Ruhija Sector is one of the 4 gorilla trekking sectors in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and is located in the Eastern part of the park. This sector is positioned between Buhoma in the north of the park and Kibale town in the south thereby making it easily accessed. The sector connects to reach Queen Elizabeth National Park at a distance of 218 square kilometers, making a combined safari of tree climbing lions in Ishasha and gorilla trekking possible. The terrain of the Kisoro road is steep but offers stunning panoramic views of the landscape as the road dips and dives over high ridges.
All the routes to any part of Bwindi Impenetrable national park require having a four-wheel-drive vehicle as the roads are rough, dusty, bumpy and particularly muddy during the rainy season and Ruhija is not any different. Travelers can choose to do a flying safari as charter flights are scheduled to fly daily to Bwindi from Entebbe or Kajjansi with Aerolink. Your driver-guide can then drive you to your accommodation from the airstrip in about an hour’s drive.
The breeze in the hilly and forested Ruhija gorilla sector makes the coldness in this sector sting that you might dread your visit. Carrying heavy clothes to keep you warm is very essential alongside other items.
Most travelers who wish to visit the Ruhija sector in Bwindi specifically have gorilla trekking in mind. Gorilla trekking is an activity that involves hiking through a forest in search of the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habit and spending some time with them when they are encountered. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park inhabits more than half of the world’s total mountain gorilla population and are scattered in the different sectors of Buhoma, Rushaga, Nkuringo, and Ruhija.
Ruhija gorilla sector in Bwindi has three habituated gorilla groups that tourists can opt to track. Habituated gorillas are those that were formerly wild gorillas but made to adopt or tolerate human interaction for a period of time. Below are some of the gorilla families in Ruhija;
Bitukura gorilla family: This family consists of 14 gorilla members habituated in 2007. The family comprises of four silverbacks, four adult females, two juveniles, three infants and one little baby. The family had been large at first with 24 individuals but due to family conflicts, it divided paving way for other groups to be formed.
Oruzogo gorilla family: This gorilla family consists of 17 individuals with one silverback as its leader named Bakwate. This group is famous among tourists who visit and track the group. The family has playful and joyous members that keep the tourists entertained. This is one family that you might really wish to book a gorilla safari for.
Kyaguliro gorilla family: The Kyaguliro gorilla family consists of 20 members. The group split into two after the loss of the lead silverback who was struck by lightning, to form Kyaguliro A and Kyaguliro B. Kyaguliro A is headed by Rukara and there are ten members in here including I silverback, 2 blackbacks, 3 adult females,2 juveniles and 2 infants. Kyaguliro B has Mukiza as the lead silverback with 4 adult females,1 juvenile and 4 infants.
Ruhija gorilla sector is free from the congestion of tourists who come to trek these mountain gorillas as compared to other sectors. To be able to track gorillas in Ruhija, a traveler is supposed to have secured a gorilla trekking permit from either the Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters in Kampala or through a trusted tour operator. The cost of the permit is $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents and UGX250,000 for East African citizens. This gorilla permit allows travelers to trek gorillas and spend an hour with them once encountered.
There are other activities that can be done in Ruhija apart from gorilla trekking, say;
The Batwa community visit: Ruhija offers an opportunity to meet the people who co-existed with the mountain gorillas for such a long time. They are pygmies who are hunter-gatherers and wholly dependent on the forest for their day-to-day life including food. The Batwa in their polished animal skin for clothes, tire sandals and shorts will warmly welcome you to their homes. They will dance for you and they will share with you their survival skills or activities like hunting tactics, cooking, weaving among others.
Bird watching: Ruhija boosts of 23 endemics say the white starred robin, yellow streaked Greenbul among many others. The Albertine Rift has a lot to offer to the birders, they only need to be on the lookout and very keen. Bwindi Impenetrable forest is not named an Important Bird Area (IBA) for nothing. Carry your binoculars and be amazed at the number of birds you will be able to see.
Other activities that one can take part in include nature walks, local community visits and visiting schools and orphanages where one can take time to volunteer if they wish too- prior planning for this is however important.
The sector also has a number of accommodation facilities that one can choose from, ranging from luxury, mid-range to very budget lodgings. Campsites are also available.
Ruhija gorilla sector is a wonder on its own, opting to track gorillas from this sector of Bwindi is worthwhile. Get your trusted tour operator to take you to this beautiful region of Bwindi and you will live to remember the experience.