How to trek mountain gorillas of Buhoma sector
How to trek mountain gorillas of Buhoma sector: Buhoma sector in the northern region of Bwindi gorilla park is one of the four sectors of Bwindi where the endangered mountain gorillas do live. The Buhoma region is a home to 5 mountain gorilla families that are fully habituated and these are Katwe, Muyambi, Mubare, Reshengura, and Habinyanja. Buhoma region is one of the sectors that receive the highest number of tourists because it’s the oldest region in the park and most of the people would love to trek the oldest gorilla family which is Mubare.
Trekking mountain gorillas in Buhoma region requires one to simply have a gorilla permit, get a means of transport to the region, and get a place where they will spend a night or more while on the safari. To trek the mountain gorillas if Buhoma, you simply need to be 15 years old because that’s when you will be allowed to secure yourself a gorilla trekking permit. You must be physically fit to complete the trekking activities that at times take you to high altitudes where mountain gorillas do move to look for food.
How to trek mountain gorillas of Buhoma sector
Gorilla trekking experience in Buhoma region
The gorilla trekking in Buhoma region is done on five gorilla families which include Mubare the oldest in the park, Muyambi, Katwe, Habinyanja, and Rushengura. All these gorilla families are trekked by a maximum of 8 people per group and these must have gorilla trekking permits issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The gorilla trekking activity starts early in the morning at the Buhoma sector offices where trekkers must gather to hear a briefing from the park wardens.
During the briefing, the park ranger guides will brief you on how to trek mountain gorillas of Buhoma sector and trekkers are taught about the rules of gorilla trekking activity, checked if permits are valid, grouped, and given armed ranger guides to lead them in the jungle. The trekking exercise in Buhoma takes 2-7 hours of going through different trails and searching for the mountain gorillas. During the search for mountain gorillas in the Buhoma region, trekkers are able to meet different park mammals, primates, and birds. When the mountain gorillas are located, the trekkers are given 1 hour to be around the apes, watch them do daily activities, take photos and learn about the gorilla habits.
Things to consider when planning to trek Buhoma gorillas
Trekking permits for Buhoma
To trek Buhoma sector gorillas, all you need is a gorilla trekking permit. The gorilla trekking permits for Buhoma can be got directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority or even a local tour operator. The gorilla trekking permit for Buhoma region is $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents, and UGX250,000 citizens of East Africa. Travelers that want to trek Buhoma gorillas in particular must book their gorilla permits earlier to avoid the disappointments of finding the gorilla permits sold out the fact that they are sold on a first come first serve basis.
How to book Buhoma gorilla permits
Booking Buhoma gorilla permits can be done using a trusted local tour operator or directly from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. You can contact any of the above via email which must contain the dates of the month and year you want to trek gorillas and then the region you are interested in trekking. This information shall be used to check for the availability of the permits for Buhoma region. If they are available, you will be lucky and if they are not, you will be asked to choose a different day.
Once the permits are available, you will be sent an email containing the different prices of the permit and then the banking details. When you sent the money, you will send a scanned copy of your receipt or if the notification is received this way, your permit shall be booked and you will find it at a UWA office in Kampala if you r booked directly with Uganda Wildlife Authority. Those that booked with a local tour operator will always get their permits on the day of arrival in the country.
Accommodation facilities for Buhoma
After securing the gorilla permits for Buhoma region, next you should look at is booking the accommodation facilities in the Buhoma region. If a traveler is booking the safari to Buhoma region themselves, they will again have to book the accommodation facilities. Those that will use a tour operator on this safari will leave that work to the tour operator. Early booking of accommodation is always advised in order to get a lodge of your choice or in your price range with the best facilities.
If a traveler is organizing a safari for themselves to Buhoma region, they will search for the different lodges in the region and get one at the price they can afford. They will then contact them via email with the dates of the month and the year they want to tour. The information shall be used to see if the rooms are available and once they are available, they will be sent an email containing the price of the lodge and the banking details. When money has been received, your room shall be booked.
Buhoma region has a lot of accommodation facilities that travelers can choose from if they are intending to visit the park. The lodges are of different prices ie they range from budget to mid-range to luxury options and where to stay just depends on your travel budget. Lodges in Buhoma region include Buhoma Lodge, Trackers Safari Lodge, Engagi Lodge, Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Bwindi Forest Lodge, Ride 4 women Guest House, Mahogany Springs Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Buhoma Rest Camp, Bwindi View Bandas, and Haven Lodge.
What to pack for Buhoma sector gorilla trekking?
To have a successful gorilla trekking in Buhoma region, travelers should pack items such as waterproof hiking shoes, cotton stocks, a pair of gaiters, gardening gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long-sleeved pants, a rain jacket, sweater, a hat, sunscreen, a pair of binoculars, a camera, dro9nking water bottle, energy-giving snacks, toiletries, insect repellents, first aid kit, sanitizer and facemask.
Getting to Buhoma sector
Buhoma is among the easily accessed regions of Bwindi gorilla park. Buhoma region can be accessed using air transport and road transport. Air transport is a bit expensive but it’s the fastest way to access Buhoma region. The region can be accessed by flying from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kihihi airstrip which is in the Buhoma region. From the airstrip, you will use road transport means to access the lodges where you will stay.
Buhoma can also accessed using road transport from kampala/Entebbe via masaka, Mbarara, ntungamo kabale and Kisoro. The journey takes 9-10 hours of different stopovers at places such as the equator, Lake Mburo national park, and Igongo cultural centre. Travelers from Kigali can access Buhoma region by crossing to Uganda via Katuna border in Kabale. The journey from Kigali to Buhoma region takes 5-6 hours of great views of the surrounding places like the rolling hills.
The most appropriate time to trek Buhoma gorillas
Buhoma region can be visited at any time of the year for mountain gorilla trekking but there are months that are better than the rest. The dry season is the most appropriate time to visit Bwindi gorilla park and this occurs from June to September and December to February. During this season, there is little or no rainfall that keeps the trekking trails dry, the vegetation is short and thin with very good views of the mountain gorillas and the roads leading to the park are in bad conditions.
Travelers can still visit Buhoma region in the rainy season of March to May and October to November because the region is always open. During these seasons, they will enjoy huge discounts on accommodation facilities because the lodges are always cheap. Travelers should note that in the rainy season, the trekking trails are slippery and muddy, the vegetation is very tall and thin with bad views of the mountain gorillas and the roads leading to the park are in poor conditions.