Bwindi National Park Gorilla Trekking Sectors and Gates
Bwindi National Park has four gorilla trekking gates or sectors. These are Rushaga, Nkuringo, Ruhija, and Buhoma gates. The Nyakagezi gorilla group is found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Rushaga sector is located in the southern section of Bwindi National Park in the district of Kisoro. Rushaga sector is a popular gorilla trekking destination at Bwindi National Park because of the several reasons:
- Rushaga sector has many gorilla families open for gorilla trekking. The number of gorilla families open for trekking are more than 10.
- Rushaga sector is easily accessible from Kigali, Rwanda via the Cyanika border post. The drive time from Kigali to Rushaga is 4-5hrs. Rushaga is also accessible through the nearby Kisoro airport. AeroLink provides daily flights from Entebbe airport to Kisoro airport.
- Rushaga is close to Nkuringo sector, so one can stay the night at the Rushaga area and trek gorillas at Nkuringo sector, also in the southern part of Bwindi National Park
- There are various accommodation options at Rushaga sector including Gorilla Safari Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, and Gorilla Valley Lodge.
The Nkuringo sector is located in the southern section of Bwindi National Park in the district of Kisoro. Nkuringo sector is easily accessible from Kigali, Rwanda via the Cyanika border post. The drive time from Kigali to Nkuringo is 5hrs. Nkuringo is also accessible through the nearby Kisoro airport. AeroLink provides daily flights from Entebbe airport to Kisoro airport. Nkuringo is close to Rushaga sector, so one can stay the night at the Nkuringo area and trek gorillas at Rushaga sector, and vice versa. There are various accommodation options at Nkuringo sector including the upmarket Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, Mutanda Lake Resort, Chameleon Hill Lodge and many others.
Ruhija sector is located in the eastern section of Bwindi National Park in the newest district of Rubanda (originally Kabale). Ruhija sector is easily accessible from Kigali, Rwanda via the Cyanika or Katuna border post. The drive time from Kigali to Ruhija is between 4 and 5 hours. Ruhija is also accessible through the nearby Kihihi Airport. AeroLink provides daily flights from Entebbe airport to Kihihi airport. Ruhija is close to Lake Bunyonyi, which makes it easier to stay at Lake Bunyonyi and trek gorillas at Ruhija sector. There are various accommodations options at Ruhija sector including Ruhija Gorilla Lodge, Bakiga Lodge, Gorilla Mist Camp, and many others
Gorilla trekking at Buhoma sector of Bwindi National Park. Buhoma sector, which also happens to be the national park headquarters for Bwindi National Park, is located in the northern section of Bwindi National Park in the district of Kanungu. Buhoma is approximately 8-9-hour drive from Kampala and 5-6 hours from Kigali. Buhoma is also accessible through the nearby Kihihi airport. AeroLink provides daily flights from Entebbe airport to Kihihi Airport. Buhoma being the oldest gorilla trekking location at Bwindi National Park is notable for upscale lodges including Sanctuary Gorilla Retreats, Bwindi Lodge (operated by Volcanoes Safaris), Buhoma Lodge, and many others. Buhoma is 2hrs drive to the southern section of Queen Elizabeth National Park called Ishasha sector. The Ishasha sector is a famous destination for spotting tree climbing lions.
Differences And Similarities Between Gorilla Trekking At Bwindi Forest & Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mountain gorillas are found in two national parks in Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Both parks are home to more than half of the remaining world’s mountain gorillas. The rest of the gorilla population is found in Virunga National Park in DR Congo’s Virunga National Park and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
Bwindi, a UNESCO World Heritage site is very diverse with hundreds of species of animals, plants and mammals. The park is a habitat to colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, geckos and various species of birds. Mgahinga on the hand is the only national park in Uganda where golden monkeys and mountain gorillas live in harmony with nature. This harmonious relationship between mountain gorillas and golden monkeys in Mgahinga is popularly referred to as “Mgahinga is where gold meets silver”.
Here are other notable differences and similarities between gorilla trekking at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi National Park.
- Size: Mgahinga is a small park (33 sq. kms) compared to Bwindi national park, which is 331 kms sq. Both parks were created at the same time in the early 1990s. The parks are separated by community farmlands stretching about 50kms.
- Location: Mgahinga lies in the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Whereas Bwindi boarders with the DRC and three other districts of Uganda (Kisoro, Rubanda and Kanungu)
- Number of habituated gorilla groups. Mgahinga has one habituated gorilla group (called Nyakagezi) compared to Bwindi NP which has up to 15 groups. Bwindi also has four trekking gates at Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga. Bamboo Ecotours clients tend to trek either Rushaga or Nkuringo since it’s much easier to secure gorilla trekking permits plus Rushaga and Nkuringo are closer to the Rwandan border for visitors travelling to Uganda via Kigali or via Kisoro airport.
- Gorilla trekking experience: Mgahinga group is relatively easy to compare to Bwindi as you are likely to hike a few hills and valleys to get to the gorillas. We have heard from some of Bamboo Ecotours’ clients that they enjoyed trekking at Mgahinga because the forest is not too dense making it easy to spot the gorillas and take good photos. The gorillas in both parks are the same though.
- Safety and security: Both parks are very secure for trekking.
Distance from Kisoro town: Mgahinga park is 14kms from Kisoro town (about an hour drive due to unpaved road) compared to Bwindi (southern sector at Rushaga or Nkuringo), which is about 35kms away. It takes about two hours to drive from Kisoro town to Bwindi Rushaga gate.