Lying in Uganda’s furthest southwestern corner on the periphery of the great western Rift valley, Bwindi is the famed habitat to some of the most endangered apes on planet earth; the mighty Mountain Gorillas; loved and visited by a majority of visitors in Uganda and other countries that host these magnificent species. This is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi’s history runs back in 1932 when it was first established as a Crown Forest reserve covering total land area of approximately 298 sq.km. Later turned into a wildlife sanctuary in 1964, Bwindi was primarily set aside to keep the then critically endangered mountain gorillas. Later in 1991, the neighboring wildlife reserves were joined to form the bigger Bwindi Impenetrable National park. These included the Rwenzori Mountain Reserve, Mgahinga Gorilla Reserve and the Impenetrable Central Reserve.
In 1994, the newly created Bwindi Impenetrable National Park got listed as a UNESCO world Heritage Site in recognition of its richly bio-diverse ecosystem that supports a profusion of unique flora and fauna.
Bwindi impenetrable National Park is a huge conservation area with various forms of terrains and therefore has since been split into 4 distinct regions namely; Buhoma located in the northern part of Bwindi, Ruhija located in the east, Rushaga located on the south and Nkuringo in the further southern part of Bwindi national park. All the above sectors possess great treasure as evidenced below.
Buhoma gorilla region is located in the north of Bwindi Impenetrable national park, and the most famous of sectors. This is due to the fact that Buhoma is the sector where the first gorilla family, Mubare was habituated in 1993.
It also doubles as the most accessible region as it links very well with Rukungiri and Kanungu towns, and served by the nearby Kihiihi airstrip making it ideally the most visited all year through. It is also home to a profusion of luxurious lodges, and its nearness to Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park which hosts the elusive tree climbing lions makes Buhoma sector a traveler’s paradise.
Buhoma sector is home to four impressive gorilla families which include: Mubare Gorilla Family which was the first to the Habituated in Uganda in 1991 with a current group size of 5 members. The other family is Habinyanja also known as the H group. It is also one of the early habituated groups launched for trekking in 1997 .This family is Composed of 18 family members with two Silverbacks.
The Rushegura Gorilla Family is the most loved gorilla family and one of the biggest in the park. It is comprised of 21 family members including the eldest gorillas. Trekking this group usually takes few Hours as its members tend to stay near the parks headquarters, lodges and campsites. However it is not always a guarantee that you will meet these gorillas at the very time you get into the park, it will be advisable that you camp around so that your safari becomes more memorable.
Katwe group is the most recently launched gorilla family, together with Christmas in Nkuringo sector. Habituation was finished in the summer of 2018 and the group was immediately opened for trekking all year long.
Some other activities in Buhoma sector include Birding, Batwa cultural encounters, cycling and nature walk / hiking treks. Some of the accommodation Facilities in this sector include Buhoma Lodge for Luxury, Buhoma community Haven midrange and Bwindi Guest House for Budget.
Rushaga is Bwindi’s most southern sector located in the remote Rubanda district, a few kilometers from Kisoro. Rushaga is unique in its own way, because it hosts the highest population of habituated gorilla families than any other gorilla region in the park.
Some of these families can be seen below.
Nshongi gorilla group. This family got its name, Nshongi from a nearby river where it was originally sighted. It currently has 25 members but it continues expanding.
Mishaya gorilla group. In the year 2010, Mishaya family split off from Nshongi following continuous disputes with the silverback Mishaya to form its own group.
Kahungye gorilla group has up to 13 members with Rumansi – the dominant silver back plus other two male mountain gorillas.
Busingye is another group in this sector that split from Kahungye gorilla group. It is comprised of 9 individuals, namely; one dominant silverback, five black backs and three infants.
Bweza gorilla group has roughly 12 members. This group also split up from Nshongi because of the rivalry.
While in this sector, you can stay in Rushaga Gorilla Safari Lodge which is a luxury option, Gorilla Valley Lodge for Midrange and Nshongi camp for Budget accommodation and camping option.
Located in the eastern side of Bwindi, Ruhija gorilla region is home to now 4 gorilla families and one of the easily accessed sectors of Bwindi. It is located along the Kabale-Kisoro Highway, only 45km from the town of Kabale and about 50km from Lake Bunyonyi.
Some of the gorilla groups in Ruhija sector include the following;-
Bitukura group. It is arguably the most calm of all groups in Bwindi. Bitukura Family has a membership of about 12 members including 4 silverbacks.
Oruzogo family Group is open all year round for trekkers in the Ruhija region. Oruzogo’s family population is about 16 members with one silverback. It is among the most recent groups opened for trekking.
Kyaguriro Gorilla Group. This is a group of 20 members. Fully habituated and launched in the year 2011, the group has since been put aside for only research and study purposes.
Some of the most amazing activities in this sector include birding, gorilla Trekking, Nature walks among others. Lodges in Ruhija include the luxurious Ruhija Gorilla Safari lodge, Bakiga Lodge for Midrange and Broadbill Forest Camp for budget.
Nkuringo is located on the extreme southern corner of Bwindi, in Kisoro district. It comprises of two gorilla groups; Nkuringo and Christmas families. Nkuringo Group is home to 19 members. Truly speaking, Nkuringo group is the most thrilling group to meet in Bwindi, but usually located deep in the forest and may prove to be a bit strenuous to trek Nkuringo family. However, the joy of meeting the members of this group face to face is worth all the effort.
The second gorilla family in Nkuringo is the newly formed Christmas family. It was created in the summer of 2018 after splitting from the Nkuringo family. Under its lead silverback Christmas, this group broke off following disputes and it took off with 9 members including 1 silverback, 1 black back, 3 female gorillas and a baby.
When the sun sets while you are still enjoying the adventure, fear not because a wide array of accommodations get you covered. Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla lodge for Luxury, crested Crane Bwindi Hotel and Virunga campsite for budget. On the view of all the above gorilla sectors, be rest assured that all your journey interests are catered for as you come to witness the beautiful insights of Bwindi impenetrable forest.