Located in the east of Bwindi impenetrable forest, Ruhija sector/region is the most accessible gorilla region in Uganda. Ruhija is one of the 4 gorilla tracking regions that make up Bwindi Impenetrable National Park; a celebrated conservation area in Uganda that boats more than 500 mountain gorillas (50% of the world’s total) and the park with the highest number of mountain gorilla families on earth.
Bwindi National Park is also a UNESCO Heritage Site that is home not only to the popular mountain gorillas, but also a hub for culture and traditions, verdant nature, an impenetrable forest, and verdant wildlife including primates, birds and mammal species.
Ruhija is therefore one of the most famous gorilla regions / sectors of Bwindi impenetrable national park. Situated 45km close to Kabale town, a drive takes only one hour but can even be less if the road is tarmacked. Ruhija sector is a major gorilla trekking region, along with other regions like Buhoma, Rushaga and Nkuringo. With up to 3 well habituated gorilla families, the region presents opportunities for gorilla trekking whole year round.
Gorilla families in Ruhija sector
Oruzogo gorilla family is one of the newly habituated gorilla families in Ruhija sector. Habituation of this family began in 2009 and ended in 2011 when it was officially launched and opened to tourists for trekking. The group has since become best travelers’ choice due to the welcoming and entertaining nature of its members, who are naturally playful and fun, making visitors wishing to have more of it.
The group got its name, “Oruzogo” from the common plant that grows in the area where the group was first sighted. Trekking this family presents one of the most hectic and adventurous hikes, and one has to be fit to conquer it, but the joy of meeting the group is worth all the efforts. Oruzogo family is comprised of a total of 17 members under the leadership of Bakwate (the dominant silverback), young silverback Busungu, plus many vibrant and youthful black backs, robust juveniles and infants.
Bitukura gorilla family is another calm and interesting group in Ruhija region. Made up of 14 members, the group registered another gorilla birth in January 2019, bringing the total to 15. This group was the fastest group to be habituated, taking only 15 months to complete, while others take up to 2 years before they are open for trekking.
The group got its name after River Bitukura whose banks the family occupies. Bitukura has a total of 3 Silverbacks, who live in constant fights for the throne, making it so unique. Ndahura, the second youngest is the lead silverback after inheriting the throne of his father, Karamuzi (now deceased). Other silverbacks include, Rukumu the 2nd and Rukara the 4th.
Kyaguriro gorilla family is the oldest family in Ruhija. It was first habituated in 1995, primarily for research and study by institute of evolutionary anthropology, until it was split into Kyaguriro A and Kyaguriro B. Kyaguriro B is still being used for study and research while Kyaguriro A is open for trekking on a daily basis.
Kyaguriro A comprises of 10 individuals, under dominant silverback Rukara, with 3 adult females, 2 black backs, two infants and two juveniles. While Kyaguriro B is made up of up 10 members, under the leadership of silverback Mukiza and other 4 adult females, 4 infants and one sub-adult.
Other activities to do
The sector is a prime birding site for avid birders, presenting a safe habitat for about 348 species of birds, including Striking Handsome Francolin, Yellow-streaked Greenbuls, Rwenzori batis, Red-faced woodland Warbler White-tailed crested Flycatcher, and so much more amazing species.
Fun and exciting, the nature walks here involve penetrating through the forest on foot, this time not searching for the mighty mountain gorillas but admiring virgin nature and the adventure that comes along. During this forest / nature walk, be gifted with fantastic sights of butterflies, numerous monkey species, forest mammals and ancient tree species.
The Batwa people are the original inhabitants of this dynamic region. Enjoy them in the evenings after an adventurous gorilla trekking expedition. You won’t regret your time spent with these unique people. Admire their entertaining traditional songs, participate in their energetic dances, ad learn about their history through their songs and through stories told by a local guide.
Learn how they lived in the forests with their close friends, the gorillas, see how they grow crops, visit a traditional healer in the area who treats people with local herbs, and tells fortune. Enjoy the traditional dances and songs, how the people around grow and harvest their crops, experience the fantastic way of making juice, gin, and beer from bananas and visit the traditional healers who extract their medicine from forests.
Ruhija sector is positioned between Kabale and Kisoro, close to the main highway that connects the two towns. It is also a few hours drive to Buhoma sector in the north and Rushaga in the south. It is only 218km from Queen Elizabeth national park and 480km from Kampala – Uganda capital.
By road, Ruhija region is best accessed via Kampala – Masaka – Mbarara – Kabale highway, driving for roughly 8 hours with stop overs at the equator, tea and banana plantations, and the hills of Kabale until you reach Ruhija. A strong 4WD vehicle is recommended due to the poor conditions of the road that connects from Kabale – Kisoro highway to the park, especially during rainy season.
There’s apparently no direct flight to Ruhija from Kampala/Entebbe, but Kihihi airstrip in the north of Bwindi provides perfect landing for travelers to Ruhija. A drive to Ruhija is approximately 2 hours from Kihihi airstrip.