Rushaga is a top destination for gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and it is the only place where you can participate in the unique Gorilla Habituation Experience, which allows you to spend 4 hours with the mountain gorillas. In addition to gorilla trekking, you can also enjoy activities such as birdwatching, hiking, village visits, and cultural interactive experiences like hands-on craft-making. Rushaga is home to the most gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and it is located in one of the park’s most scenic areas. New lodges have recently been built in the southern part of Bwindi Forest, offering more accommodation options and things to do and see. Some people even believe that Rushaga and Nkuringo will eventually surpass Buhoma, Uganda’s original gorilla tracking area, in popularity. Rushaga’s popularity is due in part to its accessibility – it is only a 4-hour drive from Kigali and the gorilla trekking permits are only 700 USD, compared to Rwanda’s 1500 USD. For the same price in Rushaga, you get four hours with a gorilla family, while in Rwanda you only get one hour. Rushaga has more permits available for trekking than any other area in Bwindi Forest, and it offers a range of trekking options with trails suitable for different fitness levels. In cases where trekkers have disabilities, sedan chairs with porters are available to carry them. The porters are a team of 12 individuals who have successfully carried all of their passengers so far. This service is not demeaning, but rather provides a good income for the porters and their families.
The Gorilla Habituation Experience is a unique opportunity available only in Uganda’s Rushaga region of Bwindi National Park. This full-day activity allows you to spend four hours with a habituated gorilla family, accompanied by researchers, trackers, and other staff. The experience includes a hike to and from the group and is sure to be a memorable one.
Due to the limited number of permits, the Gorilla Habituation Experience requires more advanced planning. Only four permits are available per group of habituated gorillas in the Rushaga area. The cost for these permits is 1,500 USD, the same price as a one-hour visit with a gorilla family in Rwanda. Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Traveling to Rushaga from Kigali, Rwanda by Road
Your safari begins at 6:30 am with a pickup from your hotel or the Kigali Airport. The drive to Rushaga in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest takes approximately 4 hours, depending on the length of time spent at the border crossing.
You will need to have obtained a visa in advance, either the $50 Uganda visa or the $100 East African visa which includes entry to Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya. Both visas can be obtained online. In addition, you will need to present a Yellow Fever certificate for entry into Uganda.
The border crossing process usually takes 30-45 minutes, after which you will be on your way to the ancient Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Officials on both sides will try to make the process as smooth as possible for tourists.
Please note that it takes 9-10 hours to reach the Rushaga area from Entebbe or Kampala. The route from Kigali to Bwindi is known for its beautiful, scenic views of the rolling, terraced hills of Rwanda and Uganda.
We will pick you up at your hotel in Entebbe at around 6:15 am for your 7:00 am departure with AeroLink Airline to Kisoro. The flight takes about 90 minutes, with a brief stopover at the Kihihi Airstrip.
Upon arriving in Kisoro, you will meet your driver-guide who will take you to your lodge in the Rushaga region of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The drive time from Kisoro to the Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge is about 45 minutes.
Please note that there is a 15 kg weight restriction for your flight. Any excess baggage will incur an additional charge of $6. To save on baggage weight, we recommend wearing your gorilla trekking gear, including rain jacket and hiking boots, on the flight.
The Rushaga – Nkuringo region offers a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets, from exclusive lodges to more budget-friendly options.
At the top of the list is the luxurious Clouds Mountain Lodge. Other upscale choices include the Gorilla Safari Lodge and Chameleon Hill Lodge, which both offer stunning views of Lake Mutanda.
For more moderate options, there is the Gand Mutanda Lake Resort and the newer Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge, which overlooks Lake Mulehe and the Virunga volcano chain.
Budget-friendly accommodation can be found at the Travellers Rest Hotel in Kisoro, or additional options can be arranged in the nearby town of Rubuguri
The Rushaga area of Bwindi Forest offers a variety of hiking trails for all skill levels. The Kapata Trail is a 3-hour route that combines nature, local history, and culture. For a moderate challenge, try the Kara Ridge Trail, which offers panoramic views of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Rubuguri, as well as insights into the local culture and traditions, including the indigenous Batwa people. The Six-Hour 360-degree trail is a more challenging route that offers breathtaking views of the Congo, Rwanda, and the surrounding Uganda region.
There are also well-known trails through Bwindi Forest that start or end in Kisoro, some of which include canoeing on Lake Mutanda. Hiking in and around Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is becoming increasingly popular among trekkers.”
One cultural activity not to be missed is the Buniga Forest Walk with the Batwa Pygmies, who have lived in the area for over 500,000 years and are the original inhabitants of the forest.
Other options include village walks, home visits, and hands-on craft activities. Be sure to purchase some locally made arts and crafts to take home with you, which will not only benefit you but also the people who made them and their families.
If you are interested in additional cultural activities, such as dancing, drumming, and jewelry making, let us know, and we will facilitate your request.
The Buniga Forest Walk is a great way to learn more about the Batwa people, the first inhabitants of the forest.