Uganda Gorilla Families & Pros of the Buhoma Region in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Situated in Southwestern Uganda in Kanungu district, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is one of the most important Uganda safari destinations that are flocked by thousands of tourists every year. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is characterized by a bio-diverse forested mountainous area that habits the unique endangered mountain gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable forest is home to half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas totalling to about 459 out of 1004. The remaining numbers of mountain gorillas live in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda, Virunga National Park Congo and in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. Being home to two mountain gorilla safari destinations makes Uganda the world’s biggest destination that offers Uganda gorilla safaris and Africa gorilla safaris at large.

bwindi forest national park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was also ranked the best birding spot by Africa bird club, the leading organization that concerned itself with the conservation and study of Africa’s birds. Bwindi forest national park area is an Important Birding Area although it is famous for its thrilling Uganda gorilla safaris. The forest is placed in the diverse Kigezi area surrounded by rolling hills and beautiful scenery that gets tourists on Uganda safaris wowed.

The altitude variation of the forest ranging between 1,190-2,600m on both mountain and lowland areas that give a variety of habitat for different bird species. It is home to about 350-bird species including 23 out of the 24 Albertine rift endemics and 14 not recorded anywhere else in Uganda but in this forest.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park covers 331sqkm (128sqmi) making it the largest forest area in East Africa. Due to the fact that it is a huge forest, has been divided into four gorilla regions of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. In this article, we are going to unleash for you the Buhoma region.

About the Buhoma Gorilla Trekking Safari Region

The Buhoma region is the most popular Uganda gorilla trekking safari region as it was the first place in Uganda where gorilla trekking started. Buhoma has only four gorilla families and the first group of tourists to trek gorillas in Uganda was in the Buhoma region of Bwindi National Park in 1993. This makes gorillas in Buhoma region the oldest habituated gorilla family in the whole of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and this family is called Mubare group.

Mubare gorilla family in Buhoma currently has 9 members, a factor highly attributed to the Late Ruhondeza who was the head of the family that died in 2013. Ruhondeza had grown older and could not effectively defend the family which resulted in break ways that later weakened the family. By the time of Ruhondezas’ death, the family had only 4 members but after his death, then new silverback embarked on an aggressive campaign that has seen the group captures some individuals from other families to the tune of nine members. It is believed that with the ambition of the new silverback, the family is likely to grow on numbers.

Bwindi Impenetrable National parkHabinyanja Gorilla Family was habituated in 1997 and the first group of tourists tracked this gorilla family in 1999. The gorilla habituation process takes a period of 2 years. Habinyanja Group derives its name from a Rukiga word “Nyanja” which means “ a place with water”. The reason is that it was first seen near swamp ponds in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. During habituation, Mugurusi (which is means “Old man” in Rikiga), the dominant silverback then was the dominant silverback amidst his old age. During the habituation process, Mugurusi was commanding a big group of over 30 members which is quite big compared to other families, those habituated and not. Mugurusi’s age was worn out so he passed away. At the time of Mugurusi’s death, the family had four silverbacks waiting in the cue of who would succeed their father. This caused succession disputes as the siblings were fighting for leadership of the family. These silverbacks were Rwansigazi which means “The youthful boy”, Mwirima which means “darkness” and then Makara “Charcoal”.

Rwansigazi being bigger was supposed to succeed Mukurisi but at the time of his death, Mwirima had equally grown stronger and thus wanted to challenge for family leadership. There was no agreement among the two for several years so Rwansigazi and Mwirima shared power after their fathers’ death. The family remained as a unit under the leadership of these two brothers, the time came when incompatible differences among the two brothers were soon or later to cause separation of this once big family. Rwanzigazi was adventurous and liked travelling for long-distance while Mwirima who like his dad Mugurisi preferred a small range. Prominent members of Habinyanja family are, Makara, Rwansigazi, Maraya, Kisho, Nabukye, Binyonko, Rugyendi, Nyamuhango, Elsa, Hamusini, Hakato, Gacyaro and Bangenyi.

Rushegura gorilla family was habituated in 2000 and opened to clients for gorilla tracking in 2002. It was being led by Mwirima. He parted ways with his brother, Rwansigazi who was famous for taking the gorillas on distant ranging expeditions, while Mwirima preferred shorter ranges. Because of this, the family broke away from the Habinyanja gorilla family after the death of their father, a silverback called Mugurusi. The Rushegura family, led by the late Mwirima, a strong-massive silverback, formed his own family. He carried away with him seven gorillas who became family but he later passed on and a strong black back called Mwirima; a son to the late Mukurusi took over. The Late Mwirima had a determination to find a large stable family that he worked to achieve it and by April 2010, the individuals had increased to 19 from the original 8. He is on record to have sired a number of offsprings so far. With the death of Mwirima in 2014, an influential black back Kabukojo has taken over control of the family.

