What to do in Rushaga after gorilla habituation
What to do in Rushaga after gorilla habituation? Spending 4 hours with mountain gorillas is a unique activity that is only done in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. The habituation experience is carried out in Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors of the park and involves trekkers searching for mountain gorillas with the rangers, conservationists, and researchers and spending 4 hours with the apes. There is only one gorilla family in Rushaga region that has been kept for habituation purposes to allow people to encounter mountain gorillas for 1 hour.
Bikingi is the only gorilla family in Rushaga sector of Bwindi gorilla park that is going through the habituation process. The gorilla group can be trekked by a maximum of 4 people. To habituate the gorilla group, you must have a gorilla trekking permit that is issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority. Each gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 for foreign non-residents, $1000 foreign residents, and UCX750,000 East African citizens.
Spend 4 hours with mountain gorillas in Rushaga sector Bwindi
Rushaga is one of the places where mountain gorilla habituation takes place. One gorilla family called Bikingi was put there for habituation purposes to allow tourists to be around mountain gorillas for 4 hours. The gorilla habituation activities by done but only those that have valid gorilla habituation permits obtained from the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Mountain gorilla habituation permits are $1500 for foreign non-residents, $1000 for foreign residents, and UGX250,000 for East African citizens. To get the gorilla habituation permits for the semi habituated gorilla families in Bwindi, you must be 15 years and above. The habituation permits are got from Uganda Wildlife Authority or a trusted local tour operator at the same fee.
The gorilla habituation activity in Rushaga starts early in the morning when trekkers gather for a briefing from the park wardens. During the briefing, the trekkers are taught about the rules and regulations of the gorilla habituation activity. Armed ranger guides lead the trekkers in the jungle together with the conservationists and researchers.
To locate the semi habituated mountain gorilla family can take you 2-7 hours depending on the location of the gorilla group and the speed of the trekkers. When the gorilla family is located, the trekkers are given to be with the family members for 4 hours, watch them do daily activities, take photos, learn about their habits, be part of the activities done to make them get used to human presence, and be part of the gorilla naming in case there is a newborn gorilla.
Activities to do in Rushaga after gorilla habituation
Gorilla trekking: Travelers can now trek mountain gorillas twice in Bwindi gorilla park as long as they have gorilla permits. After gorilla habituation, trekkers can trek mountain gorillas in the same region to see what it’s like to be around mountain gorillas that are already used to human presence around them. Nshogi, Bweza, Kahungye, Mishaya and Busingye gorilla family are the mountain gorilla families in rushaga region that can be trekked for 1 hour.
Having spent 4 hours with Bikingi mountain gorilla family trying to make it get used to human presence, travelers can now spend more than 1 hour with another gorilla group and this will give them an opportunity to learn more about the behaviors of mountain gorillas. Trekking starts with a briefing, armed ranger guides led the trek and when mountain gorillas are found trekkers are given 1 hour to be around the group watch them do daily activities, take photos, and much more.
Bird watching: Birding is one of the amazing activities to do in Rushaga sector of Bwindi gorilla park after habituation. Rushaga region has 350 bird species that have been so far recorded in the park of which 23 are endemic to the Albertine region and 10 are only found in Bwindi. Birds you are likely to encounter in Bwindi gorilla park include giant kingfisher, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, African green pigeon, African harrier hawk, African broadbill, black-faced warbler, black-billed turaco, Rwenzori apalis, yellow-streaked greenbul, handsome francolin, blue-headed sunbird, mountain masked apalis, and olive-breasted greenbul among others.
Community tours: After mountain gorilla habituation, travelers can visit any of the nearby communities to meet and interact with local people. Most of the community tours in Rushaga region are done in the Batwa communities. The visits are led by the local guides who take you around the park boundaries showing you how they used to survive in the jungle gathering fruits, collecting honey, and use bows and arrows to kill animals for meat.
The Batwa people used to live in the forest until the government evicted them to protect the animals and most especially mountain gorillas as well as the forest. when you visit the elders in the community, they will tell you stories of long ago, you will see people do their day-to-day activities, visit gift shops, and get entertained by the traditional dancers.
Nature walks: Travelers can do nature walks around the Rushaga region in their free time after gorilla habituation. The nature walks will give you an opportunity to explore Rushaga sector on foot and they are led by armed ranger guides that protect participants from dangerous wild animals. The nature walks give trekkers an opportunity to see different plant species, birds, and animals such as buffaloes, duikers, golden cats, giant forest hogs, elephants, olive baboons, and monkeys among others.
When to visit Rushaga sector of Bwindi gorilla park?
Rushaga sector can be visited all year round but there are months that are better than the rest. The dry months are the best for mountain gorilla trekking and they do occur from June to September and December to February. During the dry season, there is little or no rainfall that leaves the trekking trails dry hence not affecting the speed of trekkers, vegetation is thin and scattered with good views of the mountain gorillas and the roads leading to the park are passable.
Tourists can still visit Rushaga sector in the rainy season to enjoy the discounts on accommodation facilities. The rainy season also known as the low season occurs from March to May and October to November and is characterized by little or no rainfall that makes the trekking trails muddy and slippery, the vegetation is thick with poor views of the mountain gorillas and the roads leading to the park are in poor conditions.
Accessing Rushaga sector
Rushaga sector can be accessed using air transport or road transport in juts a single day. Air transport is the fastest way to reach Bwindi gorilla park for it takes 2 hours. Different airline companies organize flights to Bwindi gorilla park and those that are going to Rushaga sector will board flights from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airstrip and connect to Kisoro airstrip where they will meet drivers on the ground to transfer them to Rushaga region.
Rushaga sector can also be accessed using road transport from Kampala via Masaka, Mbarara, Ntungamo, Kabale and Kisoro road. The journey takes 9-10 hours of enjoying beautiful views along the roadsides. Travelers can also connect to Rushaga sector in Bwindi gorilla park from Kigali by crossing to Uganda using Katuna border in Kabale or Cyanika border in Kisoro.
Where to stay in Rushaga sector of Bwindi gorilla park
Travelers on a safari to Bwindi gorilla park can stay in any of the accommodations as long as they are within that region. The sector has a number of accommodation facilities that range from budget to mid-range to luxury options and they do include Rushaga Gorilla Lodge, Four Gorillas Lodge, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Bwindi Jungle Lodge, Gorilla Valley Lodge, Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge, Nsongi Camp, Rushaga Gorilla Haven Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Resort, and Wagtail Eco Safari Lodge.