Rushaga Sector | Bwindi Impenetrable National Park | Gorilla Sectors
Rushaga is one of the four sectors that make up Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the home to the highest number of mountain gorillas in the world. This sector is found in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This sector can be trekked through Uganda and Rwanda as well via the Kyanika border in Kisoro. The high cost of gorilla tours in Rwanda has lately made the sector a popular one among travelers who wish to see and spend time with the endangered primates. Visitors connecting from Kigali to Rushaga are on the rise, and they are rewarded with wonderful views of the Virunga, Gahinga, Muhavura and Lake Bunyonyi.
Rushaga is known to have the highest number of gorilla groups, say;
Nshongi gorilla group: This was the largest gorilla group boosting of 36 members in the time but over the course of the years, the group has broken up twice to form other groups. Currently, the group has 25 members with the dominant silverback named Nshongi leading the group with 3 other sub silverbacks, 4 blackbacks, 7 adult females and 6 juveniles with 4 infants. This group was launched in September 2009.
Mishaya gorilla group: This group broke off from the large Nshongi gorilla group in 2010. The silverback managed to breakaway with 7 members and due to the aggressiveness of the group, it has attracted more members to join especially the females. The number currently is at 12 members with 3 infants for this particular group.
Bweza gorilla group: This group also broke away from the Nsongi gorilla family. The lead member managed to get away with 8 members. The group now consists of only one silverback, 2 infants and the rest being females and juveniles.
Kahungye gorilla family: Habituated in 2011 and opened to travelers to trek, the group broke into two barely after a year, forming the Busingye family. The group currently has 13 members with Rumansi as the dominant silverback.
Busingye gorilla group: This group was formed after a break away from the newly habituated Kahungye. Busingye, the head silverback is known to pick fights that contradict his name which means “peace”. The group is currently made up of 8 members.
Travelers are rewarded with a mountain gorilla habituation experience that can only be done from Rushaga. It is only from Bwindi’s Rushaga sector that the mountain gorillas are trained to familiarize themselves with humans before they are allowed to be trekked daily by tourists. 4 people only per day are allowed to visit these gorillas that are being prepared to accommodate human presence. Travelers are supposed to acquire a valid gorilla habituation permit at a price of $1,500 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents and UGX750,000 for East African citizens to be allowed to participate in this activity.
Trekking in the Rushaga gorilla sector gives you an opportunity to supplement your trek with wonderful views of the Virunga Volcanoes and the deepest crater lake in Uganda, Lake Bunyonyi. One can also opt to have a gorilla habituation experience while at Rushaga, permits must be secured way in advance though as it is also in high demand and yet allows few people to take part per day. Additionally, the forest walks with the Batwa pygmies who co-existed with the mountain gorillas for over 500,000 years should not be missed. The home visits, village walks and the handicrafts made by the locals could be tried out as well as your support could benefit those families.
Since Rushaga is located in the South of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, it can be accessed easily from Kisoro airstrip which is about an hour’s drive to the sector gate. Chartered flights can be arranged from Entebbe or Kajansi, and the flights usually take about an hour. Your driver-guide can then pick you from the airstrip and take you to your lodgings in the park. By road, the sector can be reached via Mbarara in an 8-9 hours’ drive that can be very rewarding through the numerous stops that are made say for an equator experiment at Kayabwe among other activities or sights that you might come across. Rushaga can also be accessed from Rwanda which is actually a shorter drive of 4-5 hours as compared when driving from Kampala or Entebbe, thereby making it possible to book a gorilla trekking safari to Bwindi while in Rwanda. The drive from Rwanda to Rushaga in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park gives beautiful sceneries that are mesmerizing.
To trek gorillas in Rushaga, travelers need to first purchase gorilla trekking permits from Uganda Wildlife Authority in Kampala or through a trustworthy tour operator at a cost of $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents and UGX250,000 for East African citizens. Proper identification is oftentimes requested to ascertain one’s residential status. On the actual day of trekking, travelers are advised to all gather at the UWA headquarters in Rushaga at 7:00 am where they will be briefed of what to expect and they will be issued with guidelines for the gorilla trek. Thereafter, they embark on the trek in search of the endangered mountain gorillas whereupon encountering them travelers are allowed only one hour with the gorillas. You can take pictures or videos but remember not to use flash cameras.
Rushaga has very many accommodation facilities to offer, from the budget, mid-range to luxury and very upmarket accommodation, all of which serve travelers with excellent meals, sleeping places, tranquility and have the best professional and knowledgeable staff all that are eager to help the travelers have a wonderful and memorable experience.
Still wondering why you should choose the Rushaga sector, Remember that:
- The sector has the highest number of habituated families, so you are most likely not to miss out.
- The drive in the sector is worth it, the hills, valleys and so much more are a wonder.
- You will be able to view the volcanoes at a far distance
- You can track from Rwanda, easily!
- You can actually book for a gorilla habituation experience
- Variety of other activities that you can choose from
- Several lodging choices
Rushaga gorilla sector is an exceptional region that one should not miss, book a gorilla safari there and be sure to meet face to face with the gentle mountain gorillas in their habitat, and experience you will behold.