Updated list of gorilla families and permits available in Rushaga region
Updated list of gorilla families and permits available in Rushaga region of Bwindi. South of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is Rushaga. This sector is boosting the chances of gorilla trekking in this sector, with about eight gorilla families open. Rushaga gorilla families include Busingye, Bweza, Kahungye, Nshongi, Rwigi, Mucunguzi and others.
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When you are interested in gorilla trekking in the Rushaga sector, state this from the start so that emphasis is put on searching for the availability of gorilla permits in Rushaga. When in the Rushaga area, you can also go for a gorilla habituation experience. The gorilla habituation experience is an adventure where tourists accompany a team of researchers and habituators in the wilderness to meet a semi-habituated gorilla family and spend four hours with them.
Other than the mountain gorillas, while in the Rushaga area, you can also take a forest where you may get to see other primates like the olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus, and others. An array of birds, including Albertine rift endemics, are present for keen birders to spot from just as close as your window seal.
Rushaga area is among the four gorilla trekking areas of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Other areas include Buhoma to the north, Nkuringo in the south, and Ruhija in the East. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was subdivided into these four administrative areas for conservation. The topography of Bwindi forest, which is volcanic with its features of ridges and plateaus, plus the dense vegetation, makes access from one area to another challenging.
What are the gorilla families of Rushaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?
Nshongi gorilla family
The Nshongi gorilla family acquired its name from River Nsongi, where it was first sited. Nshongi was a large gorilla family but split with Bweza family due to family disputes. 3009 Nshongi gorilla family was opened to public booking. Over eight members are part of the Nshongi gorilla family, but these numbers may change as more births and deaths occur over time.
Busingye gorilla family
Due to a family feud, the Busingye gorilla family parted away from Kahungye. Rumanzi silverback is currently the dominant silverback of this gorilla family. Visiting the gorilla family is very interesting as you get to see a number of interesting mountain gorillas. In 2015, the Busingye gorilla family was opened to public visits.
Kahungye gorilla family
In 2011, the Kahungye gorilla family was opened with over 27 members. The gorilla family was named after Kahungye hill, where they were first sighted.
Mishaya gorilla family
The Mishaya gorilla family is a breakaway from the Nshongi gorilla family. Its dominant silverback, Mishaya, wedged war on other mountain gorilla families to expand its numbers.
Bweza gorilla family
The Bweza gorilla family is a breakaway of the Nshongi family. Kakono Silverback challenged the leader of Nshongi, then called Bweza, and broke away in 2013.
Mucunguzi gorilla family
Locally, Mucunguzi means savior and is a breakaway of the Bweza gorilla family. This family was formed by a solitary silverback, Mucunguzi, by abducting members of the Bweza family.
Rwigi gorilla family
The Rwigi gorilla family is a breakaway from the Kahungye family. The gorilla family has its silverback leader as Rwigi. He had disputes with other silverbacks of the Kahungye family, so he left to start his own family.
Bikingi gorilla family
The Bikingi gorilla family, whose habituation process started in 2015, is now available for trekking. It was formed after a family feud, and the disgruntled members departed but were seen in the company of unhabituated mountain gorillas.
Note in the southern sectors of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, where Rushaga area is part, are two gorilla habituation experience families.
How To Book Gorilla Families for the Rushaga area of Bwindi
Have a date when you wish to do gorilla trekking and the number of gorilla permits you want to secure. From the beginning, state your interest in getting permits for the Rushaga area to ease checking availability.
At Encounter Africa Safaris, we assist in checking the availability of gorilla permits, booking them, and delivering them to our clients on the day of the gorilla trek. We also organize other safari logistics to lift the burden of arranging the gorilla safari off your shoulders. Our over ten years of planning African safaris have given us more experience in these safaris, and this is testified on our travel platforms like Trip Advisor, Safari Bookings, and others.
Upon receiving your inquiry, our safari consultant checks availability from the Uganda Wildlife Authority list and then gets back to you as soon as possible.
We advise clients to purchase these gorilla trekking permits as soon as possible because their status changes at any time without warning. A first come, first served basis is used when issuing the gorilla permits. No gorilla permit can be reserved without payment.
After purchasing the gorilla permit, we scan and forward you a receipt to confirm the purchase. However, we request that your specifics be added to your gorilla permit, like your full name as presented on the passport, nationality, date of birth, and passport expiry date.
On gorilla trekking day, our driver guide presents your gorilla permit to the ranger guides for registration before briefing when you book the complete safari package with us.
What is the cost of Gorilla trekking permits for the Rushaga area of Bwindi?
Uganda gorilla trekking permits currently cost $800 for foreign nonresidents, $700 for foreign residents, and 300000shs for East Africans.
The cost of gorilla trekking permits covers park entrance fees for 24 hours on the day of the trek, government tax, security, mountain gorilla conservation, local community support, ranger guide fees, one hour of gorilla trekking, and others.
The gorilla permit cost excludes tips, accommodation, snacks, packed lunch, and other personal expenses.
Can I purchase the Gorilla trekking permit in installment?
Yes, the Uganda Wildlife Authority allows an instalment gorilla permit purchase as long as you purchase the gorilla permit before 90 days to gorilla safari day and ensure you top up before 90 days to gorilla safari day.
