Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable National Park is according to area but each area has interesting features. Buhoma area, Ruhija area, Nkuringo area and Rushaga area are the composition of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi forest is a huge tropical rain forest covering about 327square kilometers of land. Since this is a vast forest with flawless vegetation that has tangled over 25000 years traversing it is a challenge. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in rugged Kigezi highland of southwestern Uganda. This area protecs a continuum of forest that ranges from montane to lowland areas.
The rich fauna and flora of Bwindi forest that grapes over a deeply fissured landscape making has to cross from one area to another led to the formation of four gorilla safari areas for better and quicker administrative purposes. Bwindi forest’s altitudinal variation and its location within the Albertine Rift is what makes it a rich habitat for fauna and flora. Four areas form Bwindi forest that is Buhoma area in the north, Rushaga in the south, Nkuringo area in the south and Ruhija arein the east.
Each of the four gorilla trekking areas is unique with superb views and rich features within. Buhoma area is the main administrative area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park but for better administration, other areas were created to help monitor the work and activities in the park.
Each of the Bwindi forest areas has different categories of accommodations graded according to luxury, mid-range and budget facilities.
What Is Unique About Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Areas?
A part from being the main administrative area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Buhoma has some of the first gorilla families to be opened to gorilla trekking booking. Buhoma area is located in the valley of Munyenga River at 1550 mters above sea level.
Gorilla trekking is the main activity of Buhoma area but at the moment three gorilla families are confirmed. Mubare gorilla family was opened in 1993 for gorilla trekking by then with 10 members by 1998 mountain gorillas Habinyanja group was opened to public booking and later Rushegura family was opened to public booking in 2002. At the moment, Buhoma area still hosts the same number of gorilla families.
In the past, gorilla permits were booked according to gorilla family and permits for Buhoma area used to sell like hot cake. Buhoma area is the premier gorilla trekking safari area. Of Bwindi forest.
Buhoma area also offers a variety of other activities to combine with gorilla trekking like the Buhoma local community visit where you immerse into the life of the ordinary people. You can privately hike some of the ridges in Buhoma to enjoy the beautiful Bwindi forest canopy. During the community walk, you may visit a homestead, a traditional healer, banana brewery, enjoy a local dance group and music on arrangement.
Keen birders can take part in birding while in Buhoma area even from the look through your window. Bwindi forest hosts birds like Western Green Tinkerbird, Mountain and Yellow streaked Greenbuls, African Hill Babbler and others.
While in Buhoma area of Bwindi, you can take part in a wide range of guided nature walks for a more relaxing experience where you can spot numerous birds and others primates. You may follow the Munyanga River trail with its amazing bird life and a variety of primates as you walk beneath tree ferns, epiphytics and others. The waterfall trail, Rushura hill trail where you enjoy the superb view of the western rift valley, Lake Edward and Mountain Rwenzori
Taking the Muzabajiro loop trail to the top of Rukubira hill gives you the beautiful view of Bwindi forest, rift valley and the Virunga Volcanoes. River Ivi trail you cross through beautiful forest to Nkuringo on the southern edge of the forest. Keen birders can use this opportunity.
Ruhija area contains untouched vegetation cover of rain forest. From its ridge top, you enjoy the dense canopy of Bwindi forest. Ruhija gorilla trekking area so far has a number of gorilla families that is Oruzogo gorilla family, Bitukura, Kyagurilo family and Mukisa area.
Keen birders have an opportunity to spot a wide range of birds as Ruhija area is key highlight Bwindi forest birding destination. Chances of spotting of spotting both forest and grassland birds are high in Ruhija area.
When you take a 3 hour’s hike to Mubwindi swamp, you may spot birds like Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori Batis Flycatcher, Red-faced Woodland Warbler and others. When you take the road towards Kabale you ascend gradually through fine montane forest with micro habitats in form of send undergrowth vegetation around landslides and along streams.
Enjoy great panoramic views while in Ruhija area when you walk through bamboo zone to enjoy Afromontane vegetation and panoramic views towards Lake Bunyonyi and Mafuga forest.
Ruhija area can also offer you chance to watch other wild animals duikers, other primates like blue monkeys, grey cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkeys, black and white colobus, olive baboons and others.
Nkuringo Gorilla Safari Area Of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Nkuringo gorilla area lies on the southern edge of Bwindi Forest . The Nkuringo trailhead is located on isolated Nteko ridge which enjoys grandstand views across Bwindi Forest to the north. While in Nkuringo area, the view of Virunga volcanoes also comes into sight because it lies in the southern part of Bwindi forest.
Gorilla trekking is the main activity in Nkuringo area and at the moment, Nkuringo gorilla family, Muhozi family and Christmas gorilla family are the fully habituated families in this area. While on a gorilla trekking adventure in Nkuringo area, you hike into the steep valley of about 600 meters deep so you must have some level of fitness.
A visit to Nkuringo community is exceptional where you get the opportunity to engage with rural homestead, blacksmith, may have a taste of local brew, visit a traditional healer and others.
