Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi

Bwindi Mountain Gorillas in Uganda-Sectors in Bwindi, Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is found in the south-western part of Uganda near the democratic Republic of Congo situated on the border next to the Virunga National Park and on the edge of the Albertine Rift.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is best known for its Mountain Gorilla population’s .Despite the above, the park is rich in birds.

Amongst the numerous possibilities are no fewer than 23 of Uganda's 24 Albertine Rift endemics, including spectacular, globally threatened species such as Shelley's Crimson wing and the African Green Broadbill. Bwindi is one of the few in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age and it is home to roughly half of the world's mountain gorillas.

The park can be accessed by road and it is 520 Kilometres from Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. Normally for one to enjoy the journey, 4Wheel drives are recommended taking the below routes:

  • Move from Kampala-Kabale about 414 Kilometres, about 5-8 hours drive, then Kabale-Kanungu- Kanyantorogo – Buhoma Park Headquarters, about 120 kms, a 3.5 hour-drive.
  • Alternatively you can move from Kampala-Kabale about 414 Kms, and then proceed to Ruhija and finally to Buhoma which is 95 kilometres, a three-hour drive. From Queen Elizabeth National Park to the northern sector like 2 to 3 hours drives, from Kampala through Mbarara about 6 to 8 hours drive or from Kabale town to the southern just 1 to 2 hours. All those roads converge at Butogota, just 17 kilometres from the Buhoma entrance-gate.
  • A daily bus leaves Kampala for Butogota via Rukungiri and Kihiihi.You can get a taxi from here for about 20 km to Buhoma. Nkuringo has no public means unless when you hire a private vehicle from Kisoro.
  • For those on self drive, please consider a whole day since it may take you approximately 9-10 hours to drive on a winding road.
  • By Air, you can choose to fly from Entebbe or from Kampala at Kajjansi airfield to the up to date tarmac airstrip found at Kisoro. Additionally Planes may as well be chartered to the Savannah or the grass Kayonza airstrips.

Bwindi is actually well served by 3 airfields at Kihihi plus Kayonza for the northern area in addition to Nyakabande found in Kisoro for people going to track mountain gorillas within the southern area including Mishaya, Nshongi and Nkuringo.

For those coming from Kigali to Bwindi Forest park, Virunga express bus service has different bus terminals in Rwanda so board any Virunga bus from any part of Rwanda up to Kigali Virunga Express office in Nyabugogo Taxi Park.

They also have Virunga Express costa buses on routes from Gisenyi, Musanze and Butare daily from Kigali to Kabale at 3:00 pm (Rwanda time)

If you are in Musanze (Ruhengeri) board the Matatu to Cyanika-Rwanda-Uganda boarder and then contact carrentalrwanda company to pick you and proceed to the next destination.

The Southern Region of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a reasonable distance from Kigali Airport

As their name implies, mountain gorillas live in forests high in the mountains, at elevations of 8,000 to 13,000 feet.

Uganda’s Bwindi dense forest is a home to over half the world’s 1000 or so mountain gorillas (as of May 2018) - the rest live in the neighboring Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As they do not survive in captivity, preservation of these fragile habitats is essential for their survival.

They have thicker fur, and more of it, compared to other great apes. The fur helps them to survive in a habitat where temperatures often drop below freezing.

But as humans have moved more and more into the gorillas’ territory, the gorillas have been pushed farther up into the mountains for longer periods, forcing them to endure dangerous and sometimes deadly conditions.

Gorillas display uncanny human characteristics. The close-knit family groups are headed by a silverback - a mature male - who selects places for the group to eat and sleep, and has many privileges, including the right to feed first.

Generally though, the gorilla is a gentle species. They are considered to be highly intelligent, have been observed using tools like other great apes, and communicate using a variety of vocal sounds.

It’s very important to consider the easiest gorilla trekking conditions though rates are reduced in the low season.

The best time to come for gorilla trekking is during the two dry seasons of January, February, and from June, July, August and September.

Bwindi Gorilla Park gets some little rains even in the dry months though it clears immediately.

You can opt to trek gorillas in the low season since the gorilla permits are cut from $ 600 to $ 450 .Visiting in this season also means makes you enjoy the jungle with relatively low crowds. More so the accommodation facilities are not crowded.

Despite the weather conditions in Uganda, gorilla trekking can be enjoyed all year round. Contact us to organize a stress free gorilla tracking adventure in Bwindi Impenetrable forest

 

BWINDI SECTORS TO TRACK GORILLAS

Bwindi impenetratable forest has got 4 sectors where any gorilla tracker can enjoy his/her gorilla tracking activity while on a Uganda safari. All are open for gorilla trekking to tourists.

These sectors have different considerations whereby some are steeper and more challenging for gorilla tracking than others, some have more guerrilla groups than others while others have more lodging facilities to choose from. You can make your choice depending on your individual desires but in the end will attain a memorable experience regardless of the sector you visit for the Uganda gorilla trip.

These include:

  1. Ruhija Sector.

Ruhija sector is located in the Eastern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National park and has three gorilla families which include Bitukura gorilla family, Oruzogo Gorilla group and Kyaguriro group which is for research.

This therefore means that 16 gorilla permits are available every day and sometimes the research group is also trekked if you formally ask permission from UWA. Only 6 people instead of 8 people are allowed to view Kyaguriro research group. Due to the fact that, there few families in Ruhija, there is less congestion as compared to Buhoma which is more touristic in nature so Ruhija offers a more ecotourism experience compared to Buhoma.

Ruhija can be accessed from different directions. If you are coming from Kampala/Entebbe, it’s better to go through Kabale town and then proceed to Ruhija.

