Tourist Attractions in Bwindi Forest National Park

  • Uganda Gorillas in Buhoma Region
  • Uganda Gorillas in Ruhija Region
  • Uganda Gorillas in Rushaga Region
  • Uganda Gorillas in Nkuringo Region
  • Cultural Encounters
  • Bird Species

Mountain Gorillas in Uganda as an attraction in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Famous for Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda, the mountain Gorillas which are listed as globally critically endangered are descendants of ancestral monkeys and apes that used to live in the sects of Africa and Arabia at the onset of the Oligocene epoch (34 – 24 million of years ago). The fossil evidence shows that the hominoid species (apes) thrived in East Africa around 18 – 22 million years ago. The archaeological record about the evolutionary history of Mountain gorillas is short of depth but the research findings show that this primate group which was to evolve into gorillas separated from its common ancestor along with that of chimps and humans about nine (9) million years ago leading to the emergence of genus gorilla.  The earliest ape is thought to have been called Proconsul Africanus and is known to be the earliest relative of gorillas. The mountain gorillas split from their eastern lowland gorillas about 400,000 years ago while these two groups split from their western counterparts approximately 2 million years ago. The classification of gorillas has been an issue of debate. They were first categorized as Troglodytes before they were renamed back to gorilla. The taxonomist Colin Gloves suggested that they should be categorized as single species Gorilla Gorilla with of three sub species of Gorilla graueri (lowland gorillas found west of the Virungas) Gorilla gorilla gorilla (western lowland gorilla), and Gorilla gorilla beringei (Bwindi and Virunga endemic mountain gorillas). This was later reviewed in 2003 by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and they were categorized into two species Gorilla beringei and Gorilla gorilla. Contrary to what has been branded of them, Mountain gorillas are not very offensive and have got shy trait with great deal in vegetation. Their eyes are naturally frightening with a lot of fur on their bodies:

MOutain gorilla uganda safaris

As witnessed by the lucky clients on Gorilla trekking safaris and tours in Uganda, Mountain gorillas are known for rising to upright position when provoked and beating their chest with hands after charging. The Mountain gorillas are large and the most powerful amongst all apes. The males have an average height of 1.7m (6ft) and weight of 140 – 275kg whereas females are about 40 – 50% smaller.

Mubare Gorilla Family. The Mubare gorilla family is comprised of eight (8) gorilla members with 1 silverback and is famously known because it is the oldest gorilla family that was first habituated on October 15th 1991 and opened for gorilla trekking on October 13th 1993 following two years of mountain gorilla habituation. The Mubare gorilla family had twelve (12) members under the leadership of Ruhondeza the then Silverback. Unfortunately, in the month of March 2012, Mubare group was attacked by a wild gorilla breaking Ruhondeza’s leadership and confiscating some of its members.  The silverback Ruhondeza resorted to solitary life in Rubona community forest where it later died from on 27th June 2012 at 50 years of age while a sleep. After the attack, the Mubare lost the members to five though it was later joined by other four gorilla members along with a new silverback named Kanyonyi.

Habinyanja Gorilla Family. The Habinyanja gorilla family is one of the three Uganda Gorilla tracking  families found in Buhoma sector and has 18 members with 2 silverbacks. The gorilla family was habituated in 1997 and was later opened for gorilla trekking activity in 1999. The gorilla family derives its name from Nyanja which means a pool of water because it was first seen around the swamp.  The silverback Mugurusi was the head at the time of habituation and following his death its brothers Rwansigazi and Mwirima took the lead. However, these two were incompatible as Rwansigazi like moving a lot while Mwirima preferred keeping in close ranges thus they had to split. Following the separation, Mwirima’s sect became Rushegura and the later maintained the former name. Later, Rwansigazi abdicated the throne as the silverback of Habinyanja and Maraka replaced him. The groups sometimes meet harmoniously with no fights. Kisho is a re-known head of the female camp. Bwindi mounatin gorillas

Rushegura Gorilla Family. The Rushegura gorilla family contains 19 members including 1 silverback. It was formed in 2002 when Mwirima broke away from Habinyanja after having misunderstandings with Rwansigazi the then silverback of Habinyanja. Rushegura at the time of splitting had 12 members with 1 silverback and it derives its name from Ebishegura, the common flora species in the region where the gorilla family dwells.

Mountain Gorilla families in Ruhija Area

Bitukura Gorilla family. The Bitukura gorilla family is one of three gorilla families in Ruhija sector and has 14 gorilla members. The gorilla family is named after the local stream called Bitukura because it is where it was first sighted. The habituation of Bitukura gorilla family commenced in 2007 and since the gorilla family was commonly in touch with Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers, its habituation did not take long and by 15th months, it was already receiving gorilla trekkers. The gorilla family lived in a unique setting with 4 silverbacks in the 24 initial members thriving together though they later split forming other gorilla groups. In the early 2013, Bitukura gorilla family received a new baby born.

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Oruzogo Gorilla Family. The Nkuringo gorilla family has 23 members with 1 silverback. It is counted as one the new gorilla families that have been opened for gorilla trekking as it was opened for the activity on 20th June 2011. It is led by Tibirikwata and has got playful juveniles that make it interesting to encounter while on your Uganda gorilla tracking safari.

Kyaguriro Gorilla Family. This gorilla family contains 15 members including 2 silverbacks. In the beginning, the gorilla family was headed by Elderly Zeus who was later challenged by Rukina and died on the spot of the incident.

