Bwindi Forest National Park
Bwindi impenetrable forest reserve was gazetted in 1942, upgrade to Bwindi impenetrable National park in 1992 and recognized as a world heritage site in 1994. A trek through, one of Africa’s most ancient rain forests, in search of the endangered mountain gorillas, ranks among the world’s premier encounters
Southwestern Uganda, on the edge of the western rift valley, shared by Kanungu, Kabale and kisoro districts.Bwindi is 331 square kilometers and the annual temperature ranges from 7 -20 degrees Celsius with June to July being the coldest periods..Bwindi receives 2390mm of rain per year which is concentrated during two seasons that of March and May. Heavy rains are received in the months of September and November other months receive less rains
Majority are the Bakiga and Bafumbira, constituting the densest settlements in Uganda, (350people/ square kilometer)
Species diversity; 120 species of mammals including 10 diurnal primates and about 30 elephants. There are about 350 species of birds and over 310 species of butterflies. This afromontane forest has dense under growth of fern, vines and scrubs. About 200 tree species have been recorded here, 10 of which occur nowhere else in Uganda.
GORILLA TRACKING IN BWINDI
This is a major tourist attraction in Bwindi.Bwindi extends to northern side of Buhoma and southern part of Kisoro boerning with Congo and Rwanda. Gorilla safaris for Uganda gorilla safaris 12 gorilla groups are currently available to be visited on daily basis for gorilla trekking and 1 for gorilla research. These gorilla families are found at different points in Bwindi. They include Buhoma, Ruhija, and Shongi/Kisoro areas. Under Bahaman starting point we find these gorilla families of Muar, Rushegura and Habiyanja.
BUHOMA Bwindi Gorilla Families
Mubare Family Group:
Mubare family gorilla group has 10 members and is the first and the oldest habituated gorilla family in Uganda and was opened for tourism in 1993. It was derived from the Mubare Hill, deep in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, where the gorilla’s trackers were the first people to see the gorilla’s .Initially, the group consisted of 18 individuals, led by the dominant Silverback Ruhondeza. , As the years goes on the family lost many members until there were only 5 left in 2012. In March 2012, Ruhondeza’s leader ship was attacked and some of the females where taken a way. Until he died, Rhonda had over 50 years of age. Ruhondeza’s successor (kanyonyi) managed the mubare family and increased to 10 members.
Rushengura Family Group.
Rushegura family group consists of 19 members. The name came as a result of the Habinyanja family separating and it took place in February 2002. The calmest families are known to be the Rushegura family group.
Habinyanja Family Group
Habinyanja family group was habituated in 1997 the name “Habinyanja”was derived from the Rukiga word “Nyanja” meaning “a place with water”. By that time of habituation, the dominant Silverback Mugurisi leads the group, which means “Old man”. After his death, the two brothers Rwansigazi and Mwirima shared power but it was different that it could not continue. The two silverbacks separated with out a fight. The group that followed Rwansigazi maintained the name Habinyanja, members who stayed with Mwirima came to be known as the Rushegura family. Rwansigazi gave up leadership to Makara the dominant silverback of the Habinyanja family.
RUHIJA Bwindi Gorilla Families
Ruhija consists of different families and these include; Bitukura and oruzogo
Bitukura Family Group
Bitukura family group is located in the Ruhija .It was named after a river that bears the same name where it was first sighted. Bikutura family was habituated in July 2007 and in October it was opened for tourism. At first Bitukura had 24 members and has been reduced to 14 members, with four silverbacks where Ndahura is the eldest. . He took the role from former Silverback Karamuzi who is now retired. A new member joined the family in April 2013.
Oruzogo Family Group
The second habituated gorilla family living in the Ruhija area’s Oruro family group with 23 individuals and led by Silverback Tibirikwata..In 2011, the family was opened for tourism. Female adult Ntamurungi gave birth to a baby gorilla in June 2011 and Musi gave birth in October 2011. Other individuals in the group include Busungu (meaning “short tempered”), Kaganga (“the giant one”) and Boca (“the coward”).
Nkuringo / Kisoro Bwindi Gorilla Families
Under Nkuringo/ kisoro Bwindi Gorilla family constitutes of the following families and these are Nkuringo, Nshongi, Mishaya, Kahungye and Busingye
Nkuringo Family Group
Nkuringo family group is located in Nkuringo and it‘s the only family in Bwindi National Park. And it was opened for tourism in 2004.Nkuringo family group was first habituated at Nkuringo hill.Afer its habituation it was under the leader ship of the elderly silver back. Whose name was named Nkurigo Nursing’s son, Safari, had begun taking over leadership responsibilities. .On 27th April, 2008, Nkuringo died leaving two silvers backs Safari and Rafiki in the same group.
NSHONGI Family Group
Nshongi family group is located in Rushaga part of Bwindi National Park. This gorilla family was first sighted near a river called Nshongi. This had a deep colour similar to honey which is called Omushongi Gwoboki in the local language. In 26th September 2009 the family was launched for tourism and it begun in the early 2007.The family consists of 36 members together with silver backs and black backs
Mishaya Family Group
Mishaya family group is found in Rushanga area of Bwindi National park. This consists of 7 individuals having the Mishaya as the leader who is a fighter. The group had a battle with un habituated family.
.Kahungye Family Group
The Kahungye name was derived from the hill found in Rushaga area where the discovery of gorillas was found. (Omuhanga in Rukiga)Maesa plant is where the silver back died in the Kahungye hill area. The family was opened for tourism in the month of March on 6th 2011
Busingye Family Group.
