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While Rwanda fills a niche for the highest of high-end gorilla tourism, Uganda has positioned itself as a less-costly alternative. Gorilla trekking there costs $600 per day in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (Uganda’s portion of the Virunga Massif) or farther north in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The country’s accommodations and overall infrastructure aren’t at the same level as Rwanda’s, but lower prices reflect this.
Only one habituated gorilla troop resides in Mgahinga, the Nyakagezi group, but the animals are so approachable and charismatic that you’ll likely know all 10 by name and their idiosyncrasies by trek’s end. To meet the Nyakagezi family, stay at Mount Gahinga Lodge, a simple-yet-charming and authentic six-banda retreat by Uganda’s leading lodge company, Volcanoes Safaris, that lies in walking distance to the national park. Guests can participate in its many community projects, including the new Batwa Vocational Centre & Resettlement project, a major endeavor to relocate and provide jobs for Uganda’s marginalized Batwa people. From $275 per person per night, volcanoesafaris.com.
More info: ugandawildlife.org
Tracking chimpanzees in their natural habitat, as they swing from the branches in the canopy high above the forest floor is nothing short of exhilarating. The chimps effortlessly cross and scamper through the trees above the gorge, and visitors on the other hand must cross the river using natural bridges in order to keep up with the chimps. So although the walk usually lasts only 2–3 hours, descending the steep gorge and crossing the log bridges over the river requires some agility and fitness.
Chimpanzee tracking is also available in nearby Kalinzu, a forest reserve 30 minutes drive from Kyambura Gorge Lodge where there is a community of about 40 habituated chimpanzees.