Katwe gorilla group is the newest gorilla family in Buhoma region of Bwindi impenetrable National park.  three years to habituate and complete Katwe gorilla family located in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. According to reliable sources, Katwe gorilla family or group located in the northern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has one dominant silverback, two babies and four adult females.

Benefits of Trekking Gorillas in the Buhoma Region

Buhoma Region is Easier to Access from Kampala

The Buhoma region is the easiest region to access especially for travellers that start their safari in Uganda from Kampala compared to other regions situated in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This region is approximately 550 km from Kampala. To get there you will drive about 8-9 hours.  

bwindi forest national park

It is Closer to Other National Parks in Uganda

Buhoma is closer to the southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda popularly known as Ishasha. After your gorilla trekking safari Uganda, there is only a 2 hours’ drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park (Ishasha sector). At this point, tourists have an opportunity of taking a Uganda wildlife safari game drive to view animals in the wild such as the popular tree climbing Lions. Or tourists can drive up to 4 hours to the Mweya section of Queen Elizabeth National Park for the popular boat cruise on Kazinga channel that is praised for having the highest concentration of hippos in the whole world. The Kazinga channel also has over 600 species of birds and is the best place to view most of the wildlife as they flock the channel to drink water. In conclusion, the Buhoma region remains the closest to parks like Queen Elizabeth National Park, Rwenzori Mountains National Park and Kibale National Park where chimpanzee trekking safaris Uganda is done.

Buhoma Region has Numerous Uganda Safari Accommodation Options

sanctuary forest gorilla camp
sanctuary forest gorilla camp

Buhoma region has more Uganda safari accommodation options compared to other regions in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. These suit all travellers’ options ranging from budget, mid-range, and luxury accommodation options. Some of the Uganda safari Lodges in Buhoma region include; Gorilla Forest Camp, Bwindi Volcano Lodge, Buhoma Lodge or Mahogany Springs, Engagi Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Gorilla Resort and Buhoma Community Rest Camp.  

It is Easier to Connecting to Other Regions of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Nature Walks in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

From the Buhoma section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda, it is easy to connect to the Ruhija region situated in the eastern side of Bwindi. In case there is a gorilla permit scarcity, one can sleep in Buhoma and do a Uganda gorilla trekking safari in Ruhija. It is approximately 2 hours’ drive from Buhoma to Ruhija.

It is also easy to access the southern side of Bwindi (Nkuringo) from Buhoma by taking a walk through the middle of the forest. This trail is called the Nkuringo safari walk and takes up to three hours. You may just decide to take a walk to visit the southern section of Bwindi through the forest in case you have a relaxed itinerary.

Apart from gorilla trekking safaris Uganda, Buhoma is the best region to enjoy a forest/Nature walk as certain trails have been carefully developed to be used as tourists penetrate into the forest. During the forest walks, tourists do a free birding safari in Uganda’s Bwindi forest. You can also spot several butterfly species, trees species and other primates. Alternatively, you can go for the popular Buhoma Village walk so you can interact with the Batwa community people; one of the indigenous tribes in Uganda.

Best time to safari Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The best time of the year for Mountain gorilla trekking tour in Uganda is during the dry months of June to September and December to February when the trails are more passable. In the dry season trekking hours are long since the gorillas are not in the lowlands hiding and pictures are clearer so it’s more exciting and adventurous since you get a walk in a bigger portion of the forest. These seasons are the best though big numbers of tourists come to visit the park, therefore, it is advisable to book your permit early with your tour company.

With the big number of tourists to the area, accommodation in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park can be accessed and these range from budget, mid-range or luxury. Go gorilla trekking in Uganda for it is one of the rewarding activities to undertake on an Africa tour.

If you’re a typical primate lover, you can add a chimpanzee trekking safari to your Uganda tour itinerary during your wildlife safari in Uganda so you visit Kibale Forest National Park which is the best chimp tracking destination in the world(primate capital of the world). Our popular 3 days Uganda Gorilla safari in Bwindi is one of the short Uganda safaris recommended for travellers that have limited time in Uganda or for a Uganda trip while we recommend, you can tailor a gorilla trekking safari in Bwindi with a wildlife safari in Kenya, Tanzania safari, Congo safari or Rwanda wildlife safari for a great East Africa safari experience.