Nkuringo sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National park is one of the sectors of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and is situated in the Southern part of the Bwindi which is a home to the endangered mountain gorillas therefore Bwindi is a popular destination for Gorilla trekking since it harbors half of the world’s remaining gorilla population.
Nkuringo sector has the least number of the habituated gorilla families including the Nkuringo gorilla family, Bushaho gorilla family, Christmas gorilla family and Posho gorilla family which is still under habituation and it is famous for harboring the most popular dominant silverback gorilla Rafiki who died in 2020 in the hands of the poachers.
There are 3 gorilla families that are ready for trekking in the Nkuringo sector which are Nkuringo family, Bushaho family and the Christmas group and one gorilla family that is under habituation and that is Posho gorilla family therefore Nkuringo sector has four gorilla groups. All these three fully habituated groups are allowed to be trekked by 8 people per day and before one goes to trek he o she must have attained a gorilla permit. A gorilla permit in Nkuringo sector costs 600dollars to the foreign residents, 250000shs to the East African Residents and 700dollars to the foreign non residents. There are about twenty four trekking gorilla permits available per day. These gorilla trekking permits are booked or acquired from the main offices of the Uganda Wildlife Authority. One should note that minimum age of a person who can do gorilla trekking is 15 years. Gorilla trekking in this sector starts very early in the morning and starts with briefing at the headquarters about the rules and regulations, expectations. At 8am you will start trekking in the jungle with the park guide who will be giving you all the information you need to know about the mountain gorillas and the forest as well and two armed game rangers. Gorilla trekking in this sector takes about 2- 6 hours in the jungle and if a certain family is being found visitors will be allowed to spend only one hour with the gorilla family. This is so because too much stay might inconvenience and the gorillas might get agitated by the over stay.
Visiting Nkuringo can be done any time one wishes this mean all year around. But the best and perfect time to visit the region in the park is during the dry seasons. This is also known as the peak season. The dry season is perfect because the roads and trails are dry so the are easily passable, the vegetation is short which makes convenient gorilla trekking. The dry season normally runs from the months of Dec to February an June to early September. One is advised to book the permits earlier to avoid inconveniences and disappointments since the demand is very high during this season an are sold out quickly. Since gorilla trekking is not limited to time those interested in visiting the region during other days that is the wet season can do so. Though they should note that gorilla trekking is challenging during the rainy season because of the muddy trail and over grown shrubs which makes it difficult to pass through. But there are advantages that come with the wet season this runs from March to May and October to November like the less crowds in the park, less competition for the trekking permits, discounts on the permits.
Nkuringo has three fully habituated gorilla families that are available for trekkers to visit and these include; Nkuringo gorilla family has 11 members having 2 black backs, 2 adult females, 2 sub adults, 3 juveniles, 2 infants and its headed by Rwamuture a black back. This family got its name from the Nkuringo hill where they were first sighted . Nkuringo group is the first group to be habituated in 2004 in the Southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National park. Initially this group was headed by one silverback Nkuringo who died in 2008 leaving behind the two silverbacks Rafiki and Safari. Safari took over power and the same family received twins. Unfortunately in 2020 Rafiki was killed. Bushaho gorilla family has 12 family members 1 silverback Bahati the head, 1 black back, 5 adult females, 1 sub adult, 2 juveniles and 2 infants. This family is due to those who walked away from the Nkuringo family in 2012 inclusive of the silverback Bahati. Bushaho group is one of the most entertaining gorilla family in Bwindi like Bahati who likes showing off. Christmas gorilla family. This is the newly habituated gorilla family in Nkuringo sector and it derives the name from dominant silverback which was born on Christmas. Christmas gorilla family has 9 members and its only 6 of the nine gorillas that are available for trekking including 1 silverback, 3 adult females, 1 infant, 1 black back.
Gorilla habituation in Nkuringo sector. Nkuringo sector in the southern part of Bwindi is another sector where gorilla habituation process and gorilla habituation experience can be carried out from. This sector has one gorilla family that is still under habituation process which is the Posho gorilla family therefore tourists can go and get the experience of habituating gorillas. This requires one to have booked and purchased a habituation permit which costs 1500dollar to the foreign non residents, 1000dollars to the foreign residents and 750000shs to the East African residents. This is an exciting activity since it gives tourists more time to spend with the gorillas. Since the standard time to spend with the habituating gorillas is 4 hours unlike trekking where one hour Is given when a particular gorilla group has been found. Therefore tourists will come to learn more about the gorillas behaviors, manners and habits, lifestyles including how they communicate, feed and play and also record moments as well as taking photos.
