Explore the spectacular hidden treasures of the Buniga Forest and its variety of wildlife, bird and plant species on this wonderful trail, done on the company of the local guides who have expert knowledge on their attractions within the area. Buniga Forest Reserve is one of the remaining forests neighboring Bwindi Impenetrable National park. Because of the increased reduction of the area of the forest largely due to encroachment that leads to loss of the biodiversity, this hiking trail was established by the Nkuringo Community Conservation and Development Foundation (NCCDF) to conserve the Forest and manage it for the ecotourism-related activities. Besides protecting the Forest, the returns from the nature walk also benefit neighboring villages and encourage the locals to actively participate in the conservation of the Forest.
Where is the Buniga Forest
The Buniga Forest Walk is one of the best community based adventures you can enjoy while on a gorilla safari in Bwindi Forest National Park in South Western Uganda! Located in Nkuringo within the southern part of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda, this 1.5 km trail explores Buniga Forest, with its lush tree ferns and giant lobelia.
The Walk is guided by the local Batwa – an indigenous group of people who formerly lived a nomadic life in the gorilla forests of the Great Lakes region of Africa. While on the nature walk through the forest, tourists benefit from the Batwa’s extensive forest knowledge and survival skills, passed from one generation to the next.
The Buniga Forest Walk is arranged by the Nkuringo Community Conservation and Development Foundation (NCCDF) and the walk starts and finishes at the NCCDF offices in Nkuringo. The Walk includes a 1 km walk through the Buniga Forest fragment, followed by a visit to the Sanuriiro settlement, 5 km distance,
to allow you to meet the Batwa both then and now.
The 1 km trail is an easy to moderate hike with frequent stops to experience the forest from the perspective of the Batwa. You’ll learn how the forest sustained the ‘First People,’ providing them with food, medicine, clothing, shelter, crafts and tools, tradition and folklore.
Nkuringo, SW of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
It is located in Kanungu District, UGANDA.
EAT (GMT +3)
Uganda Shillings, UGX
The Forest Forest
Within the Forest you will encounter many indigenous plant species with special importance to the Batwa people. Keep your eyes open for the giant lobelias and tree ferns.
Buniga Forest is home to many endemic trees and flowers. You’ll find giant lobelias and tree ferns nestled into the slopes near the trail. While Buniga Forest is an isolated forest fragment, its floral diversity is rich. Within the Forest you will encounter many indigenous plant species with special importance to the Batwa people.
Keep your eyes open for the giant lobelias and tree ferns which give Buniga Forest its mystical feel and species like Syzygium which provides food for chimpanzees.
Your Batwa guides will point out the species of interest and tell you how different species provided medicine or fiber for clothing or construction materials.
While on the Buniga Forest Walk, keep your eye out for primates and endemic birds as well as signs of more elusive creatures, like a chimpanzee nest or two.
The Forest is also important habitat for many mammal species including small antelopes called duikers and primates like black-and-white colobus, red-tailed, blue, and L’hoesti monkeys. Keep your eyes out and ears open for signs of Chimpanzees that occasionally visit Buniga Forest.
Buniga Forest is known for its diversity of bird life, with over 100 species of birds identified within and near to the forest. The trail within Buniga Forest allows visitors the chance to sit and listen and spot different species of birds.
Buniga Forest Walk:
While Nkuringo is best known for mountain gorilla trekking and grandstand views of the Bwindi hills and Virunga volcanoes, other, hidden treasures await discovery in the depths of Buniga.
Throughout the 1 km long trail in Buniga Forest, you’ll learn how the forest sustained the Batwa providing them with food, medicine, clothing, shelter, crafts, tools, tradition and folklore.
Enter the forest with a Mutwa guide to learn the secrets of the Batwa’s traditional forest culture, and also, found out how they live today in the nearby Sanuriiro settlement.
The Trail and Settlement Visit:
The guided walk follows an easy to moderate hike on a new and well-developed trail. Allow at least three hours for the walk and the visit to Sanuriiro Batwa settlement.
The walk starts and finishes at the NCCDF office in Nkuringo. However, you will need your own transport to visit the Sanuriiro Batwa settlement, 5 km distant.
Mountain Gorilla Tracking:
The Nkuringo, Christmas, Kahungye, Shongi, and Mishaya habituated groups of mountain gorillas can be tracked from this area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Book your gorilla tracking permits directly with the Uganda Wildlife Authority, but add the Buniga Forest Walk to your travel itinerary.
Sanuriiro Batwa Settlement
The Buniga Forest Walk includes a visit to one such settlement at Sanuriiro. The transition to a new existence outside the forest has not been easy for the Batwa. Many exist as landless squatters while more fortunate communities live in new, purpose-built villages.
The transition to a new existence outside the forest has not been easy for the Batwa. Many exist as landless squatters while more fortunate communities live in new, purpose-built villages.
You are welcome to ask questions and discuss the Batwa’s situation directly with them. The same guides that take you through Buniga Forest as the Batwa lived then, will take you to where they live now in Sanuriiro settlement.
After a short tour, sit and visit with members of the community, both young and old and watch the women weave the traditional baskets of the region, with natural materials and dyes.
The community members of Sanuriiro are finding other ways of subsistence, building on their traditional knowledge learned from their elders in the forest. From gathering of wild honey in the forest to the cultivation of bees in beehives, which are shown here.
The Buniga Forest Walk, by providing employment opportunities, allows for the Batwa to make a living off of their forest knowledge,
Plus an opportunity to pass the old ways down to the younger generations who are growing up in settlements like Sanuriiro.
Your visit also validates that their traditional knowledge has value and contributes toward elevating the social status of the Batwa in the larger community.
The Buniga Forest Walk has been developed slowly, over many years, so that the benefits and rights of those involved are clearly established and the foundation for this as a tourist encounter.
The Buniga Forest Walk is an authentic culture and nature experience with the benefits going directly back into the community.
In addition the Batwa guides, you will be accompanied by a community guide. It is with authentic joy that the Batwa welcome you to Buniga Forest.
At every turn is another experience that you will remember for a lifetime.
Your guides on the Buniga Forest Walk learned the skills and knowledge they will show you from their elders.
It is with great pride and satisfaction that they pass this knowledge to you in a wonderful exchange that happens both in Buniga Forest and in the Sanuriiro Batwa Settlement.
Feel at ease and among friends on your walk.
All of your guides are from the Nkuringo area, including the Batwa guides and a community guide to serve as your translator from the local language used by the Batwa guides to English.
Irene MUHAWE, Mutwa Guide:
Irene is one of the many women that also participate as guides in the Buniga Forest Walk and also a Sanuriiro resident. She is clearly a leader in her community and will lead different parts of your Walk.
Kenneth ALELUYA, Community Guide:
Kenneth is one of several community guides that work with NCCDF. He, or one of his colleagues, will serve as your translator for your visit.
Christof KAGUNDU, Mutwa Guide:
Christof is one of the lead guides on the Buniga Forest Walk and a resident of the Sanuriiro settlement. Christof learned his forest knowledge from his father and grandfather.