Mountain Gorilla Families in Rushaga Area

Nshongi Gorilla family. Nshongi gorilla family contains 18 members and is one of the five groups that are within Rushaga region in the south of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The Nshongi group was opened for gorilla trekking encounter in September 2009 and is the largest gorilla group to be habituated with 36 gorilla members. It derives its nomenclature form the River Nshongi where the family was first sighted. The Nshongi group split in July 2010 decreasing to 26 members leading to formation of Mishaya gorilla family. Nshongi further split in 2013 decreasing to 18 members leading to formation of Bweza gorilla family.

Mishaya Gorilla Family. Mishaya gorilla family contains 12 members with 1 silverback. The Mishaya gorilla group was formerly part of the Nshongi group which separated to become independent in July 2010 under the leadership of Mishaya. Mishaya is known for being fearless and he used to attack other gorilla families confiscating more members. Mishaya silverback passed on in Feb, 2014 and was replaced by Mwiine which can be encountered on your Uganda gorilla trekking safari.

Kahungye Gorilla Family. Kahungye gorilla family contains 13 members including 3 silverbacks. It derives its name from the local hill Kahungye which is located within the area. The Kahungye gorilla family has got the dominant Rumanzi silverback along with Ruhamuka and Rwigi. It was opened for gorilla trekking encounter in 2011 and in less than a year, it split leading to the formation of Busingye gorilla group which reduced it to its current number from its initial 27 members. gorilla safaris in uganda

Bweza Gorilla Family. Bweza gorilla family has 7 members and 1 silverback. It was formerly part of Mishaya before it separated to become independent towards the end of 2012. Conservationists thought that Mishaya would re-unite with Bweza again but it did not happen and eventually Bweza was introduced for gorilla trekking as an independent gorilla family.

Busingye Gorilla Family. This contains 9 gorilla members and 1 silverback. Busingye gorilla family separated from Kahungye in June 2012. Busingye is the lead silverback and the name Busingye means peace however, it sounds contrary to the acts of the Busingye silverback. He likes fighting and confiscating gorillas from other gorilla groups. No wonder by January 2014, the Busingye gorilla family had already gathered 9 members with 2 adult female gorillas and 3 infant gorillas making it interesting to encounter while on your gorilla safari in Uganda.

Mountain Gorilla Families in Nkuringo Area

Nkuringo Area

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Nkuringo Gorilla Family. Nkuringo gorilla family contains 19 members with 2 silverbacks. Nkuringo means a round hill thus meaning that the gorilla group was sighted on the hill hence its name. The Nkuringo gorilla family was opened for gorilla trekking in 2004 after two year habituation period. The group used to encroach on peoples’ plantations which prompted its habituation. Nkuringo was the group’s first silverback and it lost its life in April 2008 leaving being Rafiki and Safari as the prominent silverbacks. Safari took the lead and in November 2008, twin gorillas were born in the names of Katungi and Muhozi. Unfortunately, Katungi passed away at 1 ½ years because of illness. The hills of Nkuringo are hectic to hike during the gorilla trekking safari in Uganda.

Batwa people.

The Batwa people alternatively referred to as the Pygmies are counted among the last surviving groups of short people that dwelled in the hunter gatherer culture. They thrived in the tropical rain forests of Africa including the Afromontane forest of Bwindi Impenetrable before it was established as a national park to pave way for gorilla conservation. The Batwa believe in Nagasian their god whom they assert that he gave them the responsibility of taking care of the forests. They lived in the forests of Great lake Africa about 4000 years ago prior to the coming of the Bantu communities. The Batwa thrived on wild honey, edible wild roots, fruits and shrubs, medicinal plant extraction and small game hunting using bows and arrows.

Batwa cultural encounter in Bwindi

The Batwa were removed from the Bwindi forest in 1992 to pave way for the park gazettion implying that they were deprived of their traditional homelands for the new world that they were  not prepared to meet. They settled on the forest margins and the survival techniques that they had were very irrelevant to the new conditions which resulted into their suffering and a threat to their continuity. The coming in of the Philanthropists like the American Medical Missionaries – Dr. Scott and Carol Kellermans was a great opportunity for the Batwa. They secured land for them and facilitated a range of projects like school, hospital among others including Sanitation. The Batwa Development Programme (BDB) has been put in place to ensure the prosperity of the Batwa initiatives including promoting their heritage for tourism.

Birds. Ranked as the number one Africa’s birding destination by the Africa’s Bird Club, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a prime birding destination a birder can ever encounter while on birding safari in Uganda. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest offers impressive fro-montane birding opportunities with 350 species of birds of which 23 are endemic to the Albertine rift and 14 of them existing nowhere else in Uganda. The forest of Bwindi also has globally threatened species of birds like African Green Broadbill and Shelly’s Crimson wing.

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Other bird species that exist in Bwindi include among others; Handsome Francolin; Black-billed Turaco, Blue-headed and Regal Sunbirds; Cinnamon-chested, Purple, Black-breasted Bee-eaters; Western Green Tinker bird; Many-colored Bush-Shrike, Mountain-masked and Collared Apalis, Short-tailed and Black-faced Rufous Warblers and Mountain and Yellow-streaked Greenbuls among others. the eastern sect of Bwindi (Ruhija) has got great bird count and the morning bird walk in the region gives you opportunities of encountering handsome Francolin, white-tailed crested Flycatcher, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Ruwenzori batis, western Green Tinker bird, red-faced woodland Warbler, chestnut-throated Apalis, Mountain plus yellow-streaked Greenbuls among other birds.