Gorilla tracking sectors in bwindi
Where To See Mountain Gorillas in Uganda
Mountain gorillas in Uganda are found in two southwestern Uganda locations. One can see them in either one of the four sectors of bwindi national park or Mgahinga National Park. The best destination to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park protects about half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas, with 19 gorilla families available for tourism in four sectors, more than any other mountain gorilla sanctuary. Gorilla permits in Uganda are issued exclusively for one section or trailhead: to trek in another park section, one has to purchase another gorilla permit.
Which section of Bwindi is best for gorilla trekking?
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest contains four sections for gorilla trekking spread around the park’s borders, and one of them offers the Habituation experience. All the sections offer the same riveting gorilla trekking experience; the difference is the different tourist infrastructure and the different number of Habituated gorilla families at each trailhead.
The location of each section is based on how the gorilla families defined their territories and how UWA can access the gorillas for tourism.
- buhoma sector
Buhoma Sector is nestled in the park’s northwest corner and currently has 5 habituated gorilla groups; 40 gorilla permits are issued per day. Buhoma gorilla groups include Muyambi (newest, 6 members), Katwe (8 members), Rushegura (18 members), Mubare (9), and Habinyanza (14).
As the first section of the park to open for gorilla tracking in Uganda, Buhoma is by far the most developed in terms of tourist infrastructure. The Buhoma sector is the most popular on uganda itineraries, mainly because one can easily connect to Queen Elizabeth National Park for a safari after the gorilla trekking experience.
Buhoma has many gorilla lodges spread along the trailhead entrance and one gorilla camp exclusively planted inside the park. Gorillas are probably the most accessible here, too, sometimes as little as a 30-minute trek away. And sometimes, the gorillas come out of the jungle and walk through guest camps in Buhoma.
Variable accommodation types for all types of travelers sprout all over Buhoma Sector. From luxury to budget camps and sleazy lodging dotted around the sector, you can’t fail to get where to sleep.
For a Luxury stay in Buhoma, we recommend Buhoma Lodge, Sanctuary Retreats & Mahogany Springs, and Budget: Buhoma Rest Camp and Ride for a Woman.
- nkuringo sector
Nkuringo Sector is home to 3 habituated gorilla groups, with 24 permits available per day in Nkuringo.
Nkuringo trailhead gorilla groups include Nkuringo (13 members), Bushaho (12 members), and Christmas (9 members). The fourth gorilla group, Bikingi (15 members), is still under Habituation and will soon be available for the 4-hour experience.
Nkuringo sector is regarded as the most entertaining, with the most relaxed gorilla groups and most challenging trek. It’s a preferred choice by seasoned hikers that want the challenge the terrain presents and those that want to see more of the primeval jungle after the gorilla trek. Nkuringo Sector is very popular with photographers.
Nkuringo is spectacularly set in the southwest of Bwindi on a ridge opposite Bwindi’s wall of green. You can see Lake Edward, the Rwenzoris, all of the Virungas, and even Nyiragongo active Volcanoes from various spots. And for a 30 minutes drive from Nkuringo, one can access rushanga sector
Nkuringo does not offer as many accommodation types as Buhoma. It has more high-end accommodation ranging from $200 – $1000 per person per night. For a Luxury high-end stay, nkuringo safari lodge and Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge provide the most excellent gorilla safari accommodation south of Bwindi.
- Rushaga Sector
Rushaga sector, in the southwestern section of Bwindi, has 6 Habituated gorilla groups and 2 semi-habituated gorilla families available for the experience. Therefore, Rushaga issues 48 gorilla permits and 8 Habituation permits per day: the highest number of permits than any other gorilla trekking section in Uganda.
The six habituated gorilla families in Rushaga include Nshongi (9 members), Mishaya (12 members), Kahungye (17 members), Busingye (9 members), Mucunguzi (12 members), and Bweza (12 members).
Rushaga trailhead is about a 30-minutes drive from Nkuringo trailhead, where there’s the best luxury accommodation. Budget visitors can still get average accommodation, including budget camps around the Rushaga sector. However, upmarket visitors can book into Nkuringo Sector and get to Rushaga in time for the trek.
- Ruhija Sector
In the northeast of the Bwindi park is Ruhija Sector. Ruhija Sector has 3 habituated gorilla groups: Bitukura (14 members), Oruzogo (17 members), and Kyaguriri (20 members). 24 permits per day are available in Ruhija.
Ruhija sector’s location with Buhoma to the north and Kabale in the south gives it easy access to both sides of the park. You can easily connect to Queen Elizabeth from Ruhija, making it a favorite choice among budget trekkers that hope to later connect to the northern savannah park.
Because Ruhija has the least amount of permits, suitable gorilla safari accommodation may be hard to find in Ruhija. New gorilla lodges are beginning to sprout there, but it would take a careful planner to book you into suitable accommodation in Ruhija.
- Ntebeko Trailhead in Mgahinga
Ntebeko is the only trailhead in Mgahinga National Park where all park activities start including gorilla trekking. It is also the location of the park headquarters. The park has one habituated gorilla family offering only 8 gorilla permits per day.
Mgahinga also offers golden monkey trekking with one Habituated golden monkey family (with over 30 individuals) available for tourism. It’s a common choice for trekkers to combine gorilla trekking with golden monkey trekking or hiking the famous Virunga Mountains.
Heading out from Ntebeko, mountain climbers can hike the simple Mount Gahinga (3,474 m), any one of the three peaks on Mount Sabinyo (3,645 m), or the much challenging Mount Muhavura (4,127 m).
Mgahinga does not provide many accommodation choices close to the park because it attracts very few tourists and Uganda gorilla safari operators. However, high-end luxury travelers can lodge at the elegant Mount Gahinga Lodge located a few meters from the park’s entrance.
Budget campers can choose from one of the two options available. Otherwise, Kisoro Town is the nearest town with a broader range of accommodation choices. The most prominent is Traveler’s Rest Hotel, famous for lodging historical figures like Diane Fossy, George Schaller, and Luis Leaky.