BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK
Uganda’s most important tourist hotspot is the 331km2 Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which protects a rugged landscape of steep hills and valleys abutting the Congolese border south of Ishasha and north of Kisoro. Rolling eastward from the Albertine Rift Escarpment, the tangled forested slopes of Bwindi provide shelter to one of Africa’s most diverse mammalian faunas including 45% of the global mountain gorilla population. Unsurprisingly, the main tourist activity in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is gorilla tracking, which was first established at the Buhoma park headquarters in 1993, but now operates out of four trailheads –the others being Nkuringo, Ruhija and Rushaga – all of which are served by a selection of tourist lodges. Today 11 habituated Gorilla groups can be tracked in Bwindi. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is also one of the finest birding destinations in Uganda, while other attractions include forest walks in search of smaller primates such as golden monkeys, black and white colobus and L’Hoest’s monkey.
NKURINGO GORILLA CAMP
Bwindi’ second Gorilla tracking trailhead, which opened in 2004 after habituation of the group that started in 1996, lies at an altitude of 2,100m on the park’s southwestern border north of Kisoro. The surrounding hills are densely settled by farmers. It is a very scenic area, set along the Nteko Ridge, which provides grandstand views across the Kashasha River Valley into Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the forest which cloaks the valley’s northern slopes. Nkuringo means ‘round stone’ and refers to knoll-like forested hill that’s set beside the river, but is dwarfed by loftier ridges above it. To the south and west superb panoramas include the entire length of the Virunga volcanic range. The International Gorilla Conservation Programme has purchased 10km-long by 400m-wide strip of public land along the river as a buffer zone for the growth of crops that are not appealing to Gorillas.
What to do and see
One habituated group of Gorillas can be tracked at Nkuringo. It was comprised of 21 individuals, but the two dominant silverbacks went their own ways in 2014, so the original Nkuringo Group now consists of 12individuals including three silverbacks, while the splinter Bushaho Group contains nine individuals and just one silverback. The latter was being habituated at the time of research and should open to tourism towards the end of 2016.
Buinga Community Forest
Meet the Batwa, then and now the, the 3 km 2patch of the regenerating forest on the outskirts of Nkuringo village is owned by the local Batwa community and inhabited by a variety of monkeys and birds. A 2-3 hours guided trail through the forest gives you the chance to see the Batwa and is usually followed followed by a visit to the contemporary settlement of Snuriia, where 150 of the former hunters-gatherers have been resettled about 4 km from Nkuringo. Batwa guides demonstrate aspects of their traditional forest life-creating shelter, firing bows and arrows, making fire, identifying medicinal herbs. The enjoyable and informative guided walks can be arranged trough Nkuringo gorilla camp.
Nkuringo Community Walk
This community activity provides insights into Bakiga life and culture, with visit to a traditional healer, black smith, brewer and homestead in the vicinity of Nkuringo village.
Nature walks into the national park can be arranged, but the steep nature of descent (and ascent) makes it a less appealing project that than at the other trailheads. Nkuringo is a superbly scenic area with great potential for hiking outside the forest, through the possibilities for haphazard exploration are pretty limited. The steep nature of Nteko ridge means the main alternatives for a pleasant stroll are either west along the ridge-top road towards DRC or east towards Rubugeri.
Walking Safari Activity
Guided nature walks between buhoma in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Canoe excursions on Lake Mutanda on wards to the town of Kisoro via Nkuringo and vice versa. the experience offers a low cost insider's perspective into the village life in rural Uganda and we will highlight to you some of the wonders of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest all at your own pace.
Luxury; Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge
Midrange; Nkuringo Gorilla Camp
Budget; Bwindi Packers Lodge