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Uganda - the pearl of Africa has 50% of the remaining gorilla population in the world, dwelling within primate national parks - Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park. Uganda is truly a paradise for gorilla trekking on your Uganda safari.
Bwindi impenetrable national park has the highest number of gorilla individuals in Uganda, and these are distributed in its four sectors, Buhoma in the north, Ruhija in the east, Nkuringo in the southwest and Rushaga in the southeast. This national park is located in the south western region of Uganda and it is referred to as the initial life line of tourism in Uganda, being the first area to initiate gorilla trekking in the Buhoma sector in 1993.
Buhoma sector was the first sector to be trekked with the first habituated gorilla family being Mubare. This sector of Bwindi is preferred by many due to the friendly gorilla families and easy accessibility coming from different regions of Uganda.
Before trekking gorilla families in Bwindi’s Buhoma sector, one is required to purchase a gorilla permit through Uganda wildlife authority, a regulatory body of tourism in Uganda or through professional tour agents or operators. This gorilla permit costs $700 per individual valid for a single trek to a particular gorilla family.
Gorilla trekking in Buhoma begins with a short briefing by the park ranger about the do’s and don’ts’s while trekking the endangered apes in their habitat. The trek can take 2 to 6 hours depending on the movements and location of mountain gorillas, but Buhoma is a preferred location due to easy accessibility to the gorilla families compared to the other steep sectors.
Packed lunch is advised for the trekkers, and gorilla family allocation is done depending on the health, preference, physical fitness and stability of the trekker.
Buhoma sector currently has five habituated gorilla families that are trekked by tourists on their gorilla safaris to Bwindi impenetrable national park. These gorilla families include sliver backs that are the heads of the groups, black backs, females, juveniles and infants.
The number of gorilla individuals change depending on the new births or deaths borne from groups conflicts.
This was the first habituated gorilla group in Uganda, and was the first group to be trekked by tourists in 1993. This group derived its name from the Mubare hill, where the mountain gorilla gorillas where first sighted.
This group currently has 9 individual members despite the many deaths, change in leadership of the silverback and loss of members. Ruhondeza was the first silver back leader of the family but unfortunately died in 2013. The Mubare group holds great significance in the trekking history and while planning for gorilla safaris, this family should be on your bucket list.
The Habinyanja group was habituated in 1997 and that very year trekking of this group was open to tourists. This group was first sighted in a swamp area in Bwindi where they derived its name from a Rukiga term “Nyanja” which means place of water.
It was first headed by Mugurisi “old man” who later died because of old age and left dominance in the hands of two brothers - Mwirima and Rwansigazi. Due to the difference in their lifestyle, these two separated and Mwirima found the Rushegura group while Rwansigazi remained and led the Habinyanja gorilla group.
This is a group that broke away from the Habinyanja gorilla family under leadership of Mwirima. Rushegura was the area from where this group broke away and thus derived its name. It is one of the calmest gorilla groups with curios interesting infants who don’t shy away from getting close to humans and getting to know more. With the current new births this group has increased it numbers to 18 members.
This group is among the newly habituated gorilla groups in Buhoma. Trekking in this group started in 2018 with eight members.
Muyambi group is another newly developed gorilla family that broke away from Mubare. This group currently has 6 members with an interesting lifestyle that is worth a visit on gorilla safari while in Uganda.
Besides gorilla trekking in Buhoma, this sector has more to offer to its visitors;
Cultural exploration of the Batwa pygmies at the Buhoma sector is a fascinating activity. You can get to know about the initial inhabitants of Bwindi, their tradition, beliefs, lifestyle and culture while on your safari which is truly a lifetime experience.
Birding through the beautiful vegetation of Buhoma is a memorable experience as you witness bird species such as the stonechat, brown throated Chestnut, Wattle –eyes, yellow-spotted Barbets, Dusky tit, Black bee eater among others.
A natural walk through the beautiful vegetation of Buhoma sector is truly worthwhile as you view more of the sectors’ different fauna and flora.
Buhoma sector has different accommodation facilities for trekkers that might spend a night at the sector. The accommodation facilities include hotels, lodges, guest houses, camps and many more. These range from budget, midrange to luxury depending on clients’ preference and budget.
Among these include;
- Buhoma community rest camp
- Sanctuary gorilla forest camp
- Lake Kitandara Bwindi camp
- Buhoma lodge
- CTPH gorilla conservation camp
- Silver back lodge
- Volcanoes Bwindi lodge
- Engagi lodge
- Mahogany springs lodge
- Buhoma sector is truly a place to be for all primate lovers for an ultimate gorilla experience like no other in the world.