Nkuringo sector is one of the gorilla trekking regions in Bwindi gorilla park that is located in the southwestern part of Uganda. Nkuringo was the second sector to be established in Bwindi gorilla park in 2004 after. Nkuringo sector is one of the famous and most visited regions in Bwindi gorilla park for it hosts a semi habituated gorilla family for habituation and others for trekking purposes.
Bwindi gorilla park is home to more than half of the mountain gorilla population left in the world. The park has 4 sectors where different mountain gorilla families are found and Nkuringo sector is one of them. Nkuringo sector is found in the southern part of the park hosting 3 mountain gorilla families which are Nkuringo gorilla family, Bushaho gorilla family, and Christmas gorilla family.
Gorilla families in Nkuringo sector
Nkuringo sector has 2 gorilla families fully habituated for trekking and 1 semi habituated gorilla family open for habituation purposes. The gorilla families in Nkuringo sector of Bwindi include Nkuringo gorilla family, Bushaho gorilla family, and Christmas gorilla family.
Nkuringo gorilla family: Nkuringo gorilla family was open for trekking activities in 2014 and this was the first gorilla family to be habituated in Nkuringo sector. Nkuringo gorilla family started with 20 members led by a silverback called Nkuringo. Nkuringo silverback died in 2008 at the age of 45 years and safari took over the leadership of the group till he disappeared from the group after fighting with another gorilla group.
When Safari disappeared, another silverback called Rafiki took over the leadership of the group till June 2020 when armed ranger guides found Rafiki’s body with deep wounds believed to be from spears from illegal hunters. Nkuringo gorilla family is now led by a blackback called Rwamutwe that leads 12 group members.
Bushaho gorilla family: Bushaho gorilla family is another family available for trekking in Nkuringo sector. Bushaho gorilla group is available for habituation purposes and only 4 people can trek this group. The gorilla group which consists of 12 members is led by a dominant silverback Bahati.
Christmas gorilla family: Christmas gorilla family is another gorilla group in Nkuringo region of Bwindi gorilla park. The gorilla group is led by a dominant silverback called Christmas who was born on Christmas day. Christmas gorilla group was not habituated for so long because most of its members were from an already habituated group called Nkuringo. As of today, Nkuringo gorilla family has 6 members that include 1 silverback, 2 adult females, 1 sub-adult female, and 2 juveniles.
Gorilla trekking experience in Nkuringo
2 gorilla families in Nkuringo sector of Bwindi gorilla park are open for trekking and these are Christmas gorilla family and Nkuringo gorilla family. Trekking ant of these gorilla families starts with a briefing at the sector offices where wardens teach the trekkers about the rules and regulations of the gorilla trekking activity. Trekking each of the gorilla families is done by a group of 8 people.
Armed ranger guides lead the treks in Nkuringo region by taking you through different trekking trails while looking for mountain gorillas and protecting trekkers from dangerous wild animals. To find mountain gorillas in Nkuringo sector, it can take you 2-7 hours of going through rugged terrain and thick vegetation cover. When the mountain gorilla family is located, then the trekkers are given 1 hour to be around these apes, watch them do daily activities like hunting, feeding, take photos, and learn about their habits.
Gorilla habituation experience in Nkuringo sector
Just like trekking mountain gorillas, gorilla habituation experience does start with a briefing at the sector offices, and it’s done by 4 trekkers. There is one gorilla family in Nkuringo region and this is Bushaho gorilla family. Armed ranger guides lead the habituation activity in Nkuringo and this takes 2-7 hours depending on the location of mountain gorillas and the speed of trekkers. When the semi habituated gorilla family is located, the trekkers are given 4 hours to be around these apes, watch them do daily activities, take photos and be part of the activities done to make them do daily activities.
How much are gorilla permits in Nkuringo sector?
Gorilla trekking permits for Nkuringo sector are sold at the Uganda Wildlife Authority at a fee of $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents, and UGX250,000 for East African citizens. Gorilla habituation permits do cost $1500 for foreign non-residents, $1000 for foreign residents, and UGX750,000 East African citizens. Travelers are advised to book their gorilla trekking or habituation permits in advance of 3-4 months to avoid last-minute booking disappointments.
Booking gorilla permits for Nkuringo sector
Travelers intending to trek mountain gorillas of Nkuringo sector can book the trekking permits or habituation permits from Uganda Wildlife Authority. Travelers will have to send an email to the Uganda Wildlife Authority containing Nkuringo region as the area they want to trek, dates of the month, and year they want to travel. Once they have received the email, they will check for the availability of the permits and when they are available, they will send you banking details and after sending them money, they will go ahead and book the permits for you.
Travelers can still use a local tour operator to book them gorilla permits for Nkuringo region at the same fee. You will send your local tour operator an email containing Nkuringo as the sector you want to travel, dates of the month, and year. They will use this information to check for the availability of the gorilla permits with the Uganda Wildlife Authority. When the permits are available, they will send you an email containing banking details and once you are done with sending money, they will book the gorilla permit for you.
Accessing Nkuringo sector
Nkuringo sector can be accessed using road transport from Kampala or Kigali city Rwanda. Travelers from Kampala can access Nkuringo sector of Bwindi in 9-10 hours using Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara-Kabale road. They will brunch off at Muto to Nkuringo region on a dirt road that is 30 km to the sector of the park. Travelers from Kigali can access Nkuringo region by using Katuna border in Kabale and the journey takes 4-5 hours only. From Kabale, travelers will turn off at Muto and join a dirt road to Nkuringo region.
Luxury travelers or those that hate long distances can access Nkuringo sector of Bwindi gorilla park using air transport from Kajjansi airstrip or Entebbe international airport. The flights that are conducted by Aerolink Uganda take 2 hours to land at Kisoro airstrip where drivers transport you to the park or lodge and the journey takes a few hours.
Accommodation in Nkuringo sector
There are several accommodation facilities in Nkuringo region located in the southern part of Bwindi gorilla park. The accommodation options in Nkuringo region range from budget to mid-range to luxury options and these are Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, Gorilla Heights Lodge, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Bwindi Backpackers Lodge, Mutanda Eco Community Centre, Nshongi Camp, Crested Crane Bwindi Hotel, Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge, and Virunga Campsite