Situated suitably in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Nkuringo sector is incredibly one of the 4 main trailheads where treks kick start in this particular park. The others include Buhoma which is located in north, Ruhija in the east and Rushaga in the south. Nkuringo is remarkably one of the most popular sectors that provide amazing gorilla trekking experience to visitors on gorilla safari in Uganda. For a few of you who have taken initiative to track mountain gorillas within this sector, you can testify what this region has to offer.
Gorilla tracking commenced here in 2004 with 8 permits available per pay to visit what in known at the Nkuringo group. Pilot tracking commenced in July 2008 of the Nshongi group close to Rushaga some 17km from Nkuringo also in the southern sector of the park. The Nshongi group opened to visitors Septemebr 2009 where 8 permits are available per day. Two additional habituated groups namely Mishaya and Kahungye are also tracked from the Rushaga vistors reception.
The habituated gorilla family in this sector is Nkuringo which is the first to be habituated.
Why Go Gorilla Trekking in Nkuringo
The Nkuringo sector is found in the southern sector of the Bwindi Impenetrable national park and the home to the famous Nkuringo gorilla family group which is believed to be the most interesting group to visit with 19 gorilla family members and yet the most strenuous group to trek while in Uganda. A visit to the Nkuringo sector of the park, rewards visitors with great views of the magnificent scenery, landscapes of Kabale as well as the Nyiragongo and Nyimuragira of Congo. Nkuringo also allows only 8 visitors to its gorilla family group in a day. The Nkuringo gorilla family group is neighboured by the Nshongi gorilla family group near the Rushaga area of the park.
Nkuringo is about 45 kilo meters from the sign-posted junction on Kabale to Kisoro road and it’s usually 3 hours from Kabale. Moving from Kampala, Nkuringo can be accessed via the Kabale –Kisoro road using a bus and this lasts between 11- 12 hours. At Kisoro you can opt to hire a private vehicle to the Nkuringo sector of the forest.
Nkuringo sector can be reached via the Buhoma via Kihihi or Butogota on the daily bus from Kampala. It is necessary to take a private hire taxi from either Kihihi or Butogota to Buhoma. And in the morning, enjoy a forest nature walk through the park to the Nkuringo sector which may last between 5 and 7 hours.
Apart from Mountain gorilla tracking in this sector, you will enjoy a Forest Nature Walk normally done in the morning hours to and from the Nkuringo and Buhoma sectors of the Bwindi forest via the Ivy and Kashasha rivers bringing you to the Buhoma area by lunch time.
You can also visit the Batwa Pygmies, discovering more about their ways of life and their diverse cultural practices like hunting, fishing within the forest. They also entertain visitors with their traditional music and dance, storytelling etc.
While at this sector, visitors a treated to the best scenic and birding sights where they will have a ride on Lake Mutanda using the dugout wooden canoe to the other side enjoying the beautiful sights of bird species with in the forest at the same time viewing the scenic views of the Virunga Volcanoes Lying on the Uganda – Rwanda border.
What Makes Nkuringo An Exceptional Destination?
Hikes and treks in this region provide the most challenging gorilla watching experiences within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. For those of you who are good at photo taking, Nkuringo is that one perfect place you should pay a visit while on gorilla safari in Uganda. It comes with breathtaking views of the surrounding areas including the Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira volcanoes of the Virunga National Park thus rewarding travel endeavors with magical experiences. At a time of habituation, the group comprised of 19 members but later reduced to 12 individuals and it is open to 8 visitors. It was habituated in 1997 and in 2004 the group welcomed a set of twins in December. The group is led by rafiki silverback. The other is Bushaho group which is composed of 8 individuals and some of its members belonged to Nkuringo family. It is led by Bahati silverback and derived its name from the word Bushaho-a topo name of the locality where it foraged. It includes 1 black back, 1 sub-adult, 1 juvenile, 1 infant and 3 (three) female gorillas. Bushaho is one of the 2 only groups where gorilla habituation experience is conducted worldwide. This is one unique primate adventure that makes this sector exceptional besides its remarkable and challenging experiences.
The other newly habituated group in Nkuringo sector and now open for tourism is Christmas. This group is led by Christmas silverback with about 9 members and includes 6 individuals that are normally spotted and others.
A side from gorilla treks, Nkuringo area is also ideal for nature or forest walks. For nature lovers, you can take part in this activity in the morning and evening at beginning point. If you are coming from Buhoma area, you can use the Kabale Butogota-Buhoma then connect to Nkuringo route. Nature/forest walks allow you to explore variety of primates like monkeys, baboons as well as forest pigs and many more.
Birding-this sector is also ideal for birding where you will have a chance to spot out birds like African emerald cuckoo, white tailed blue flycatchers, short tailed warbler, yellow eyed black catcher, Kivu ground thrush, Africa blue flycatcher , yellow eyed black flycatcher, garners warblers, African blue flycatcher, black bee-eaters a mention but a few. You need to be prepared with your gear especially with the binoculars for excellent views over the varied bird species.
For cultural enthusiasts, you have a chance to engage in cultural encounters especially while in the Batwa and Bakiga community villages. While on cultural safari in this area, you have opportunity to explore more on local traditions, norms and cultures. There are well-trained guides to take you through the banana plantations and other gardens that make it amazing while you wind through the community trails. On cultural tour in this community, you have a chance to enjoy the unique traditional dances, songs and poems from local performers. There are also a number of amazing activities you can engage in while on cultural tour in the Batwa and Bakiga community.
How to Get There
Nkuringo is 45 kms from the sign-posted junction on Kabale to Kisoro road. The travel time from Kabale is 3 hours.
For those travelling by public means Nkuringo is accessed from the Kabale – Kisoro road. Take the public bus from Kampala to Kisoro a 500KM journey, approximately 11 hours. On arrival in Kisoro you will need to arrange a private hire vehicle to take you to Nkuringo some 90 minutes journey (39 kms) Ushs90,000- each way.
Public transport to and from Kisoro is available on Monday’s and Thursday’s, market days in Kisoro. The vehicle leaves Nkuringo at first light in the morning. The vehicle returns to Nkuringo from Rubuguri Car Parking Yard at Mr Kanyaruju House on Mutanda road. The one way fare is Ushs4,000-. Please note this vehicle is transporting villagers and their goods so is not for people expecting any degree of comfort.
Visitors can also get to Nkuringo by travelling to Buhoma via Kihihi or Butogota on the daily bus from Kampala. It is necessary to take a private hire taxi from either Kihihi or Butogota to Nuhoma. After staying in Buhoma one night the next day walk through the park 12kms 5 to 7 hours to Nkuringo with Nkuringo Walking Safaris. You can return the same way or proceed to Kisoro. National Park and UWA ranger/guide fees must be paid.
Where to stay in Nkuringo area
There are many accommodation options for overnight stay in Nkuringo. They range from budget to luxury. They include Nkuringo gorilla camp, Nkuringo gorilla lodge, Hammerkop bunkhouse, Nkuringo gorilla campsite and many more.
In conclusion, a visit to Nkuringo sector rewards travel endeavors with variety of most thrilling adventure experience. On a safari in this allows you to engage in a number of activities including gorilla trekking, habituation experience, bird watching, nature walks or forest walks, cultural encounters and others.