When coming from Kampala can branch off at Ntungamo to Rukungiri, Kihihi, Butogota then drive another two hours to Ruhija.

All these routes requires a Four wheel drive car as some sections of the road is rough, bumpy, dusty and during rainy seasons, they tend to get muddy. We have the needed tour vehicles for this adventure.

There no direct flights to Ruhija so the only option is to fly via Kihihi which ideally is on Buhoma side and then drive two hours to Ruhija.

You can as well land in Kabale town using charter flights and then drive to Ruhija.

Ruhija section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is popular for bird watching you might not find in other regions. The sector is also known for the Black and White Colobus monkeys that play all over the tree branches.

The accommodation facilities in the sector include those for budget and luxury tourists.

  1. NKURINGO SECTOR.

The Nkuringo sector is found in the southern sector of the Bwindi Impenetrable national park and the home to the famous Nkuringo gorilla family group which is believed to be the most interesting group to visit with 19 gorilla family members and yet the most strenuous group to trek while in Uganda.

A visit to the Nkuringo sector of the park, rewards visitors with great views of the magnificent scenery, landscapes of Kabale as well as the Nyiragongo and Nyimuragira of Congo.

Nkuringo also allows only 8 visitors to its gorilla family group in a day. The Nkuringo gorilla family group is neighboured by the Nshongi gorilla family group near the Rushaga area of the park.

Nkuringo is about 45 kilo meters from the sign-posted junction on Kabale to Kisoro road and it’s usually 3 hours from Kabale. Moving from Kampala, Nkuringo can be accessed via the Kabale –Kisoro road using a bus and this lasts between 11- 12 hours. At Kisoro you can opt to hire a private vehicle to the Nkuringo sector of the forest.

Nkuringo sector can be reached via the Buhoma via Kihihi or Butogota on the daily bus from Kampala. It is necessary to take a private hire taxi from either Kihihi or Butogota to Buhoma. And in the morning, enjoy a forest nature walk through the park to the Nkuringo sector which may last between 5 and 7 hours.

 Apart from Mountain gorilla tracking in this sector, you will enjoy a Forest Nature Walk normally done in the morning hours to and from the Nkuringo and Buhoma sectors of the Bwindi forest via the Ivy and Kashasha rivers bringing you to the Buhoma area by lunch time.

You can also visit the Batwa Pygmies, discovering more about their ways of life and their diverse cultural practices like hunting, fishing within the forest. They also entertain visitors with their traditional music and dance, storytelling etc.
While at this sector, visitors a treated to the best scenic and birding sights where they will have a ride on Lake Mutanda using the dugout wooden canoe to the other side enjoying the beautiful sights of bird species with in the forest at the same time viewing the scenic views of the Virunga Volcanoes Lying on the Uganda – Rwanda border.
c) RUSHAGA SECTOR

Rushaga region is located in the southern section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It is located in Kisoro District together with Nkuringo Region. It has several gorilla families which include Nshongi, Mishaya, Busingye, Kahungye and Bweza.
The Rushaga sector boasts the highest number of gorilla families and lies between Kabale and Nkuringo coming from either Ruhija or Kampala.

The region is dominated by high hills and because of this, habituated gorilla families have kept on separating and subdividing to take up different hills in the region.

Because of these hills, tourists who trek gorillas from Rushaga tend to enjoy great scenic views and at some points, you can as well see the Virunga ranges in Rwanda and Uganda that include Mgahinga, Muhavura, Sabinyo, Karusimbi, and Bisoke among others. There is Lake Mutanda which is one of the only two lava damned lakes in Uganda. You can enjoy a canoe ride on the lake before or after your gorilla trek.
Accommodation for those interested in trekking Rushaga Gorilla Families can be booked in Kisoro Town-Kisoro Travellers Rest Inn, Nkuringo Safari Lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Camp or even Clouds Gorilla Lodge.

If you are driving, please budget for a whole day since it may take you approximately 9-10 hours drive on a winding road.

If you are interested in flying to Rushaga, you can book a scheduled flight operated by aero link or charter flights by Fly Uganda among other companies in Uganda.
From Rushaga, you can continue to Rwanda, by driving to the nearby Uganda Rwanda Boarder at Chanika. From Kisoro town to the Uganda Rwanda boarder is a 15 minute drive but if you want to cross over to Rwanda then you need to have applied for their visa online at least two weeks before arrival.
There very many up market and budget accommodation facilities offered in the sector

  1. BUHOMA SECTOR

This sector is a pioneer of the gorilla trekking activity in Bwindi forest and Uganda in general. The sector was the first to host the first group of gorilla trekkers when Mubare gorilla family was opened for tracking in 1993.

Gorilla families habituated for tracking in this sector include; Rushegura, Mubare and Habinyanja.

It is in this sector where other walks have been developed including; the Munyaga River Trails in the valley of Buhoma, which is a short walk for viewing birds and primates along the forest edge.

The waterfall trail which passes beneath tree ferns, epiphytic ferns as well as orchids to visit three dazzling waterfalls.

The Buhoma community walk and cultural performances which takes up to three hours visiting a typical homestead, the traditional healer and a banana beer brewery is organized by the local community. Of recent, the Batwa cultural experience has been developed in this section of the park.

It is very easy to trek gorillas in the Buhoma sector. The drive takes you through Ntungamo and Rukungiri before connecting to Butogota and eventually Buhoma.

The accommodation facilities range from the top notch Gorilla Forest Camp, the luxury Buhoma lodge; Mid-range Silverback lodge and the Budget Buhoma Community Rest Camp.

Regardless of which gorilla sector to go to, Gorilla tracking in Uganda is an interesting activity not to miss while in Uganda.

Make sure you book a sector that is close to your booked gorilla tracking group. All will be awesome!

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