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Home » National Parks in Uganda » Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park » Tourist Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park » Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Mountain gorilla trekking is the most rewarding tourism activity done at the park .The Mountain Gorillas are also star attraction in Bwindi and these have been habituated since April 1993.

Spaning in an area of 321kms of forested land, Bwindi is separated into four (4) gorilla tracking regions including Buhoma trekking region, Ruhija sector, Rushaga region and Nkuringo sectors.

In all the gorilla trekking regions, gorilla trekking experience stats very early in the morning when trekkers report to the park headquarters for an early morning registration and briefing from the senior rangers about the rule and regulations to follow when tracking the mountain gorillas in forested areas of Bwindi Impenetrable national park.

Buhoma Sector

This is the most popular gorilla trekking region in Bwindi. It is strategically located on the northwest part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the district of Kanungu. It is popular to many tourists because it was the first region where mountain gorillas in Uganda where first habituated and opened to be visited by tourists in the year 1993 .

Currently the region has three Gorilla groups that can be trekked by the tourist  and among these includes the oldest gorilla group that was first habituated in this region i.e. Mubare gorilla group which was first visited in the year 1993.

This first gorilla family in Bwindi  had  at first 18 members, however the group has lost its members reducing it to only 5 individual gorilla members which can be trekked by visitors on Uganda gorilla safaris.

The second gorilla group in this region is the Habinyanja Group that was habituated in the year 1997 and managed to attract its first visit in the year 1999 .The group has total number of seventeen (17) mountain gorillas inclusive of the two silver backs that lead the group.

Rushegura Group is the third habituated gorilla group in Buhoma. This specific gorilla group was habituated in the year 2000 and attracted its first visitor in the year 2002.  Currently it’s the biggest group within Buhom gorilla trekking region with 19 individual members including one silver back.

To complement gorilla trekking, Buhoma sector has developed well-coordinated hiking and nature walks trails and these including; the Munyanga River Trails in the valley of Buhoma- which is a short walk that rewards visitors with the views and sights of unique birds and primates species along the forest edge.

The waterfall trail passes beneath tree ferns, epiphytic ferns as well as orchids to visit three dazzling waterfalls. The Rushura Hill Trail, Muzabajiro Loop Trail and the River Ivi Trail, of which the latter follows an old road through the forest, emerging near Nkuringo on the southern edge of the impenetrable forest.

The Buhoma community walk and cultural performances which takes up to three hours leading visitors to different traditional homestead, the traditional healer and a banana beer brewery is organized by the local community. Within Buhoma one can also enjoy the Batwa cultural experience that has been developed of recent to enable tourists explore the interesting lift style of the Batwa community.

Buhoma region of Bwindi Impenetrable National park has different lodges ranging from luxury/Upmarket, Mid –range/Standard and Budget/basic accommodations. For instance Luxury lodges are Buhoma Lodge, Gorilla Forest Camp and Mahogany Springs.

Mid-range properties such as Engagi Lodge, Silverback Lodge and budget accommodation such as Buhoma Community rest camp and Bwindi View Lodge.

Nkuringo Region

It is one of the most famous gorilla trekking regions in Bwindi and it’s located on the southwest part of the Bwindi forest. This outstanding sector lies nest to Buhoma region at an estimated distance of about10km from Buhoma through the ancient Impenetrable forest .

Visit to the sector roughly takes visitors 4 hours walk. Due to the hilly nature of the land scape in Bwindi, connecting or linking by vehicle from Buhoma to Nkuringo takes about 7 to 8 hours’ drive due to the mountainous terrine of south western Uganda.

The habituated Gorilla Group/family that can be visited by trekkers here includes the Nkuringo Gorilla group. The group consists of 19 mountain gorillas and trekking it provides visitors with thrilling but hectic experience because the search for mountain gorillas takes one through the steep hilly forested land scape of Bwindi Impenetrable national park.

In this sector, there are other chances for one to explore the fascinating Bakiga culture through part taking in village walks.

The walks reward participants with vibrant dance performances and educative cultural workshops organized by community groups at Nkuringo Cultural Centre.

Ruhija sector –Ruhija region is one of the finest or the best gorilla trekking regions in Bwindi. It’s also safe paradise for birders in Bwindi because it houses wide-range of bird species. Spanning on the most remote areas in Bwindi, The region is positioned on the eastern side of the park but sitting on top of the hill at an approximated elevation of 2,345m.

Ruhija region is habitant or home to almost three Gorilla groups’ such as the Bitukura gorilla group, Kyaguriro and Oruzoojo Gorilla groups. The region is Uganda’s trekking trail located at highest altitude and it’s one of the only two regions in the park where elephants reside.

The region also has six-hour bamboo trail which takes tourists to Rwamunyoni Peak (2,607m,) the highest point in the whole of the Bwindi Impenetrable National park. The region is highly recommended to visitors interested in encountering mountain gorillas and unique bird life.

The advantage it has to bird lovers is that the trails in the region are endowed with rare bird species. For instance the three-hour trail which descends to Mubwindi swamp offers an opportunity for one to encounter the endemic African Broadbill species on thriving in Bwindi in the whole of Uganda.

Rushaga Region

This is located in the southeast of the Bwindi and it was opened for gorilla tourism in the year 2009 and easily accessed from Kisoro district. There are four Gorilla groups which can trekked in this area i.e. Nshongi Gorilla group, Mishaya gorilla group and Busingye gorilla group as well as Kahungye gorilla family.

The trail in this area leads visitors to the middle of the ancient Impenetrable forest straight to the south part of the park.

It lies between Kabale and Nkuringo for those coming from either Ruhija or Kampala. Rushaga regions as well as the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are perfectly situated at highest point in terms of altitude.

