Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National park is located in the North Western part of Bwindi Impenetrable National park in Kanungu District and Buhoma faces the amazing dark ever green and hilly impenetrable forest of Bwindi. Because of Buhoma’s history out of the four sectors of Bwindi Impenetrable National park, Buhoma is one of the major, popular and core sectors that can’t be left out when it comes to Gorilla trekking. Buhoma was the first sector in Bwindi Impenetrable National park to be opened up for gorilla trekking and still its this region that has the oldest habituated gorilla family known as Mubare gorilla family which was visited first by the tourists. The Gorilla tourism therefore, started from Buhoma region in Bwindi Impenetrable National park and in Uganda as a whole just after Bwindi was established as a park. Mubare gorilla family had about 18 family members and the oldest and leader was Ruhondeza. The started to separate due to Ruhondeza’s aging and by the time he died the family as only left with 4 members but these however increased after the introduction of a new silverback Kanyonyi who captured some of the other gorillas from other families and led to an increment up to 9 members. This Mubare family gets it name after the Mubare hills deep in the Bwindi forest. Buhoma sector of Bwindi has other four gorilla families besides the Mubare gorilla group since there are five habituated gorilla families In Buhoma sector including the Habinyanja gorilla family was habituated in 1997 purposely for gorilla trekking and was discovered around the swamp area in Bwindi Impenetrable National park. Habinyanja had 25 members in 1999 when it was first visited but due to the struggle for power between the two silverbacks the group split into two. The leader was Mugurusi and after his death power struggles arose between Rwansigazi and Mwirima and Mwirima later decided to separate and form his own group Rushegura Rwansigazi remaining with Habinyanja as the leader. Habinyanja has 17 members. Rushegura habituated gorilla family was first habituated in 2000for purposes of gorilla trekking and in 2002 it received its first visitors. This group as a result of the power struggles which let to the split up of the Habinyanja family and Mwirima decided to walk away thus creating the Rushegura. Rushegura derives its name from the tree specie that was abandant in a home where they were first sighted “Ebishengura” It has 17 members led by the silverback Kabukojo, 4 adult females, 4 juveniles, 4 black backs, 4 infants. Tracking the Rushegura can take a shorter time since they tend to live near the park headquarters however sometimes d mountain gorillas may tend to move as far as outside the park boundary visitors therefore can camp around the area where they can get a sight of them. Muyambi gorilla family is the newest gorilla family in Buhoma sector of Bwindi opened early 2019. It was created as a result of an adult family member of Mubare group separating from the family and created Muyambi. This family gets its name from the founder and leader Muyambi. It is a group of 7 members headed by a silverback. Katwe habituated gorilla family this family was launched and open to for visitors to trek in 2018 after having gone through the habituation process of 3 years and it has 7 members of family. Buhoma sector has had new habituated gorilla families this leading in the increased demand for the gorilla permits. Gorilla trekking In Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National park. A gorilla permit in Buhoma sector cost 600dollars for the foreign residents, 250000shs to the East African countries citizens and 700dollars for the foreign non residents and these permits can be booked and acquired from the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices. Gorilla trekking in Buhoma sector starts very early in the morning after a briefing at the headquarters about the rules and regulations, what to expect. After the briefing tourists will be grouped in to 8 groups therefore each family is visited by 8people per day. At around 8am the trek begins along side with the tour guides, armed rangers and porters. While in the forest once a mountain gorilla family is found the time to spend with the gorillas is one hour this is so because the gorilla may feel uncomfortable with the visitors over stay and may get agitated and gorilla trekking takes about 2-6 hours hiking in the jungle. Best time to visit Buhoma sector for gorilla trekking is during the dry season which is always the peak season because there is no or less rainfall which makes the trails accessible and passable. The dry months include June- September and December- February. During the peak season the permits are quickly sold so its advisable for one to book earlier. Since it’s a rain forest there is no guarantee that it won’t rain any time. Those who wish to visit Buhoma sector can even in the wet season which has months of March- May and October- November since gorilla trekking can b done all year through. But one should note that during the rainy season gorilla trekking becomes a bit more challenging due to the muddy trails and over grown vegetation though an advantage on this season is that it can call for a discount on the permits. There are only 24 gorilla trekking permits that are available per day. Facts about Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National park. Buhoma sector is a home to 5 habituated gorilla families and gorilla trekking was first introduced in Buhoma sector in 1993. Buhoma is the only sector with the oldest and first habituated gorilla family. 2) Buhoma sector is easily accessed from different area for example it can be accessed by visitors from Queen Elizabeth National Park where one drives from Mweya peninsular via Ishasha sector then to Buhoma sector and this takes about 3-4 hours drive. Buhoma can be accessed from Kampala by road one can take a Kampala to Masaka to Mbarara to Ntungamo to Rukungiri to Kihihi route to reach Buhoma sector a distance approximately of 550km for about 8-9 hours or by air transport one can book a flight in Kajjansi Airstrip to either Kihihi airstrip or Kayonza Airstrip and reach Buhoma. Travelers can still access Buhoma sector from Kabale via Kanungu which is about 2hours drive. Buhoma sector also connects with the other sectors of Bwindi Impenetrable National park. 3) Buhoma sector has favorable terrain therefore trekking a mountain gorilla in Buhoma is not as difficult as compared to other sectors like Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors where you have to hike the steeps and slopes. Visitors on gorilla trekking will not take a lot of time looking for mountain gorillas in their natural habitants.
