Kihihi airstrip in Bwindi
Kihihi airstrip is one of the airstrips located in the bwindi. The airstrip is usually used by travelers who don’t like to travel for long distances to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. Travelers that fly to Kihihi airstrip are those avoiding the road transport journey that takes 9-10 hours from Kampala to Bwindi or 4-5 hours from Kigali to Bwindi.
Kihihi airstrip is located on the northern side of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and it can only be used by travelers visiting Buhoma sector of the park. Buhoma sector is one of the four sectors of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park that harbors endangered mountain gorillas. The region has 5 mountain gorilla families which are Mubare, Muyambi, Katwe, Rushengura, and Habinyanja.
Kihihi airstrip is the closest airstrip to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and therefore travelers who would want to get access to the park in the quickest way should make use of it. Only travelers visiting Buhoma region of Bwindi should use this airstrip and those visiting Rushaga, Ruhija, and Nkuringo should use Kisoro airstrip.
Flights to Kihihi airstrip take 1 hour and 45 minutes and from the airstrip, you are picked up by armed ranger guides to your booked accommodation facility in Buhoma region which takes 1 hour. Different airline companies organize flights to Kihihi airstrip and these include Bar Aviation Uganda, Aerolink Uganda, and Fly Uganda among others.
To fly to Kihihi airstrip, you need to book your seat days before to avoid inconveniences. The airline companies don’t operate every day and they do work at specific hours. You could use your local tour operator to book these flights or do it yourself in case it’s you organizing the safari to Bwindi.
Flights to Kihihi airstrip start from Kajjansi airstrip in Kampala or Entebbe international airport to Kihihi airstrip in Buhoma taking 1 hour and 45 minutes. These flights are conducted three times a day, morning flights depart at 0700 and arrive at 0845, midmorning flights depart at 1015 and arrive at 1125, and last flights depart at 1200 and arrive at 1415.
Travelers visiting Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and want to use air transport should expect delay in flights because of the bad weather. The rainy season occurs from March to May and October to November and is characterized by little or no rainfall that delays these flights. One of the advantages that come with flying to Bwindi in the rainy seasons is tickets are somehow cheaper.
When to fly to Kihihi airstrip
Travelers to Buhoma region of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park can to Kihihi airstrip at any time of the year however there are months that are better than the rest. To enjoy safaris in Bwindi, you need to visit the park in the dry season of June to September and December to February. During the dry months, there is little or no rainfall that favors the flights, trekking trails are dry, vegetation is short with good views of the mountain gorillas and the roads leading to the park from the airstrip are in good conditions.
Budget travelers can fly to Kihihi airstrip to visit Bwindi impenetrable forest national park in the rainy season of March to May and October to November to enjoy huge discounts on the flights and accommodation in the park. The rainy season is however characterized by little or no rainfall that makes the trekking trails muddy and slippery, the vegetation is tall and thick with unclear views of the mountain gorillas and the roads connecting to the park from the airstrip are in poor condition.
Most done activities by travelers flying to Kihihi airstrip
Encountering mountain gorillas
Gorilla trekking is the most done activity by travelers flying to Kihihi airstrip in Bwindi. Gorilla trekking is only done in Buhoma region where this airstrip is found. The region is home to 5 mountain gorilla families that are all fully habituated and open for gorilla trekking. Gorilla trekking activities can only be possible if one has a gorilla permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Trekking Buhoma gorillas start early in the morning with a briefing from the sector headquarters where park wardens teach all trekkers about the rules and regulations of the trekking activity. Each gorilla family is trekked by a maximum of 8 people and these are led by armed ranger guides in the jungle.
The search for an allocated mountain gorilla family can take 2-7 hours and these depend on the location of the gorilla family as well as the speed of trekkers. During the search, trekkers are able to see different park animals, and the moment the mountain gorilla family is spotted, armed ranger guides give 1 hour to be around these apes and this enable trekkers to learn about their habits, watch them do daily activities, and then take photos.
Birding: Bwindi is one of the best birding destinations in the country and travelers can access the park for bird activities by flying to Kihihi airstrip. Buhoma is one of the best regions where birding activities are enjoyed using the different birding trails such as Ivy river trail, Muzubijiro loop trail, waterfall hiking trail, Munyanga river trail, and much more.
Birding in Buhoma will give you an opportunity to encounter birds such as common sandpiper, olive pigeon, dusky turtle dove, handsome francolin, scaly francolin, black kite, African jacana, red-eyed dove, tambourine dove, red knobbed coot, yellow bill, grey crowned crane, African pitta, rock martin, mosque swallow, little greenbul, cape wagtail, wood warbler, green hylia, and blue-headed sunbird among others.
Batwa cultural experience: Batwa cultural experience is in most cases combined with gorilla trekking or birding in Bwindi. The cultural experience is done by those travelers that love to experience the African culture. The Batwa cultural tour starts with a nature walk around near the forest boundaries where tourists are told stories of how these people use to survive in the jungle on fruits, honey, and meat.
A visit to the Batwa which is always led by the Batwa guides takes you to a number of communities where you meet local people doing their day to day activities. The Batwa people especially the elderly will tell you stories of long ago and their life in the jungle. You will visit traditional healers who still use plants as local medicine, and in the end, you will be entertained by traditional dancers.