Uganda or Rwanda 2015

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Oct 5th, 2014, 07:30 AM
  #1
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Uganda or Rwanda 2015

Hi, my husband and I are wildlife photographers. We have traveled to Africa several times, but 2015 will be our first trip to see the gorillas. We have been leaning towards Uganda to experience both the chimps and gorillas, but the gorillas are our prime interest and we were reading a lot of things that say the gorillas are generally easier and better to see and photograph in Rwanda because of the more open habitat and larger gorilla groups. My question - is this true?
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Oct 5th, 2014, 06:10 PM
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Here is a bit of what I wrote on a recent thread, in response to a question about the difficulty of the hikes, but I'll add some other comments: I recently did two gorilla hikes; one was in Rwanda, and it proved to be straight uphill for 2 hours, and very hard on my old knees. This was despite asking for an easier hike. The gorillas just aren't always where they are expected to be, and our group headed to the top of the hill for an afternoon nap, which is where we finally found them, mostly sleeping. The group was small and the photography conditions were quite disappointing after the long hike. I think we were unlucky, and of course the gorillas are just not predictable.

In Bwindi (Rushaga), we asked for an easier group and got one -- a lovely walk around the edges of a valley. It was still a challenging hike, but shorter and more varied. Beautiful terrain. It involved more horizontal walking than relentless uphill climbing. And we found a great group of gorillas out in the open. Photography conditions were stunning. A large active group out in the open sunlight! This time, we were very lucky. I think it might easily have gone the other way.

A few years ago, I did two gorilla hikes in a different part of Bwindi and the groups were large with great viewing conditions. I think people love their experiences in both Rwanda and Uganda, and you can't go wrong.

That said, I would not want to miss the chimps experience. On both trips, I did the all-day chimp habituation experience, and it was amazing to spend an entire day with these wonderful primates. For me, the chimp habituation rivaled the gorilla hike. (I also really enjoyed the golden monkeys in Rwanda). As you might guess, I'm pretty interested in primates, and I think Uganda offers a wider range of opportunities in this regard.
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Oct 6th, 2014, 06:42 AM
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Thank you for your reply - very helpful. The chimp habitauation sounds like a great experience, and if we go to Uganda we will definitely include that!
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Oct 6th, 2014, 06:50 AM
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numbat - do you think there is an area of Bwindi that is better for trekking gorillas than other areas? Seems like a lot of the lodges are in the Buhoma area, including Gorilla Forest Camp.
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Oct 6th, 2014, 11:06 AM
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I think there are more gorilla groups, and a wider range of lodging, in the Buhoma area. That's where I did my first two hikes, a few years ago. On my more recent trip, we based out of Rushaga because that combined better with Rwanda and the logistics of our trip (On an efficient add-on to a Kenya trip, we flew into Kigali and out of Entebbe and were trying to reduce driving times). Buhoma is more developed and Rushaga seemed more remote, but I loved the setting and we stayed in a nice lodge there -- Gorilla Valley Lodge, I think was the name. If I went back, I'd probably try the third area! I also love birds, and the birding around that area is spectacular. If you are working with an agent, a lot will depend on timing and where they can get permits. So you might have more choices if you are planning far ahead, but usually they say not to book your lodging until you know where you have your permits. There are a lot of experts on the Uganda forum at tripadvisor and also on safarinet who can provide advice about the different groups and lodges... Uganda is a bit more complicated than Rwanda because there are three bases for hikes and more choices.
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Oct 15th, 2014, 04:29 AM
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Hi - i cannot speak about the gorillas in Uganda, we visited them in Rwanda and got very close with plenty of good photo opportunities. The gorillas don't always obey the 5m rule, and at times they sneak up on you from behind when you are looking elsewhere. My wife had the silver back brush pass her leg when it suddenly decided to move to another bush!

We watched chimps in Uganda at Kibale - a very traumatic experience! More info here - http://ugandarwandaholiday.blogspot....ly-chimps.html
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Oct 16th, 2014, 10:31 AM
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" but the gorillas are our prime interest and we were reading a lot of things that say the gorillas are generally easier and better to see and photograph in Rwanda because of the more open habitat and larger gorilla groups. My question - is this true?"

I would say yes based my experience of numerous gorilla visits in both Uganda and Rwanda. But yes by a modest degree, not night and day. Luck is a factor too.

You can also see chimps in Nyungwe in Rwanda and huge troops of Angolan Colobus Monkeys. But chimp viewing was better in Kibale (especially the habituation excursion) than Nyungwe. Better yet for chimp viewing/photography is Mahale in Tanzania.

Combining Uganda and Rwanda is not hard; I have done it twice. Once I used 2 different companies, one for each country. Once I used Volcanoes Safaris, which does both countries.

If you tell us how much time you have, maybe you can incorporate the best of the chimp and the gorilla worlds.
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