Birding in Nkuringo area is possible too for keen birders. This area has a number of bird species including Albertine rift endemics that traverse the forest all day. You may spot a number of montane forest birds in Uganda. You may spot Handsome Fancolin, Cinnamon chested Bee Eaters, Rwenzori Batis and others.
By taking the River Ivi trail, you can enjoy a nature walk where you may get the chance to spot other primate species like black and white colobus, red-tailed monkeys, grey cheeked mangabey, olive baboons to mention but a few. You follow an old road through Bwindi Forest to Buhoma and vice versa. Keen birder on this Nkuringo Nature walk can use this opportunity to spot a variety of birds.
Rushaga Gorilla Trekking Area
Places in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is Rushaga gorilla safari area. At the moment, Rushaga has 8 fully habituated gorilla families Nshongi family, Mishaya family, Kahungye family, Busingye family, Mucunguzi family, Bweza family, Rwigi family.
While in the southern part of Bwindi forest, which is composed of Nkuringo and Rushaga area, you can do gorilla habituation experience. Gorilla habituation experience is an adventure where you escort a team of researchers in the wilderness to follow a semi-habituated gorilla family and stay with them for four hours. Maximum 4 tourists are allowed with the mountain gorillas so that they can later carry on with the running of there day today life.
Birding in Rushaga area of Bwindi forest us superb too. Even from the balcony or peep through your room window, you can identify a variety of birds including Albertine rift endemics. You can enjoy excellent forest birding and chances of spotting the rare and localized Albertine Rift endemics are high. While in Rushaga area, you may get to enjoy a plethora of birds species at mixed feeding flock that are active all day especially mid-day. You may spot Montane Masked Apalis, Red faced woodland Warbler, Rwenzori Batis, Strange Weaver and so many others.
How Can I Book Bwindi Gorilla Permits?
To book gorilla permits for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park you must have a date and the number of people you hope to travel with. This assists with checking gorilla permit availability. Gorilla permits are sold according to first come first served basis but none is reserved without payment.
You can use a tour operator like Arch Safaris And Tours to help purchase the gorilla permit for you. We can tailor your gorilla safari itinerary too to fit in all your activities according to your time on holiday. Our tours consultant is ready to put together your dream gorilla safari to make this holiday come life.
Alternatively, you can directly purchase it form Uganda wildlife Authority but you need to be patience with the long que of calls to the reservation office.
For comfort, purchase your gorilla permit as soon as you find positive availability because they are sold out fast. The limited number of gorilla permits allowed to public booking per day yet demand surpasses supply makes it challenging to find a gorilla permit at the last minute. The peak season which is normally June, July, August, September, December and January is when gorilla permit demand is extremely high.
Forward some personal details too for identification like your full names as presented on the passport, date of birth, nationality, passport expiry date and others. These are added to your gorilla trekking permit card and retrieved on the day of the trek.
How Secure Is Gorilla Trekking In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?
Each gorilla trekking party is conducted by experience and well trained ranger guides. The tourists must attend briefing before the gorilla trek so as to go through the guidelines of when you are in the forest searching to find the mountain gorillas.
Although rules and regulations of gorilla safari are all over different medias and platforms, there are traits for each individual gorilla family that you may need to understand before proceeding with the trek. This explains why attending briefing is compulsory for every tourist but to learn more about how the new discoveries about the mountain gorillas.
At least two rangers escort each group of tourists in the wilderness one holding a machete to trim overgrown vegetation. Another ranger guide carries a rifle in case of an attack from other forest dwellers.
The ranger guide follows the pace of the slowest trekkers so that no one is forgotten in this pristine jungle where you may have no trace of how to get out.
Tourist are advised not to move into the forest without an escorting ranger guide or diverge from the rest of the group and wander into the wilderness without informing the ranger guide.
How long Is Gorilla Trekking Adventure in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?
The time of the gorilla safari is unknown as its dependent on mainly factors prevailing in the forest like the proximity of the feeding spot for the mountain gorillas, in case the gorilla family in adventurous, death of a dominant silverback, weather conditions prevailing in the day and others.
The pace of tourist also contributes to the time spent in the wilderness on a gorilla safari. Some times tourist have found the mountain gorillas in two hours while others have spent even more time. Upon locating the mountain gorillas, only one hour is allowed with them. This is because they are habituated to be in-front of humans for just that time to allow them carry on with the running of there day to day life.
Tourists are requested to have some level of patience and have an open mind while you trekking to find the mountain gorillas. That moment with the mountain gorillas is heart melting especially when you stare deep into the eyes of these gentle giants. You may get to forget all you may have gone through while trying to plan for the gorilla safari.
Is Gorilla Trekking In Bwindi Strenuous?
Gorilla trekking is surely strenuous because of the nature of the terrain where Bwindi Forest lies. Bwindi forest is rugged resulting from volcanic action that led to the formation of ridges , fissured valleys and plateaus where mountain gorillas may spend some time.
In case the gorillas are on the slopes, you may have to hike to find them which is strenuous at times. Even crawling under the dense creepers may expose you to stinging nettles that cause you to get skin irritation.
Wearing the right gorilla safari gears and having some level of fitness protects you from getting frustrated while on a gorilla trekking safari.