Nestled in the serene southwestern region of Uganda, on the fringes of the Great Rift Valley, lies the magnificent Rushaga mountain gorilla region within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This remarkable area, covering an expanse of 321 square kilometers, showcases an elevation ranging from 1,160 to 2,607 meters. It is famously shrouded in mist, characterized by a lush rainforest that has thrived for over 25,000 years and is teeming with nearly 600 species of plants. Most significantly, this “impenetrable forest” serves as the guardian of approximately 600 mountain gorillas, a population that constitutes over half of the world’s total. Among them, several gorilla groups are habituated and available for tracking.
This biologically diverse region extends its hospitality to an additional 120 mammal species, including a variety of primates such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as majestic elephants and graceful antelopes. Furthermore, this rainforest harbors around 350 species of avian residents, with 23 of them being exclusive to the Albertine Rift.
In 1993, due to the park’s vital role in the conservation of nearly half of the global mountain gorilla population, Uganda National Parks (which later evolved into Uganda Wildlife Authority) acquired a parcel of land from the Batwa people, the original protectors of the Bwindi forest. This additional land, spanning 4 square kilometers, was incorporated into the park. In 1994, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park earned its place on the esteemed World Heritage List. As part of this change, the management of the park shifted to Uganda Wildlife Authority. Moreover, in 2003, an adjacent land plot covering an area of 4.2 square kilometers was acquired and integrated into the park’s boundaries.
Situated in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the Rushaga mountain gorilla region shares its home with Nkuringo Region in Kisoro District. This area hosts several captivating gorilla families, adding to the allure of the region. Some of the notable gorilla families within the Rushaga sector include Nshongi, Mishaya, Busingye, Kahungye, Bweza, Kutu, Muchunguzi, and Bikingi.
The Rushaga mountain gorilla region stands as a land of high hills and rugged terrain, which has influenced the dispersal and separation of habituated gorilla families to occupy different hills across the region. The undulating landscape of the area not only offers tourists a sense of adventure but also treats them to breathtaking scenic vistas. At certain vantage points, you can catch glimpses of the Virunga mountain range spanning both Rwanda and Uganda, which includes the prominent peaks of Mgahinga, Muhavura, Sabinyo, Karisimbi, and Bisoke.
Adding to the region’s charm is Lake Mutanda, one of only two lava-dammed lakes in Uganda. Here, you have the opportunity to partake in a delightful canoe ride on the tranquil waters, either before or after your awe-inspiring gorilla trekking experience.
The Rushaga mountain gorilla region epitomizes the harmonious coexistence of diverse landscapes and captivating wildlife, making it an extraordinary destination for nature enthusiasts and adventurers alike.