There are a number of places to stay in Nkuringo sector with a too services, hospitable and well trained staff. These facilities range from upper class to mid range and economy class and these could either be Hotels, Campsites, Cottages, Banda, Lodges. So every person is being catered for and these include; Mutanda lake Resort, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, Clouds mountain Gorilla Lodge, Gorilla Heights Lodge, Wagtail Eco Safari Lodge, Hammerkop Bunkhouse, Nkuringo Campsite Bwindi backpackers among others. These accommodation facilities offer services like laundry services, well stocked bar and restaurant with delicious food, camping grounds, comfortable beddings, bathrooms, gardens for relaxation which offer a spectacular view to park.
Nkuringo sector can be accessed to by either road or air transport. Those coming from Entebbe or Kampala can use the route Ebb/Kampala via Masaka Kabale to Muko to Nkuringo this is the easiest route. From Kampala to Kabale and branch off from Muko to Nkuringo here you take a rough road to the sector. This route is 497km and it’s a 10 hours drive. The other route is from Kampala /Entebbe to Kabale, Kisoro, Mutanda then Nkuringo and it’s the longest route and it covers about 527km and with just 34km on a dirty road from Kisoro town and it will take about 11 hours drive. From Kigali u can join the route from Kisoro and that is from Kigali to Cyanika border or Katuna will drive 24km on a smooth road to Kabale then join Kabale to Kisoro road and turn off at Muko to join 38km dirty road to Nkuringo. And those from Democratic Republic of Congo via West Bunagana border to Kisoro then Nkuringo sector. And those coming from Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National park can drive through Kihihi, via Kanungu, Buhoma and join Kabale Kisoro highway at Rubanda and continue up to Muko where you branch off the highway and drive to Nkuringo sector. This route is 160km and would take about 5hours. Accessing Nkuringo region by Air transport. For one coming from either Kampala or Entebbe books a chartered flight from either Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to Kisoro Airport. And gets and drives a dirty road about 34kms to Nkuringo. Another alternative will be from Kajjansi airstrip to Kihihi airfield and drive by road. Its is a 4 hours drive to Nkuringo region.
Besides the mountain gorillas in the sector there are other attractions In the region since Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has wide range of attractions and these include other primates like chimpanzees, Vervet, baboons, Red tailed monkeys, Black and White tailed monkeys, Blue monkeys, L’Hoests monkeys among others thus carrying out primate watching and tracking, Bird species like Red-faced woodland warbler, Strange weaver, Handsome Francolin among others therefore birdwatching can be done, Various tree species like Bamboo, African Brown Mahogany to mention, butterfly species like moths, Various plant species, Ferns, hills, Valleys in the park. Other activities that can be carried out include; Hiking, Forest and nature walks this can be done with trained tour guides and this offers the tourists an opportunity of seeing and viewing the different attractions in the forest, beautiful scenic views of the park. Some of the nature walk trails include: Kashasha River Trail which is about seventeen kilometers(17km) and it takes about 6 to 7 hours. This trail starts from Nkuringo sector trail head and goes through the ruggedly beautiful landscapes of the park boundary with several view points overlooking lush mist shrouded Valleys. Then penetrates the forest to find River Kashasha and walk along the river gives relaxation. This trail is most preferred by hikers coming from Buhoma to stay in Nkuringo or from Nkuringo to connect to Queen Elizabeth National Park. While on this trail expect to see animals like duikers, bush pigs and different bird species like Great blue Turaco, White tailed crested flycatcher, Yellow streaked Greenbul banded Prinia, Starred Robin among others. Ivy River Trail. While on this trail expect to spend 5hours walking. There are 3 ways to hike the Ivy River trail. The first one leaves Nkuringo sector walking 12km to Nteko village and another 5km down the steep valley to Ivy River and back, 2nd one starts at Nteko outpost 12km from Nkuringo hike down the Valley to the River and back. And the third one is the most interesting which starts from Nteko down the Valley and crosses the forest to Buhoma sector over a newly built bridge on River Ivy through the jungle follows a paved road which is about hours walk to Buhoma region and about 4hours to Nkuringo sector, Buniga Forest trail is about 3 hours walk and this trail showcases the relationship between the Batwa people an the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Suma waterfall trail and its about four to five hours walk, Birding trails which takes up two to six hours and on this trail you I’ll encounter different bird species since the Birders use this trail. Village walks involves tourists visiting homes of the locals, community projects like art and crafts projects where women make bags, huts, baskets, mats these can be bought by the tourists the earning income and also some times invest in the projects, plantations and garden. Here they may get involved in helping out the locals with the chores, preparing food. Here they will get a chance to know the lifestyles and cultures of the locals since it’s a one on one interaction. Traditional dances, songs, poems will be performed as away of welcoming tourists. This could involve showcasing the life of the locals like the Batwa people.