Ruhija sector is one of the four regions of Bwindi gorilla park located on the eastern side of the park. Bwindi gorilla park is home to the highest population of mountain gorillas that are left in the world. The park is allocated in the southwestern part of the country and has four sectors – Ruhija, Buhoma, Nkuringo, and Rushaga where gorilla trekking is done.
Ruhija sector is located on the eastern side of the park and can easily be accessed from Kabale or Buhoma sector, The sector can be visited at any time of the year and gorilla trekking is the most done activity. Mountain gorilla trekking in Ruhija sector can be done by all people that are above 15 years old and it’s done by only those that have valid gorilla trekking permits. The gorilla trekking permits for Ruhija region cost $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents, and shs250,000 East African citizens.
Gorilla families in Ruhija sector
Ruhija sector pf Bwindi gorilla park several habituated gorilla families and these include Oruzogo gorilla family, Bitukura gorilla family, and Kyaguriro gorilla family
Bitukura gorilla family: Bitukura gorilla family is the second oldest gorilla group in Ruhija sector of Bwindi gorilla park, The gorilla family started the process of habituation in 2007 and it took only 15 months to get open for trekking purposes. Most of the gorilla families take 2-3 hours to get fully habituated but Bitukura gorilla group took 15 months to pass the mocking stage. Bitukura gorilla family is led by the second youngest silverback in the group called Ndahura.
Orugozo gorilla family: Orugozo gorilla family is one of the gorilla families that are found in Ruhija sector of Bwindi gorilla park. Oruzogo gorilla family started with 25 members but due to a number of reasons it now has 17 members that are led by a dominant silverback Tibirikwata. Orugozo gorilla family became more famous in 2013 when one of its females called Kankonda had a set of twins.
Kyaguriro gorilla family: Kyaguriro gorilla family happens to be the oldest gorilla family in sector of Bwindi gorilla park having been habituated in 1999. The gorilla family was first led by a silverback Rukina who died in 2015 due to lighting. After the death of Rukina, Mukiza an immature silverback took over the leadership of the group. During the leadership of Mukiza, an immigrant silverback Rukara fought with the group members and this made the group slip into two groups Kyaguriro A and Muzika family.
Gorilla trekking in Ruhija
In Ruhija sector of Bwindi gorilla park, gorilla trekking is done among 3 gorilla families and these are Birukura, Oruzogo and Kyaguriro families. Gorilla trekking in this region starts with a briefing at the sector offices where wardens teach the trekkers about the rules and regulations of the trekking activity before armed ranger guides lead them into the jungle.
A group of 8 people trek a single gorilla family in Ruhija sector of Bwindi gorilla park. All the treks are led by armed ranger guides that take trekkers through different trails of the park looking for gorillas with opportunities of meeting park mammals, primates, and birds. Finding mountain gorillas in Ruhija sector takes 2-7 hours and the time taken depends on the location of the mountain gorillas, and the speed of trekkers. Once the mountain gorillas are located, the trekkers are given 1 hour to be around these apes, watch them do daily activities, take photos and learn about their habits.
Other activities in Ruhija sector
Birding in Ruhija: Ruhija sector is one of the best birding areas in Bwindi gorilla park with 350 bird species of which 23 are endemic to the area. Birding watching is done in the morning hours with a help of armed ranger guides that take you around different sector trails while protecting you from dangerous wild animals. Most of the birding activities in Bwindi gorilla park are done from Mubwindi swamp and bamboo zone.
Birds to watch out for in Bwindi gorilla park include dusky crimsonwing, red-fronted antpecker, tit hylia, collared apalis, strange weaver, montane oriole, short-tailed warbler, kivu ground thrush, white-bellied robin chat, black-faced rufous warbler, Rwenzori batis, regal sunbird, handsome francolin, black bee-eater, African wood owl, bar-tailed trogon, yellow-streaked greenbul, fine-banded woodpecker, and red-throated alethe among others.
Nature walks in Ruhija: Nature walks activities are designed for those that want to explore the sector on foot. The nature walk activities in Ruhija sector are guided by armed ranger guides and are mostly done on Ruhija ridge top. During the nature walks in Ruhija sector, the tourists are able to see some of the park animals such as chimpanzees, mountain gorillas, buffaloes, elephants, duikers, giant forest hogs, birds, and vegetation. The tourists are also able to have a view of Lake Bunyonyi.
Batwa cultural encounter in Ruhija: Batwa cultural trail is one of the activities that can be done while on a safari in Ruhija sector of Bwindi gorilla park. Batwa cultural tours are led by the Batwa people who take you around the park and their communities. The Batwa people show you how they used to live in the jungle, use arrows and bows to kill animals, gather fruits, and collect honey. A visit to their community will give you an opportunity to see how they live their day-to-day life, prepare foods and drinks, you will be able to visit their art and craft shops and in the end, you will be entertained by the traditional dancers.
Accommodation in Ruhija sector
When intending to visit Ruhija sector of Bwindi gorilla park, after confirming your safari next is looking for where to stay. Travelers shouldn’t be worried about where they will stay because the sector has several accommodation facilities ranging from budget to mid-range to luxury options. Some of the accommodation facilities in Ruhija sector of Bwindi gorilla park include Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge, Ruhija Community Rest Camp, Bakiga Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Gorilla Mist Camp, Agandi Lodge, Broadbill Forest Camp, Gift of Nature Lodge, Ruhija Gorilla Friends Resort, Cuckoo Land Tented Lodge, Ecomarvels Gorilla Lodge, and Trekkers Tavern.
When to visit Ruhija sector
Ruhija sector is open for tourism activities at all times of the year but there are months that are better than the rest and these are the dry months. The dry months occur from June to September and December to February are characterized by little or no rainfall and are considered the best months. During the dry months, the trekking trails are dry, the vegetation in the park is thin with clear views of animals and good photography while the roads leading to the sector are passable.
Tourists most especially the budget travelers can visit Ruhija sector of Bwindi gorilla park in the rainy season of March to May and October to November to enjoy huge discounts on accommodation facilities. Travelers should however note that in times of the rainy season, there is plenty of rainfall in the park that makes the trekking trails muddy and slippery, the vegetation is tall with unclear views of the park animals and bad photography while the roads leading to the park are impassable.
Accessing Ruhija sector
Ruhija sector located in the eastern part of Bwindi gorilla park can be accessed using road transport or air transport. Travelers using air transport can fly from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kihihi airstrip in Buhoma sector where they will meet rivers to transfer them to Ruhija sectors in a few hours.
Travelers that are comfortable with long journeys can use road transport to Ruhija sector of Bwindi gorilla park. Traveler from Kampala/Entebbe will use Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara-Kabale road and brunch off from a dirt road to Ruhija taking 9-10 hours. Travelers from Rwanda can use Katuna border in Kabale and access Ruhija sector using Butogota road.