of potentially hiking at 10,000ft is daunting, the park authorities can allocate you a family that is easier to trek – in short, during the 7AM briefing at VNP HQ, you can select the group that you wish to trek and they can advise you based on your fitness level.

    If you have time to extend your trip in Rwanda, you can also trek the golden monkeys from VNP and also consider adding Nyungwe Forest to round off your primate experience with chimps.

    Good luck to you in your trip planning and wishing you an amazing journey.

    Sincerely,
    Kota Tabuchi – Managing Director: Africa – Travel Beyond

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    I only know about Uganda. It is a LONG car ride to get to the park--12 plus hours--and the roads aren't good. Once we were in the park, the walk to see our family was only 15 minutes long and the gorillas were waking up and climbing down from the trees. Mothers had babies on their backs. Silverback sat on a log across a stream and beat his chest to hurry the females. It was magical! My husband and I had 5 park workers accompanying us with no other tourists. There was a leader, 2 people to carry our water, and 2 people carrying AK47's.

    Two young British English teachers walked several hours to see their family.

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    We have not been to Uganda (have friends who did and loved it). The reasons we chose Rwanda were:

    1) The drive to the national park from Kigali was only 2.5 hours vs. much longer drive from Kampala to the Bwindi forest. These are very expensive countries to visit and our time was limited (following a Tanzania trip of 11 days)

    2) I have a soft spot in my heart for Rwanda because the movie Hotel Rwanda had a big impact on me and the shocking events of 21 years ago (not that Uganda doesn't also have sad history also. We were interested in seeing something of the country and cultural experience in addition to the gorillas.

    We only spent 3 full days (4.5) in Rwanda but were very impressed. The landscape is beautiful It was election day and polling places were everywhere along our route. Turn out is high there. The roads up to the mountains were excellent.... People on foot everywhere, beautiful colorful clothing, markets. The country is very clean and seems to have healed. Children said hello to us everywhere but never with a hand out as we saw in Tanzania. We are not naïve to the underlying tensions and politics (have done a lot of reading on the subject) but we felt very safe and see they have much to be proud of. The Genocide Museum was a must for us and we were very moved. We also visited an amazing shelter and program to help boys who had been on the streets called Les Infants des Dieu (non-profit, non-religious) and spent two hours with their director and some of the boys in leadership positions. There are not many orphanages in Rwanda because their progressive government recognizes that foster care is better for children and (having been to SE Asia) we already knew that "orphan tourism" is not a good thing for children. We even spent our first night at the beautiful Hotel des Mille Collines (which was the subject of the movie, though you'd never know while there). Wish I could afford to go again!

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