Gorilla trekking Uganda - A Mountain Gorilla safari in Buhoma (Bwindi)
This blog follows on from our first about Gorilla Trekking in Uganda to see families of Mountain Gorillas . In this installment we focus on Buhoma (Bwindi) in Uganda. With information about how hard the trekking is, the size of the Gorilla families and other local activities which can be added on to maximise your Uganda wildlife tour.
Gorilla Trekking first started in Uganda back in April 1993, as part of efforts to conserve Mountain Gorillas in the country and bring much valuble foreign income into a country with very little resources. The first location chosen for such Gorilla Safaris was Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Tourists basically follow in the footsteps of scientific researchers, who by their daily walks and interactions with the Gorilla families habituate the animals to humans and allow for stunning observation of the Silverback Male Gorilla and his family members for just a few metres away.
There are currently three different Mountain Gorilla family groups which can be trekked from Buhoma (gateway to Bwindi Forest). The first Gorilla family to be habituated for tourism was the Mubare Group, which used to consist of around 18 individuals, but due to other silverbacks leaving with other gorillas has shrunk to only 5 members, with the dominant silverback mountain gorilla for many years being Ruhondeza Silverback male (died 27 June 2012 aged 50+); possibly the oldest gorilla in Bwindi. We then have the Rushegura Gorilla family which currently has 19 members and is led by a 25 year old (estimate) old Silverback called Mwirima. Then finally we have the Habinyanja Gorilla family which has suffered some terrible poaching incidents over the years, but still has a healthy 17 family members and one dominant Silverback called Makara.
It is often possible to trek directly from the UWA Park Headquarters at Buhoma - this can be just a few hundred metres from your lodge accommodation - to Gorilla families such as the Habinyanja group; which can also sometimes be seen from your cottage. If they are feeding above in the forest, be prepared for an initial steep climb of arojnd 45 minutes to an hour of vegetated slopes which can be slippy. After that the going is demanding due to the thick forest, nettles and brambles; but exhilerating in equal measure. Generally it takes around 2-3 hours to reach the gorilla families and then a further 1-2 hours to return to your accommodation.
Additional acitivities out of Buhoma which can be organised include guided birding trails along the famous waterfall trails, trekking with the Batwa peoples and visits to community hospitals and other local NGO's. Please take a look at our many different options for gorilla trekking in Uganda and please contact us so we can design your ideal gorilla safari in Uganda.