The Ruhija sector is located in the Eastern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National park. It’s situated in the Easterly side of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and it is easily accessed from either Kabale or Buhoma. It is a habitat of a good number of mountain gorillas.
With the opening of the Bitukura group of gorillas in July 2008 no longer is Ruhija the preserve of the ardent birder. Birding enthusiasts had made up the majority of visitors to Ruhija in their quest to spot several Western Rift Valley endemics. The Green Broadbill is the top of all birders must see birds that come to Ruhija. The forest trail to the swamp must rate as one of the most spectacular day walks possible on the continent. The trail follows the crest of a ridge steeply down with uninterrupted views of virgin rain forest both left and right. On arrival on the valley floor irritating pin head sized insects attracted to your perspiration make dwelling too long to take in the aura of the spectacle akin to hell. The requirement for an insect repellent in the day pack is a prerequisite as is plenty of water for the trek back out again.
The Ruhija sector has four habituated gorilla groups and among them include Bitukura family, Oruzogo family, Kyaguriro group, Mukiza Group and so on. The Kyaguriro Gorilla group which was reserved for research has been fully habituated for gorilla tourism. Also note that 8 people are allowed to track the habituated gorilla family.
Compared to Buhoma sector, Ruhija has few gorilla groups compared to Buhoma sector. For the best ecotourism experience, Ruhija is one of the sectors you should not miss. Another advantage of gorilla tracking in Ruhija is its terrain that is not so much hilly if compared with Rushaga and Nkuringo. For the aged travelers, this is the best place to go trekking.
A part from Gorilla trekking, you can do birding watching in Ruhija sector. The park includes a primate walk where one is given a chance to enjoy a primate walk to spot out the white and black colobus monkeys that play all over the tree branches in this sector. Tourists with no money to trek Gorillas, at least go for birding or primate walk which are pocket friendly.
Ruhija sector is also located a few meters away from the Crater Lake of Bunyonyi-a beautiful area to relax after Gorilla trekking, you can do canoe ride on Lake Bunyonyi to relax to see more fascinating Lake of hills and islands, a perfect environment with local Batwa cultures.
Kabale to Ruhija 36 kms
Kabale/Kisoro junction to Ndego gate 13 km
Ndgego gate to Ruhija 13 km
Buhoma to Ruhija 59 km
This sector has three gorilla families which include;
- Bitukura Gorilla Family,
- Oruzogo Gorilla group and
- Kyaguriro Gorilla Group
- Mukiza Group
- Kyaguliro Group
The Kyaguliro Group is mainly for research. This therefore means that 16 gorilla permits are available every day and sometimes the research group is also trekked if you formally ask permission from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Please note that only 6 people instead of 8 people are allowed to track the Kyaguriro Research Group.
Due to the fact that, there few families in Ruhija, there is less congestion as compared to Buhoma which is more touristic in nature so Ruhija offers a more ecotourism experience compared to Buhoma.
Ruhija sector is positioned between Buhoma Gorilla sector to the north of the park and Kibale town to the south making the sector to be easily accessed from both parts of south and north. From Ruhija sector, clients can connect to Queen Elizabeth National Park which is the second largest National Park in Uganda after Murchison Fall National Park. This allows Tourists who want trek Gorillas have an ample time to do a game drive in the Ishasha sector as well as viewing the tree climbing lions.
Those self driving to Ruhija will find sections of the road quite challenging especially after heavy rain. The drive is very spectacular noteably the section between the turn off from the Kabale-Kisoro road up to Ruhija itself. If your reliant on public transport this is one of those nightmare to get to places. You most certainly have a mission on your hands that could involve some very long walks if time is not on your side.
Ruhija can be accessed from several angels. If you are coming from Kampala/Entebbe, it’s better to go through Kabale town and then proceed to Ruhija.
Others coming from Kampala can branch off at Ntungamo to Rukungiri, Kihihi, Butogota then drive another two hours to Ruhija.
All these routes requires a four wheel drive car as some sections of the road is rough, bumpy, dusty and during rainy seasons, they tend to get muddy.
There no direct flights to Ruhija so the only option is to fly via Kihihi which ideally is on Buhoma side and then drive two hours to Ruhija.
You can as well land in Kabale town using charter flights and then drive to Ruhija.
Top Things to Do
Apart from gorilla trekking, there are several other adventure activities that can be done in the Ruhija Sector. These include;
The Ruhija section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is popular for bird watching you might not find in other regions. The sector is also known for the Black and White Colobus monkeys that play all over the tree branches.
Any visit to Ruhija should include a must do bird walk a short distance from the ITFC Guest House. Follow the road down the hill from the Guest House to the junction to the Bitanwa Primary School and follow this track for 300 metres to a spur off the main track that leads you up a steep path onto a ridge. The path along which you return takes you through 500m of tropical forest where Regal Sunbirds abound and Doughtery’s Bush Shrike can be located.
Gorilla Tracking in Ruhija Sector
This area is not well developed in terms of accommodation facilities and other tourist activities apart from gorilla tracking, nature walks, hikes and birding. However, every year new accommodation facilities are constructed around Ruhija sector that suit the traveler’s pockets. The sector is comprised of the following gorilla groups;
The Oruzogo gorilla family:
This group boosts of more than 23 mountain gorillas with one silverback and it is famously known for tourists’ visit and not just for its size alone. This is attributed to its most fascinating and playful juveniles and toddlers that exist within the family and most visitors to this gorilla group are always never bored. Oruzogo gorilla family is one of the newly habituated and accessible groups for visitors in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Gorilla trekking in Oruzogo group began in 2011 and it was a great opportunity for most visitors in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Interested visitors to Oruzogo or gorilla groups within Ruhija sector are encouraged to stay around Buhoma sector which takes them about an hour drive to Ruhija sector for early morning briefing that begins at 6:00 am local time. This group isn’t all that breathtaking but visitors ought to be physically fit to hike.
Bitukura gorilla group:
Bitukura is the most peaceful gorilla group which is composed of 14 members including four silverbacks. They normally have a close bond and in most cases they organize family meetings or get togethers. Unlike other gorilla families, Bitukura gorilla group took approximately one and half years to get used to human presence. Previously, the group was made up of 24 gorillas but as a result of power struggles within the group, some members just choose to leave or split to form their own groups.
Where to Stay
Some of the accommodation facilities in the sector include Gift of Nature Lodge, Gorilla Mist Camp and Bakiga lodge among other lodges.