Buhoma region has quite a good number of the accommodation facilities. There is a wider range of places to lodge in while visiting Buhoma for gorilla trekking. One should not worry about where to spend the nights o stay while on a tour to Buhoma. The accommodation facilities offer quite a range of favorable services to the clients since they have professional, trained and experienced staff. The cost of the accommodation facilities in Buhoma region vary according to the services provided however, they all have or provide good services and Buhoma accommodation facilities are either luxury, midrange and budgeted and affordable lodges depends on the visitors choice and money. And some of the places to consider include; Buhoma lodge, Gorilla Forest Camp, Mahogany Springs Camp, Bwindi Volcano Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Engagi Lodge, Sanctuary Gorilla Camp, Lake Kitandira Gorilla Forest Camp, Haven Lodge among others.
Other activities carried out in Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National park. Besides Gorilla trekking, there are other interesting activities that can be participated in by the tourists after gorilla trekking and these include Hiking, mountain riding which is organised by the Buhoma Rest Camp. This mountain riding is a project for the women. Forest nature walks with in the forest tourists are get a chance to view various bird species like the Grauers warbler, Handsome francolin, Green broadbill, Cape wagtail, Yellow frowned canary among others, colorful and wonderful butterflies in the forest, other primates that live in the forest for example the chimpanzees, blue monkeys, Red tailed monkeys, white and black Colobus, L’Hoests monkeys, thus exercising primate watching among others. Nature walks in the forest are interesting and adventurous activities where visitors get an opportunity of exploring the park on foot as they witness and enjoy the beautiful scenery, cool environment and also see some of the animals that live in the forest region like the forest elephants among others thus carrying out forest viewing, community and cultural tours here tourists get a face to face opportunity hence interacting with the locals like the Batwa people and the Bakiga this helps them to discover and get to know the culture, lifestyles and norms of the local. Tourists get a chance to see them perform their tradition dances, songs, tradition hunting skills which reflect their past life in the forest, poetry, story telling, meet the blacksmith and tradition healers. Art and crafts like baskets, jewelries, bags, Sandals, among others made by the locals. Village walks, these take you through the traditional homesteads of the locals thus exploring, discovering and learning more about the locals. This involves knowing about the culture, traditions and lifestyles of the local people which is through the interaction made between the locals and the tourists. Tourists are being welcomed by the locals and this can be in form of traditional dances and songs. During these village walks tourist learn about many things in a day to day life since they participate in hand craft making, feeding the animals, cooking food, visiting plantations.
Trekking trails in Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National park. Buhoma region has a number of trekking trails that give an amazing experience to the tourist because each trail leads to you to see and spot the attractions within the park. These trails range from the Munyaga river trail, Rushura hill trail, Waterfall trail, River Ivy trail and Muzabajiro loop trail. The River Munyaga trail is considered to be the easiest and simplest trail to use in the region and it takes you via the valley lengthways Bizenga creek linking to Munyaga River. While hiking on this trail you I’ll be able to see as many primates like the Blue and white colobus monkeys, Blue monkeys among others and bird species like blue flycatchers, bar tailed trogon, dusky crimson among others. The Rushura hill trail which starts from Buhoma park office taking you to the Rushura hill. While on hiking on this trail, you find forests and terraced fields as you get on the top of the park and you will be able to get a spectacular view of the Virunga mountains and the Western Rift Valley. It takes 3-4 hours to complete the Rushura hill trail. The Waterfall trail which is known to being the most popular amongst the trails in Buhoma and Bwindi as a whole. This is so because this trail leads you to the waterfalls in the park, you encounter the fresh vegetation, colorful butterfly species, spot as many bird species as possible. This trail takes 3hours to be completed. The River Ivy trail which is known to be the longest trekking trail in Buhoma sector of the Bwindi Impenetrable National park having 14km and it goes through the Southern parts of Buhoma leading you to Mukempunu a place known for the Wild pigs. The Ivy river trail takes 8hours to be completed and while hiking on this trail you will have chances of spotting bird species like great blue turaco, African black ducks etc, primate species like Vervet monkeys, Olive baboons and so much more, butterflies. This trail later follows an old road through the forest. Therefore Buhoma sector has perfect trailheads that will lead you to viewing and observing the different attractions in the park.
Buhoma sector has other tourist attractions besides the mountain gorillas that are available for tourists and these include the bird species like pink footed puff back, Water starling, White throated green bull among others spotted along the Buhoma waterfall trail and the bamboo zone. Since the park is rich in the fauna, flora, fresh vegetation you will be mesmerized by the beautiful sceneries of the region, the tree species like Ceiba tress to mention, primates like chimpanzees, Vervet monkeys among others, butterfly species like cream banded swallowtail. Therefore a visit to Buhoma sector will give all the desired satisfaction.