How to organize a fly-in safari to Buhoma for gorilla trekking: Uganda is one of the few countries with the endangered gorilla species in the whole world. To begin with, Bwindi national park is one of the parks in the whole world which consists of about 400 mountain gorilla species. The park is located in the South western part of Uganda and harbors half of the gorilla species in the world.
Bwindi national park has got four sectors; Ruhija, Buhoma, Rushaga and Nkuringo sector. These sectors harbor different gorilla families that have been the major attractions of Bwindi national park. Buhoma sector is one of the most visited gorilla sector located in the northern part of the park harboring the endangered species of mountain gorillas.
Trekking in Buhoma sector is done on 4 different habituated gorilla families namely;
- Mubare gorilla-the first gorilla family habituated in Bwindi national park that has 9 members (however, there were 12 members of this gorilla family initially)
- Habinyanja gorilla family was habituated in 1997 and open for trekking in 1999 which had one of the largest group members of 30 members
- Rushegura gorilla family the group split from Habinyanja group in 2002 who left with 8 members with 16 gorilla members is the group available for trekking
- Katwe gorilla family one of the newest family which is comprised of 7 gorilla individuals.
Trekking here starts in the morning as any other sector in Bwindi national park with a briefing at the headquarters. Here, there are rule and regulations, tips and instructions given to the tourists to put into consideration while trekking. Only 8 people who are allocated to a family per day. More to that, the choice depends on age, physical fitness, personal preferences among others and trekking is led by a guide/tracker.
Trekking takes 2 to 6 hours of hiking into the jungle. Once the gorillas are spotted, you will have an hour’s time to watch the gorillas in their natural habitat. Additionally, you can take photos, record moments and watch them as they carry out their day to day activities.
Cost of a gorilla trekking permit
For any tourist to take part in trekking, you should have valid gorilla permit. Costs; US 700$ for the foreign nonresidents, US 600$ for foreign residents and UG 250000 for East African residents.
All gorilla trekking permits cost the same money in Uganda. Also, all permits should be booked in advance before you depart from your country to avoid inconveniences and disappointments. More caution should be taken especially during the peak seasons of the year when there is less rainfall. The months of January, February, June, July, August and September usually sell out very fast and therefore should be booked in time.
Booking for a Gorilla trekking Permit.
Booking for the gorilla permits is very easy if you ask Pamoja tours and travel company to help with the booking. We will check the validity of the permits depending on your planned dates of coming. In case the permits are available on your dates (of interest) of trekking, we will reserve the permit for seven days (when you have to pay for them). You will then send us your payment invoice for us to secure your permit. When the permit is secured, we will send you scanned copies of receipts from Uganda Wildlife Authority. After that process is complete, you will be good to go.
Fly-in safari to Buhoma
The main airstrips which make Buhoma sector accessible are Kihihi airstrip and Ishasha airstrip which are 1-2 hours away from the sector. These can be accessed using domestic flights from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airstrip. Aero link is the major aircraft that handles and organizes flights both in the morning which is at 8AM and 12PM. Flights from Entebbe/Kajjansi airstrip take about 1 hour time to Kihihi or Ishasha, this leaves you a lot of spare time compared to those who use road transport which takes up to 8-9 hours. For those interested in organizing such fly-in safaris to Buhoma, contact Pamoja tours and travel company to help you in planning for your trip, tailor safaris and also book your flight and accommodation. You don’t have to lift a figure to do anything if you book your trip with us.
Other activities to do in Buhoma sector.
The sector has a bigger advantage that you can access it through Queen Elizabeth national park and Ishasha where you are free to add game drives to your trekking safari. Ishasha has a magnificent land scape with uniquely rare savannah woodland tree species like;
- the huge fig trees
- Cactus tress
- Acacia trees
Interestingly, you can only find these in Queen Elizabeth national park in the whole of East Africa. The sector is recognized for its unimaginable inhabitants. For instance, the tree climbing lions which are usually in the Southern section of this park hanging on branches of huge trees.
From Ishasha to Buhoma is just a 1 hour drive therefore giving you a chance to enjoy the wild and the forest on the same trip. Due to the fact that Ishasha sector is near, a tourist can access Buhoma sector through Ishasha airstrip.
There are a number of bird species in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park which are suitable for bird lovers after treks. Most birding takes place at River Munyaga. While there, be sure to enjoy the special bird species that are only remaining in Bwindi. For instance;
- African green broadbill
- short tailed warbler
- Grauer’s warbler
In case you are a birder, you should carry your binoculars to catch sight of birds in air and those far away. Also, take your bird guide as you trek for a better experience. You can organize a full day for bird watching since there are about 400 bird species to see in Bwindi forest. Some of them include;
- African citril
- Jameson’s antpecker
- pink-footed puff back
- Waller’s starling
- Crested guinea fowl
- Barred long-tailed cuckoo
- Grey crowned crane
- White headed saw-wing
- yellow-ramped tinkerbird
Natural walks and rest at Lake Bunyonyi.
You can take the simple natural walks at your pace with a guide in the forest for safety reasons especially when it comes to routes. These natural walks give you a chance to catch sight of some of the birds, primates, wild animals and different tree species that you never had a chance to see while on a trek since during these treks, guides usually follow specific routes. This requires hiking as well for either a short or a long distance into the forest where you will be able to cross swamps, rivers and water falls. After such walks, rest at Lake Bunyonyi, one of the fresh water lakes where you can catch up with boat cruises and several water sports like canoeing. Visit the beautiful islands on Lake Bunyonyi which make it one of the natural wonders of the world with 29 islands in total.
Batwa cultural encounter.
Experience the diverse and original forest life culture of the Batwa pygmies who lived in Bwindi impenetrable forest long before as their home. This can be among your activities after your gorilla trek.
Furthermore, learn about their heritage and traditions. For instance;
- how they make music out of their wooden music instruments
- harvest wild honey
- hunt and make wildfire using stones among others
There are also a number of volunteer opportunities. They came into existence due to the availability of a various conservation projects in Buhoma sector. Some of them are; Conservation through Public Health (CTPH), schools and hospitals for the Batwa pygmies.
You can take visits in the local villages, communal markets and take part in day to day activities of the locals like food preparation, brewing local beers, coffee picking etc. There is local entertainment like sons and dance of the Batwa and the Bakiga who live on the out skirts of Bwindi Impenetrable forest. You can engage in bike ride treks with local residents which reward visitors with yet exceptional experience.
Accommodation facilities in Buhoma
The sector has got a number of accommodation facilities which offer various services, the best for customer’s comfort. You can stay in any lodge you wish which fits your budget and interests. These facilities vary in prices and services starting from budget accommodation, midrange accommodation and luxury accommodation.
While staying in Buhoma, consider some of the following lounges like;
- Mahogany springs lodge
- Bwindi lodge, gorilla forest camp
- Bwindi volcanoes lodge
- Clouds mountain gorilla lodge
- Buhoma lodge
- Rushaga gorilla camp,
- Four gorilla lodge, Rushaga gorilla havens lodge of Rushaga,
- Nkuringo Bwindi gorilla lodge
- Clouds mountain gorilla lodge
- Trekker’s tavern lodge, Bakiga lodge
- Lake Bunyonyi lodges in Kabale.
Ensure that you book your accommodation in time to avoid disappointments especially during the peak seasons of the year.