Located in north of Bwindi Impenetrable national park, Buhoma is the oldest and most popular of all other four gorilla trekking sectors. Buhoma sector was the first to host a gorilla tracking group when it was opened for trekking in 1993. Mubare gorilla family was the first family to be habituated and open for tracking. Other gorilla families in this sector are; Habinyanja, Rushegura and the recently introduced Katwe group.
Situated in the northern part of Bwindi in Kanungu district, it’s the park’s most visited sector as compared to the other three sectors. This can be attributed to a few factors like:
The ease to access Buhoma from Kabale and Kihiihi airstrips. Buhoma is also nearer to Queen Elizabeth national park on your way to or from the Ishasha sector, home to the famous tree climbing lions.
Buhoma sector has more choices of accommodation compared to other sectors in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Lodges available include Buhoma Lodge Gorilla Forest Camp, Mahogany Springs, Engagi Lodge, Bwindi Volcano Lodge, and Silverback Lodge while those wishing for a camp experience can opt for Buhoma Community Rest Camp.
Being the first sector where gorilla tracking started, Buhoma attracts several projects that visitors can engage in to participate in several gorilla conservation activities on ground. For example gorilla habituation experiences, community empowerment programs, women programs, cycling, nature / forest walks, birding and many others.
The sector is gifted with four fully habituated gorilla families and these include;
Mubare gorilla family. This family is also known as M-group, it is the first gorilla group ever to be habituated in Uganda in 1991. It was first tracked by visitors in 1993. The group derives its name from the magnificent Mubare hills where the group was first sighted. The family initially had 12 members but with the death of Ruhondeza the family dropped to five members but with the rise of Kanyonyi, the group has steadily increased again to 9 members.
Habinyanja Gorilla family. Habinyanja family or Group H has a beautiful story behind it. It was first led by Mugurusi (loosely translated as Old man) at the time of its habituation. After the death of Mugurusi, the family was left in the hands of his two sons “Rwansigazi and Mwirima.”
In 2002, Mwirima broke away from his brother Rwansigazi to form Rushegura because Mwirima preferred to roam in the same area where as Rwansigazi loved adventuring distant places.
Makara is the leading Silverback now succeeding his father Rwansigazi following his demise. The other members include Maraya the black back, Nyabuche, Nyamuhango, Binyonko, Rukundo, Kisho, and Rugyendo the adult females, Kavuyo the sub adult male and Ruyombo the sub adult female, Malaika, Elisa and Hamusini are juveniles.
Rushegura gorilla family. Also called R-group, Rushegura is one of the biggest gorilla families with up to 21 members; including one silverback, five adult females, one black back, six juveniles, two sub adults and six infants.
This family was first habituated in the year 2000 and in 2002 it received its first visitors. Tracking this group usually takes less time as its members tend to rotate near the park headquarters.
However, gorillas in this group also move as far as the Bwindi park boundary and visitors may camp or sleep around the area where they can track them the following morning. For tourists interested in shorter treks, Rushegura gorilla family is preferably the perfect group for you can track it in less than five hours.
Katwe family. This is the newest edition to the gorilla family profile of Buhoma sector. Katwe was established in the summer of 2018 after successful habituation by Uganda wildlife authority. Katwe family comprises of 7 members including one silverback (Silverback Katwe), four adult females, three black backs and two infants. The exact number of members of Katwe family is still uncertain as new members keep joining and leaving the group occasionally.
Others activities you can do in Buhoma include:
Besides gorilla trekking in Buhoma sector, a variety of attractions and activities are available for visitors. These include community walks to the adjacent communities of Bakiga and Batwa communities.
The walks give an insight to the way these Batwa lived in the forest before they were resettled to give way for multiplication of mountain gorillas. Visitors can take part in activities such as preparing local food, digging, brewing local beer and fruit collecting among others.
Being a birder’s haven, devoted birders find Bwindi an interesting destination. Over 348 bird species are recorded within Bwindi impenetrable forest and 23 confined to the Albertine Rift such as the short tailed Warbler, Blue headed sunbird and common birds are dark caped Bulbul, African Emerald Cuckoo among others.
Accessing Buhoma Sector
Buhoma is a full day’s drive from Entebbe or Kampala, two hours’ drive from Queen Elizabeth National Park (Ishasha Sector) and six hours’ drive from Lake Mburo National Park.Two daily scheduled flights land at the nearby Kihiihi airstrip which is approximately one hour and thirty minutes’ drive to Buhoma depending on road conditions.
In general, gorilla trekking in Buhoma sector is one lifetime experience you can have in Bwindi impenetrable national park. The easy access, cozy lodges and camps plus all other activities make Buhoma one of the best sectors to track gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park.