Situated in the northern side of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Buhoma region is exceptionally one of the four most incredible tracking regions that you shouldn’t miss to track while on mountain gorilla adventures in Uganda. This region features as most famous as the oldest trailhead in Uganda given when it comes to mountain gorilla adventures.
This sector is a pioneer of the gorilla trekking activity in Bwindi forest and Uganda in general. The sector was the first to host the first group of gorilla trekkers when Mubare gorilla family was opened for tracking in 1993. Gorilla families habituated for tracking in this sector include; Rushegura, Mubare and Habinyanja.
It is in this sector where other walks have been developed including; the Munyaga River Trails in the valley of Buhoma, which is a short walk for viewing birds and primates along the forest edge. The waterfall trail which passes beneath tree ferns, epiphytic ferns as well as orchids to visit three dazzling waterfalls. The Rushura Hill Trail, Muzabajiro Loop Trail and the River Ivi Trail, of which the latter follows an old road through the forest, emerging near Nkuringo on the southern edge of the impenetrable forest. The Buhoma community walk and cultural performances which takes up to three hours visiting a typical homestead, the traditional healer and a banana beer brewery is organized by the local community. Of recent, the Batwa cultural experience has been developed in this section of the park.
It is very easy to trek gorillas in the Buhoma sector. The drive takes you through Ntungamo and Rukungiri before connecting to Butogota and eventually Buhoma.
The accommodation facilities range from the top notch Gorilla Forest Camp, the luxury Buhoma lodge; Mid-range Silverback lodge and the Budget Buhoma Community Rest Camp.
Habituated Gorilla Families in the Buhoma Sector
When it comes to tourism activities in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Buhoma is the leading sector. Buhoma trailhead is credited with 3 of the 12 habituated that Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is proud of. The prominent groups in Buhoma include the Mubare which first received its first trekkers in October, 1993.
Buhoma sector is composed of the following habituated gorilla groups;
Mubare aka Mubale gorilla family:
This group is also known as M-group, one of the ancient gorilla groups that were habituated in 1991. Mubare gorilla group was first tracked by visitors as early as 1993. This group got its name from the most magnificent Mubare hills. At first, there were only twelve family members in this group but when their leader Ruhondeza died, only five of them remained. In 2013, Mubare gorilla group was joined by four other mountain gorillas which increased the number to 9 family members including one silverback, black back, one adult female and two juveniles. This group comprises of nine individuals and was also later led by Kanyonyi silverback plus Kashundwe as an infant.
This remarkable gorilla group is a bit simpler to track but this is not guaranteed as the trek varies. Previously, the mountain gorillas in this group used to live closer to the Buhoma park headquarters but currently, visitors can spend more than five hours tracking the family. Visitors to Mubare gorilla group are of higher advantage as they can track mountain gorillas within the Buhoma trail head of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.
Habinyanja gorilla family: This is also known as H-group and it is one of the first habituated gorilla families in Buhoma trail-head. Habinyanja gorilla group was habituated in 1997 purposely for gorilla trekking and in 1999; it was successfully visited by tourists. For many years, this group has been visited by thousands of visitors all over the world. Tracking this group takes visitors the whole day or a total of about 5 hours and beyond. Habinyanja gorilla group is composed of 18 members with mainly 2 silverbacks although these figures keep altering due to newly born babies. This group was initially discovered around a swamp in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and hence the name Habinyanja which means Nyanja. It is important to note that mountain gorillas behave just like human beings, with time they also split and this applies to almost all the gorilla groups.
Rushegura gorilla family: This amazing group is some times called R-group. Rushegura is one of the renowned larger gorilla families and it is composed of 21 members; including one silverback, blackback, five adult females, two sub adults, six juveniles and six infants. This group was first habituated in 2000 for gorilla tracking and in 2002; it received its first tourists. Tracking this group takes less time as its gorilla members tend to live near the park headquarters. However, mountain gorillas in this group also tend to move as far as outside Bwindi park boundary and this means, visitors can camp or stay around the area where they can chance to sight them in the following morning. For visitors who are interested in shorter treks, Rushegura gorilla group is preferably the perfect and huge group for you track for less than five hours. This is of no guarantee for visitors because these creatures tend to go beyond the park. just like other gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, the Rushegura is another most splinter family that comes from the Habinyanja gorilla family.
Go Gorilla Trekking in Buhoma
A trip to Buhoma sector is worth it given that it is the oldest region in the entire protected areas and the first to receive the tourists on gorilla safaris in Uganda. Visitor experiences in this area are facilitated by a number of accommodation facilities which range from luxury to budget, most of which include Buhoma Lodge, Mahogany springs, Sanctuary Gorilla Camp, Silverback Lodge, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Engagi Lodge, Gorilla Resort, Bwindi Volcano Lodge and many more. With these numerous accommodation and lodging facilities, you have a reason to pay a visit to this region for your lifetime adventures with the rare mountain gorillas while they are in their natural habitat.
How to get to Buhoma area
Buhoma region takes an entire day drive from Entebbe or Kampala city center, 6 hours’ drive from Lake Mburo National Park, 2 hours’ drive from Queen Elizabeth National Park. Its proximity to Queen Elizabeth National Park especially the southern region-Ishasha makes it the most accessible areas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Alternatively, there are scheduled flights which land in Kihihi airfield and then you connect by car and it takes visitors one and half hours drive but this depends on nature of road network. There are charter flights starting from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to Kihihi. Its easy accessibility makes it one of the best areas that you consider exploring in your next vacation in Uganda.
Visitors on safari to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park can easily to connect to Ruhija that is located in Eastern side of the park. This means that visitors can still connect from other regions and track gorilla families in Buhoma. Travelers take two hours driving from Buhoma to Ruhija sector. Tourists can also track the Nkuringo area which is in the southern side of the park where you can take a walk from Buhoma in the middle of the forest. The Nkuringo safari walk trail takes visitors approximately 3 hours.
Buhoma region also features most of the projects which visitors can participate in or support mountain gorilla conservation activities. This means that you can collaborate with conservation through public health (CTPH), Human Gorilla Conflict Organization (HUGO), schools, Bwindi hospital or visit the Batwa community.
Beside mountain gorilla trekking, Buhoma is also credited for its exciting nature walks a trail which has been established and leads visitors up to the three water falls, identify most of butterflies, birds, trees and many primates and many more. You will be guided by one of the experienced guides after your breathtaking mountain gorilla adventures or engage in Buhoma village walk.
In conclusion, Buhoma sector is one of the perfect trailheads that you need to consider visiting while on gorilla safari in Uganda. With the above information, we believe that you will have the amazing time in Buhoma area.