Buhoma, the sector headquarters located in the north of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, is a prime destination for viewing gorillas. The Uganda Wildlife Authority manages the Buhoma region, where it is possible to visit habituated gorilla families and obtain permits for tracking. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to half of the remaining gorillas in the world, making it a must-see destination for anyone interested in these amazing animals. Gorilla tracking involves hiking through the forest to find the gorillas and observing them for one hour. The activity begins with a briefing at the park headquarters, where visitors are given guidelines for interacting with the gorillas.. It is possible to hire a porter to assist with carrying belongings and provide support during the hike, which can be strenuous. Seeing gorillas, which are genetically 95% similar to humans, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should not be missed. To visit the gorillas in Buhoma, consider booking a tour with Trek Africa Tours.
Gorilla tracking is available in four sectors of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Rushaga and Nkuringo in the south, and Ruhija and Buhoma in the north. Each sector is home to different habituated gorilla families that can be tracked daily. Gorilla families are similar to human families in that the male leaves the family he was born into, establishes his own territory, and starts a family with a female. Occasionally, there may be conflict within the family group, leading to the splitting of the family. When a new member is born, the Uganda Wildlife Authority names them and informs the park guides, who can tell visitors the names of the members of the gorilla family they are tracking. Trekking gorillas is a truly wonderful experience, and Trek Africa Tours can help organize tours to the Buhoma sector, including a three-day or four-day gorilla tracking trip.
The Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is considered the birthplace of gorilla tourism in Uganda and is home to five habituated gorilla family groups:
The Mubare gorilla family, consisting of eight members and a newborn baby, was the first group to be introduced to gorilla tourism in Buhoma, which is located in the Mubare hills of Kanungu district. This region is within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. While searching for the gorillas, visitors may encounter rough terrain such as slippery ground and varying elevations in the forest.
The Rushegura gorilla family is another one of the first habituated groups available for tracking. The group has 16 members. While the trek to find these gorillas can sometimes take anywhere from 30 minutes to over 4 hours, the park guides and trackers will do their best to make the journey enjoyable by pointing out other primates, birds, streams, and plant species along the way. It is important to note that the movements of gorillas in the forest cannot be predicted, so the time it takes to locate them cannot be determined in advance.
The Habinyanja gorilla family, one of the first habituated groups in Buhoma, currently has 14 members. It is important to note that the size of a gorilla family can fluctuate due to various factors such as the formation of new families through splitting, the addition of new members through birth or raiding other groups, or the loss of members due to death. Conservation efforts are crucial for the future of gorillas, as Uganda is home to half of the world’s remaining gorilla population. Ensuring the maintenance and growth of these families is vital for future generations.
The Muyambi gorilla family is a relatively new group, having been formed earlier this year. It currently consists of 6 members, all of whom were previously part of the Mubare family. The Muyambi group split off from the Mubare family to form its own. Observing these gorillas as they go about their daily activities, such as eating, communicating, resting, and moving both on the ground and in the trees, is a truly amazing experience.
The Katwe gorilla family is a newer group that emerged in 2018 and was habituated for tracking three years later. It currently has 8 members. The growth of gorilla families like the Katwe group helps to increase the number of available gorilla permits, leading to an increase in the number of visitors. This can provide more opportunities for tracking even during high season. Encounter Africa Safaris is pleased to offer various gorilla tour packages, such as a 3-day Uganda Gorilla tour and a 4-day Uganda Double Gorilla Tracking tour. If you are interested in planning a trip, please send us an email, and we will provide all necessary information and help customize your trip.
When planning your trip with Trek Africa tours, your driver-guide will consider your fitness level, interests, and overall health when determining the difficulty of your trek. If you are not in good physical condition or are of advanced age, you may request an easier trek by visiting a gorilla family that is closer. Alternatively, if you have a specific gorilla family that you would like to track, you may request to visit them by name. We will communicate your request to the park guides and authorities to see if it can be accommodated.
Gorilla permits are required for tracking gorillas in the Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. A total of 40 permits are available each day in Buhoma, allowing for a maximum of 8 visitors per family per day. When you book a gorilla package with Encounter Africa Safaris, we will send you an invoice and tentatively reserve your permit on the system. Once payment is made, we will secure your permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s head office in Kampala and send you a scanned copy for your records. Approximately one week before your trip, we will collect the physical permit cards and your driver-guide will present them at the park headquarters on the day of the trek to allow you to participate.
Please note that gorilla permits are only available to visitors aged 15 years or older. It is highly recommended to book your permits in advance, as they can be purchased up to two years ahead of time and tend to sell out quickly during peak season (July, August, September, December, January, and February). To ensure that you don’t miss out on your desired travel date, Encounter Africa Safaris advises all travelers to book and reserve their permits early.
Gorilla tracking permits in Buhoma, within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, currently cost USD 700 per person per trek. These permits allow for one hour of viewing and photography once the gorillas have been located in the forest. Despite this price increase, gorilla permits in Buhoma and Uganda are still relatively inexpensive compared to those in Rwanda, which cost USD 1500 for one hour of tracking. If you have any questions about gorilla families or permits in the Buhoma region, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
As the center of gorilla tourism in Uganda, Buhoma has a wide range of accommodation options ranging from budget to luxury. Encounter Africa will book the best lodge for you based on your budget and availability, ensuring that you have access to an en-suite private toilet and bathroom, power, Wi-Fi, and standard services as per your chosen gorilla tour package. Some options to consider in Buhoma include the budget Buhoma Community Rest Camp, the midrange Buhoma Havens, the luxury Buhoma Lodge, Bwindi Lodge, and Mahogany Springs, and the upmarket Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp. All of these lodges offer beautiful views of the forest and provide a calm and comfortable atmosphere for your stay.
The Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park can be reached by road from Kampala/Entebbe, a journey of approximately 8-9 hours. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to see the beautiful landscape, pass through the Equator, and observe local people and shops. Alternatively, you can also access Buhoma from Kigali in about 5-6 hours.
Buhoma is conveniently located near several other attractions, including Queen Elizabeth National Park, the Ishasha Sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale National Park, and Rwenzori National Park. It is possible to combine a visit to Buhoma with game safaris, mountain climbing, and gorilla tracking in a customized package tailored to your desired travel dates.
“If you prefer to travel by air, you can fly to Kihihi Airstrip, which is located near Buhoma in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Daily domestic flights are available from various airline companies. We can also help you book your flights to Buhoma and arrange transportation to your lodge once you land. Another option is to take a flight from Kihihi Airstrip to Masai Mara in Kenya, allowing you to easily continue your safari adventure in East Africa. Keep in mind that Kihihi Airstrip is close to the park headquarters and all of the lodges in the area.
If you want to learn more about the Buhoma gorilla families and how to obtain permits, contact Trek Africa Tours. We are a trusted tour operator for Uganda and Rwanda, and we offer tours ranging from two days to over a month in length. Just let us know your interests, budget, and time frame, and we will customize a safari that fits your preferences and provides a truly memorable experience. Trek Africa Tours is highly rated on Trip Advisor and other safari booking sites.