The region is commonly occupied/covered by high hills and this has resulted to subdivisions and separations of various habituated mountain gorillas in this area because the different groups have ended up occupying or taking up different hills found in the region.

The presence of steep hills in this region makes gorilla trekking bit more energy demanding since it requires hiking the hills when searching for mountain gorillas. However tourists who participate in gorilla trekking in this region are highly rewarded with great scenic views and sights of the Virunga Massifs both in Uganda and Rwanda.

In addition to memorable gorilla trekking in this sector, you will also have the opportunity to enjoy views of Lake Mutanda Uganda’s only lava damned lake franked in southwestern parts of the country.

Tourist Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Bird Watching in Bwindi, Bwindi Impenetrable forest is dubbed Bird watchers safe haven in Uganda. The park boasts of 350 bird species and houses 90% of all Albertine Rift Valley Endemics such as; the Short-tailed Warbler, Rusty-faced woodland Warbler, Bar-tailed Trogon, Gruer’s Rush Warbler, Wilcock’s Honey-guide, Yellow-eyed black Fly-catcher, Kivu Ground Thrush, Dusky Crimson Wing, White-tailed Blue Monarch among others, difficult or impossible to see in any other part of East Africa. An experienced bird watcher can identify up to 100 species in single day especially in the bird endowed areas of Ruhija and Buhoma.

Birding activities mostly done early morning in the park take place along the main trail, such as the Buhoma Waterfall Trail and along the bamboo zone and Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija region.. Read More

Cultural Encounter in Bwindi Cultural encounters are mostly done in the evenings after hectic gorilla trekking in the morning; you can participate in captivating traditional performances presented by Women’s groups, village walks, blacksmith visits, and craft shops. Proceeds from these go directly to improve the welfare of families around the park.

The activity allows you to explore the unique cultures of the local Bakiga and Batwa communities who are the traditional inhabitants of the areas covered famous Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park. Read More

Cycling/Moutain Biking in Bwindi Mountain biking is one of the interesting activities developing in Bwindi. This follows a well-established trail from the park headquarters at Buhoma to the Ivi River. Along this 13km trail you may see wildlife such as bushbucks, black-and-white colobus and red-tailed monkeys. The six-seven hour round trip departs in the morning, and is organized by Buhoma Community Rest Camp under the “Ride for a Woman “community development initiative. Read More

Hiking/Nature Walks In Bwindi, For those interested in nature walks and hiking, Bwindi Impenetrable national park has six (6) fantastic nature hiking trails. On all these 6 trails, one has rare chance to discover the wonders inhabited in the ancient Bwindi Impenetrable forest park. Along the trails, visitors are usually rewarded with the views and sights of the several bird species, butterflies, trees species, and some other primate species. Arrange at the reception for a guide. Read More

Tourist Attractions in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park Uganda

Mountain Gorillas, Mountain Gorillas are the major tourist’s attraction in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The park is natural home to an approximated total number of about 400 individual mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei), making it to be housing almost half of all the remaining mountain gorillas in the globe thriving in the wild. The other half of the mountain gorilla population is housed in the nearby Virunga Mountains distributed in three national parks of Mgahinga Gorilla Park in Uganda, Volcanoes in Rwanda and Virunga national park in Congo.

Birds, Bwindi Impenetrable forest park provides some of the finest/the best montane forest bird watching destination in the great African continent, and safe birding destination for any birder visiting Uganda. There are an approximated three hundred and fifty ( 350) bird species with twenty three (23) which are endemic to the Albertine Rift and fourteen species (14) which are not recorded nowhere else in Uganda.

Getting to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Bwindi can be accessed either by air from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip or by road from Kampala.

From Entebbe, there are scheduled flights to Kihihi which is close to the northern sector of Bwindi and also flights to Kisoro which is close to the Southern sector of Bwindi. Flights to Kisoro only leave in the morning while Kihihi has both morning and afternoon departures from Entebbe. You can also do charter flights from Kajjansi Airstrip to either Kisoro or Kihihi.

By road, there are alternatives that include;

Kampala-Kabale-Kanungu-Buhoma which follows a tarmac highway until Kabale for about 414km spending about 6-8 hrs and then connect on a murram road through Kanungu and Kanyantorogo for about 120km to Buhoma. For the latter route, it is highly recommended to have a 4WD vehicle and this journey can take about 4-5 hrs.

Kampala-Kabale-Ruhija-Buhoma which follows the same route as the above first option except the Kabale-Ruhija-Buhoma section is about 95km on a murram road and can take about 3-4 hrs also highly recommended to have a 4WD vehicle.

Kampala-Kabale-Nkuringo also follows the same as the above routes to Kabale and an additional 105km about 4-5 hrs drive on a mountainous murram road to Nkuringo from Kabale. Some people prefer spending a night in Kisoro which is about 80km from Kabale and in the morning proceed to Nkuringo for gorilla tracking.

Kampala-Ntungamo-Rukungiri-Kihihi-Buhoma is regarded as the quickest and most direct of all the routes from Kampala and follows a tarmac rout to Rukungiri about 390km followed by murram roads to Buhoma for about 82km.

There is also a route that goes through Queen Elizabeth National Park via Kihihi and to Buhoma passing through the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park famed for the tree climbing lions. Sometimes this route is not favored because of the bridge which keeps on breaking down.

Safari lodges in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Accommodation places in Buhoma Region

Buhoma sector is part of the Northern Bwindi forest block where mountain gorillas reside. Families that are found in Buhoma include Rushegura gorilla family, Habinyanja gorilla group and Mubare gorilla family.

Each of these families can easily be accessed when you spend a night or more at the various lodges that are located in this sector. It is advisable for visitors to know the gorilla group they intend to trek so as to determine where to spend the night to avoid long hour drives early in the morning to the briefing point.

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