The Four Gorilla Trekking Sectors in Bwindi National Park
The Four Gorilla Trekking Sectors in Bwindi National Park
THE FOUR GORILLA TREKKING SECTORS IN BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the two parks in Uganda harboring mountain gorillas alongside Mgahinga National Park. Half of the world’s total gorilla population resides within the park with over 600 gorillas, making it one of the popular destinations for gorilla trekking. It is one of the oldest parks located in the south western part of Uganda, covered with thick vegetation composed of thickets, shrubs and trees that are difficult to penetrate through hence being dubbed an impenetrable forest.
The gorilla trekking sectors are evenly spread across the park with locations in the North, South and East. Each one of them is unique in terms of accessibility, altitude and experience offered. During the habituation process, gorillas get to spend some time in each of the different sectors. There is an interconnection between them though they are in different locations.
Most tourists are more interested in visiting this sector while in Bwindi, located in the North near Kanungu District and easily accessible from Kihiihi and Kayonza airstrips or by road on a 7-9 hours’ drive from Kampala / Entebbe.
Buhoma was the first sector to be visited by tourists for gorilla trekking because the first habituated gorilla group Mubare was found here in 1992 which also happens to be the year in which Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was established and declared as a National Park.
Trekking in Buhoma sector offers an exceptional experience as its closer to the Ishasha Sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park known for tree climbing lions and therefore after gorilla trekking, tourists can take a short drive Ishasha and get an opportunity to glance at one of these lions.
Buhoma sector has five gorilla groups including the very first habituated group – Mubare, others are Habinyanja and Rushegura.
Mubare is the oldest family has 9 family members, Habinyanja was open for visits in 1997 and currently has 17 members and Rushegura with the highest number of members at 19, this group was habituated in 2000.
Only 40 permits are available for issuance to tourists per day because each gorilla family is visited by a group of only 8 people per day.
While gorilla trekking in Buhoma Sector, you get to enjoy other activities such as bird watching and the area is home to various birds like blue Turaco. You could also carry out community visits to the Batwa pygmies who were the first inhabitants of the forest and Bakiga communities. Get to see how they go about their daily lives such as preparing food, babysitting, local brewing of alcohol etc.
Buhoma sector has one of the best luxurious accommodation facilities though there are also those that are quite affordable and budget friendly. These include Mahogany Springs lodge, Ride for a woman lodge, Bwindi havens, Bwindi guest house, Buhoma lodge and many more. All these lodges have trails leading to the park headquarters and therefore tourists can always catch up on a short brief before embarking on a gorilla trekking journey.
In the East lies one of the coldest parts of the park standing at 2,350 meters above sea level. Ruhija sector is home to four gorilla families – Oruzogo, Kyaguriro, Mukiza and Bitukura meaning only 32 permits are available for tourists per day. Due to its high altitude and rugged terrain, trekkers are advised to carry along heavy clothing such as jackets and be physically fit for the trek.
It offers one of the most adventurous hikes, during the treks you get to hike to Rwamunyonyi peak and also come across other primates like monkeys and animals like forest elephants. Bird watching can also be done with about 23 bird species including hornbills, dusky crimson, grey bush shrike to mention but a few.
Accommodation facilities within the area include Gorilla mist camp, Bakiga lodge, Tavern Lodge, Agandi lodges, etc. These facilities are affordable and are fully equipped with professional and hospitable staff. Due to the cold conditions, nights are colder and therefore warm water is provided to keep you comfortable throughout the night. Wake up within the wild as you listen to the singing birds.
Found in South-eastern part of the park, habituation of gorillas is done here before they are transferred to other sectors. It offers the highest number of permits with 5 fully habituated families which are Bweza, Nshongi, Busingye, Kahungye and Mishaya.
While in Rushaga sector, you can visit the Batwa community who have lived in the forest for over 500,000 years, take part in the nature walks and watch birds. You can also visit the families still undergoing habituation where you get to spend over 4 hours with them. A boat cruise can also be enjoyed on Lake Mutanda near this sector. This area also offers one of the best scenic views of the park.
A number of lodges offering exquisite services are available such as Rushaga Gorilla havens lodge, Four Gorillas Lodge, Chameleon hill lodge, Ichumbi lodge among others.
It’s located in the southern part of the park and famously known for the Nkuringo gorilla family that stays within the area. The family is led by Rwamutwe and has over 10 members each with fascinating behavior.
Nkuringo area is located at a higher altitude and therefore requires some moderate level of fitness to access it. Only one group of people is allowed to trek gorillas within this sector. Easily accessible by road via Kabale – Kisoro Road or by air through Kisoro airstrip. Get to enjoy other activities such as bird watching, visiting the local Batwa and Bakiga people and take part in activities like cultural dances where you can also buy souvenirs from craft shops such as baskets, bags to supports them financially and boost their livelihoods