In August 2012, Busingye family group was opened up for tourism .The group constituties of 9 members and three young ones. It was created after showing a sign of return to the Kahungye family group.
Bweza Family Group
Bweza Family group has got 7members and 2 young ones.Bweza family group broke away due to rangles in the Nshongi family group..In 2013 it was habituated for tourism
Gorilla Trekking Rules apply and must be strictly adhered to;
• No one with a communicable disease e.g. flu, diarrhea is allowed to visit. The gorillas
• Do not surround the gorillas but remain in the tight group.
•Leave a distance of at least 7m between you and the gorillas .If they approach you, move back slowly to avoid human transmission of disease.
Flash photography is strictly forbidden
• after the visit, keep your voice down until you are within a distance of 200 meters from the gorillas.
• If you need to sneeze or cough, turn away from the gorillas and cover your nose and mouth in the process
• Bury all human faeces in a hole dug at least 30cm (one foot) deep and ensure that it is properly filled in afterwards.
• All litter must be removed from the park for disposal.
• No person under 15 years is allowed to track gorillas.
• Don’t spit on vegetation or soil while in the park.
- ∙When with the gorillas, avoid making loud noises or sudden movements but you are free to ask the guide questions.
- Contact time with the gorillas is strictly limited to one hour.
•Do not eat or drink while you are near the gorillas to control the risk of disease transmission
- Do not look the gorillas into the eyes; wait for the animals to pass
- ·Do not run away the gorillas; this increases the risk of attack.
- Gorillas are wild animals, do not touch them.
- Please observe all instructions from your guide.
Visitors who tour Bwindi there is four fantastic hiking trails. You have the opportunities to see and learn about primates, many bird species, butterflies, trees and other organism. . The guides company is obligatory and helps you achieve an excellent understanding of eco- system in the park.
The Munyaga River trails; is a short walk trail for visitors to view different primates of the forest edge.
Water fall Trail. It’s one of the Uganda’s early primitive tracts of the rain forest, which pass via trees, and orchids to visit sparking water falls.
Rushura trail commands expansive views across the western rift valley floor. To the west, Congo’s parc National des virungas provides a spectacular backdrop, and on clear days Lake Edward and the Rwenzori Mountain are visible.
The Muzabajiro Loop trails provides breath-taking of Bwindi Forest. Western rift valley and the virungas. On your way, you witness hundreds of pre-historic tree ferns; This trail is a great place for a picnic lunch the top
The river Ivi trail, it is the largest in the park emerging near Nkuringo on the edge of the forest. Bird watchers are highly recommended
Bwindi is the bird watchers haven; it holds 350 species of birds and contains 90% of the albertine rift endemics, difficult to see in any other part of East Africa, and 7 red data book species. An experienced bird watcher can identify up to 100 species of birds in a day. Visit Ruhija and Buhoma for this dream. Most common birds are the African Emerald Cuckoo, Common Bulbul, African Blue and White-tailed Blue Flycatchers and Red-headed Bluebill.
In the evenings, participate in captivating traditional performances presented by women’s group. Proceeds from these go directly to improve the welfare of the families around the park.
Kampala to Kabale is a distance of 414kms on bitumen surface and takes 5-6hours which follows 120km, passes through kanungu and kanyantorogo and takes 4-5 hours winding murramroads
Kampala-Kabale – Ruhija – Buhoma is 95kms and takes 3hours. This road is not used much by the public. A4WD vehicle is recommended.
Queen Elizabeth National Park (Mwenya) –Kihihi –Buhoma.
This route passes the park’s southerly ishasha sector, providing the chance of stop over to for the famous tree – climbing lions .Bwindi s 160km from Mwenya and 64km from ishasha.
Kampala –Ntungamo-Rukungiri-Kihihi -Buhoma
This, the quickest and most direct route from Kampala, follows tarmac roads to rukungiri(390km) followed by 82km on murram roads to Buhoma
Kampala – Kabale –Nkuringo.
Nkuringo is 105km from Kabale. The drive takes 2-3 hours on the mountainous paved road. Most visitors overnight in Kisoro (80km from Kabale) before proceeding to Nkuringo. The road from kisoro is winding 35km that takes 1-1.5hours.A4 WD vehicle is recommended for both approaches to Nkuringo. There are now established lodging facilities at Nkuringo and Nshongi area
A bus runs daily from Kampala to Butogota from which a tax can be hired from the last 17km to Buhoma .There is no public transport to Nkuringo but vehicles can be hired in Kisoro
Scheduled flying safaris to Bwindi Is now offered. Travelers can fry from Entebbe or Kampala (Kajjansi air field) to the modern tarmac air strip at kisoro or to Kihihi air field or Kayonza air field.
ACCOMMODATIONS AND MEALS
• The local community operates a Buhoma Community Rest Camp of budget standards with clean and simple bandas. A restaurant serving simple traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner is available.
• Buhoma Lodge of African pearl safaris offers an up market range accommodation.
• Gorilla Forest has luxury tented accommodation
• Engage Lodge: Mantana also provides fully furnished facilities
• Kitadara Lodge with en suit facilities
Silver back lodge
Mahogany Springs Lodge
Three privately run campsites are available
Ruhija can now offer good accommodation facilities. These include:
Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge
Gorilla Mist Camp
Ruhija Gorilla Resort
Gift of nature
Trekkers Taverns Cottages
Savanna resort hotel is 40kms to Buhoma and adjacent to Ishasha sector, of Queen Elizabeth national park.
- KISORO/ NKURINGO/NSHONGI
Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge
Gorilla safari Lodge
Nkuringo Gorilla Camp
Wagtail eco safari camp