When you fail to honor top-up days, the gorilla permit is re-opened to the public, and the deposit is not refunded.
Purchase it in full to save yourself from forgetting to top up your gorilla permit.
What Accommodations Should Be Booked for the Gorilla Trekking Safari in the Rushaga area of Bwindi?
Rushaga area, being the new gorilla safari hot spot, has a number of accommodations to book, but you can also overnight in the Nkuringo area. The Nkuringo area is a short drive from the Rushaga area, so you can choose accommodations there.
When booking accommodations for gorilla safaris at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you must consider where your permit is secured. This is to avoid having to drive in the dark from one area of Bwindi to another to catch up with early morning briefing. On the way, chances of encountering obstacles are high, like slippery roads, poor visibility, logs across the road, flat tires, and others.
Rushaga Accommodations: Clouds Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Safari Lodge, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Bwindi Backpacker’s Camp, Nshongi Camp, Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge
How to get to the Rushaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
You must have a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle in good condition with a professional and experienced driver guide. The drive to the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is winding because the Kigezi sub-region is a volcanic area. Sometimes, the roads get messy, especially during the severe rainy seasons.
Entebbe or Kampala to Kabale to Rushaga
From Kampala or Entebbe to Kabale, the distance covered is about 414 kilometers, and then it connects for 105 kilometers to the Rushaga area. You may also overnight in Kisoro town, about 35 kilometers from Rushaga. The drive from Kabale to Kisoro town is about 80 kilometers.
From Kajjansi Airfield or Entebbe Airport, daily domestic light departs to Kisoro airstrip, then catch a transfer vehicle to your lodge in the Rushaga area. The weather sometimes affects these flights as the Kisoro area sometimes experiences deep foggy conditions.
Charter flights can also be booked from Kajjansi airstrip or Entebbe Airport to Kisoro airstrip, then get on a transfer vehicle to your lodge in the Rushaga area.
When is the best time for Gorilla trekking in the Rushaga area of Bwindi?
Gorilla trekking is best done any time of the year when you feel ready. However, most tourists prefer the dry season. Although the Bwindi rainforest is known for its untimely rains, the dry seasons, which are June, July, August, September, December, and January, generally receive less rain.
The forest has less precipitation, and most wildlife, like mountain gorillas, various primate species, birds, butterflies, and several tree species, is quicker to spot. The trails in the forest are quicker to navigate because more sunlight is allowed to penetrate through the dense canopy to the ground. Even the rivers flow within the normal course.
The dry season is usually the peak Uganda tourism season, too, so you must secure the Gorilla trekking permit in advance. Demand for gorilla permits during the high season is high, creating scarcity. Checking and finding last-minute gorilla trekking permits and supporting amenities for the peak season is hard.
During the wet season, which normally serves as the low seasons, that is, March, April, May, and November, gorilla permit demand is lower. The opportunity to find last-minute gorilla permits is more open in the low season, although not always guaranteed.
If you have a limited budget for the gorilla safari but would like to upgrade without overspending, chances may be available in the low season. The service providers may discount their costs to break even during this period.
Is Gorilla Trekking in Rushaga Difficult?
Gorilla trekking in the Rushaga area is quite challenging as the terrain of this forest is volcanic. Different physical features were formed due to volcanic action, including ridges and plateaus. For years, thick vegetation has overgrown and tangled in these features, making the way quite impassable. Several trails are within the forest, and maintenance is necessary for them to be able to go through.
A ranger guide leads with a machete to help trim the draping vegetation that may obstruct the way.
To complete the gorilla safari, you need to have some level of fitness, as mountain gorillas sometimes spend time on the slopes or deep in the valley, where you need to trace them. The way may also be slippery and boggy from the regular rains that fall and decomposing matter in the wilderness.
Wearing the right gorilla safari gear helps you not to get hurt while searching for mountain gorillas, as there are tough surfaces in the jungle.
Which Is The Easiest Gorilla Trekking Family To Trek In Rushaga Area?
All gorilla families of Rushaga are interesting to visit, and it’s hard to determine which is the easiest to visit. The gorilla family that was easy to find the previous day may be the furthest to find the next day. After the briefing, you are allocated a gorilla family, but the criteria used during the permit allocation are hard to determine.
Sometimes gorilla permits are allocated according to age brackets, interests, relations, and others.
Having some level of patience and opening your mind to see other interesting features in the wilderness allows you to enjoy more than the wilderness offers, like beautiful landforms, sparkling waterfalls, and others. Enrich your experience in Bwindi’s impenetrable national park forest, also known as a biosphere reserve.
Is Gorilla Trekking in the Rushaga area safe?
Yes, gorilla trekking in the Rushaga area is safe because the gorilla families are first habituated before opening them to the public. Each gorilla trekking party is led by at least two well-trained ranger guides, one carrying a machete while another carries a rifle for emergency action.
Tourists must attend a briefing before the gorilla trek and be explained the rules of this adventure so that they do not violet any. Mountain gorillas may be serene, but when provoked, they charge, which may be dangerous to visitors.
The park’s security coordinates with other Uganda security agencies to keep law and order in and out of this park.
As a tourist, your personal security must be your concern, like do not wander the forest without an escorting ranger guide.
Spending time with the mountain gorillas is an experience like no other, contact us to plan your safari today.