Buhoma Sector is one of the gorilla trekking sectors in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which is liked by most travellers for its calm gorilla groups and the fact that it is not hard to trek.
The reason why I would trek Gorillas in Buhoma sector
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is Uganda’s most visited park for its habituated mountain gorillas. The park is divided into 4 sectors and Buhoma sector is one of those sectors. Buhoma is located in the Northern part of Bwindi Impenetrable national park in Kanungu district on the fascinating dense, evergreen and hilly areas of the region. Buhoma sector is recognised as the main sector of gorilla trekking sector given its history. It was the very first sector to be opened for gorilla trekking and is mentioned to have been a place where gorilla trekking started in Africa even before Congo and Rwanda in 1993 immediately Bwindi Impenetrable national park was gazetted as a national park.
Buhoma sector has the oldest habituated gorilla family called Mubare family which was first visited by the very first group of tourists in Bwindi. This family had 18 members with a silverback named Ruhondeza and given his ageing situation, he could not keep the family together, so other members moved to other areas, hence forming other gorilla families and by the time Ruhondeza dead, the family only had 4 members however the introduction of other silverbacks helped to increase the numbers of members to at least 9 members.
Buhoma sector currently has 3 more gorilla families namely; Habinyanja, Katwe and Rushegura. Katwe gorilla families which were recently introduced for visitors to trek while Rushengera and Habinyanja were among the old grouped for. Rushengura family was made available for visitors to trek by the year 2000 and has about 16 members while Habinyanja has about 19 members and it was available for trekking in 1997.
Due to this background, Buhoma has been the most visited sector and has the most competitive sector for gorilla permits. Of all the 4 sectors, Buhoma has always the first sector to sell out its gorilla permits even if it does not have the highest numbers of gorillas and so for visitors interested in visiting this particular sector, you are advised to book your gorilla permit 5 months prior your trekking date. A gorilla permit in Bwindi Impenetrable national park has been increased to 700$ per person from 600$ per person. Buhoma also has a number of attractions that make it an outstanding destination besides gorilla trekking including;
Buhoma Community Village
When staying in Buhoma sector for the gorilla trekking, travellers’ can utilize their free time after trekking gorillas with the Buhoma community also have an opportunity of visiting and supporting the communities around the park area. There are different community projects set up and have enabled the locals to get involved in tourism as a source of income to their families by simply doing projects like making of crafts, baskets weaving, and beekeeping, these have supported the local livelihood of the communities as source of employment some of whom are porters for gorilla trekking in the park. Visitors who visit these projects are also given an opportunity to participate in these activities and also participate in the entertainment provided by the community as a way to make them feel your involvement in their activities. The community projects help to generate a balance between the environment, wildlife conservation and sustainability development in the Bwindi at large. Besides this Bakiga community, there is also the Batwa community, an indigenous community who were transferred from settling in the forest for the conservation of the Mountain gorillas. The Batwa community tour demonstrates the lifestyle of the Batwa people in their culture and traditions.
Nature walks are unique activities that take you through the impenetrable forest. A forest walk is the better way to discover the forest and its features like the waterfalls, rivers, caves and rocks. During the walk, you are given a ranger guide who will guide you through the forest. Learn about the tree species and expect to find some bird species located in the park in their sweet sounds singing up on the trees, also expect to encounter some animals in the forest.
How to access the Buhoma sector
Buhoma sector is located in Bwindi Impenetrable national park. It is a 3 hours’ drive from Kabale district via Kanungu district. This route is basically used by travellers’ driving from Kampala City or Entebbe. Visitors are recommended to spare a full day driving from Entebbe to Buhoma sector because it is quite a long drive taking about 8 to 9 hours on the road through Masaka- Mbarara-Ntungamo-Rukungiri-Kabale-Buhoma route. The drive is scenic with great adventure, stopping at the equator for pictures and the rolling hills of the Kigezi region. Buhoma sector can also be accessed via the Ishasha sector in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth national park. Driving through the Ishasha sector is an added advantage for the visitors as they get an opportunity to encounter the tree-climbing lions. It is a 4 to 5 hours’ drive through the marram road. By Air, buhoma sector can be accessed directly to Kihihi airstrip where you can drive a few kilometres to the park. Aerolink Uganda operates daily domestic flights twice a day to Buhoma sector that is the 7 am and 12 pm flight schedules. Ensure to book your flight ticket in advance. An air ticket costs 273USD per person on a one-way ticket and no return ticket; it is 452USD per person.
Accommodations in Buhoma sector
Given that the Buhoma sector was the first sector to be opened for gorilla trekking experience, a number of lodges where constructed in this sector mostly the luxury lodges which serve the high-quality services. Other existing types of accommodations include mid-range and budget accommodations. The cost of services varies from lodges depending on the quality of service and facilities offered by a given lodge. Lodges are constructed to suit the environmental nature of the forest protecting the eco-system of the forest. Some of the Luxury lodges found in Buhoma sector include; Buhoma lodge, Mahogany springs lodge, Bwindi lodge, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Silverback Safari lodge, and Engagi lodge to mentions a few. Mid-range lodges that can be found in Buhoma Haven lodge and Animalia Gorilla lodge and restaurant to mention but a few. Budget lodges include; Ride for a woman lodge, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, and Bwindi view Bandas. All these lodges have access to the gorilla trekking start points are aware by the guides making it easier to reach the park head offices in time for the briefing.
In conclusion, a gorilla safari experience in Buhoma sector is an everlasting memorial experience for a traveller to Bwindi Impenetrable national park with excellent accommodation facilities and with the easiest accessibility making it one of the best destination for gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable national park.