Rushaga Sector | Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Rushaga Sector is one of the two mountain gorilla trekking sectors found in the southern part of Bwindi National Park in Kisoro district south western part of Uganda. This mountain gorilla trekking sector in Bwindi National Park is popularly known for having the highest number of habituated mountain gorillas’ families which are:-
- Nshongi: The group split from the Mweza group, this group is considered the largest in all of Bwindi National Park with 21 members though it was even bigger with 36 members. The group has 3 silver backs with one dominant silverback, 3 black backs, 6 females and 9 young members.
- Mishaya gorilla group: The group is a break away from Nshongi with the belligerent Mishaya as the dominant silverback leading 7 other members.
- Busingye: This group formed in 2012 when Bussingye the silverback broke away from another gorilla family called Kahungye; the silverback broke away with two females and now grown to 9 members with a young one from the females.
- Kahungye: The group was first trekked in 2011 together with the members of Busingye with a total of 27 members, however since Busingye broke away from it, the group has 13 members thus one dominant silverback, three other silverbacks, females and young ones.
- Bweza: Bweza group has 7 members with one silverback, females and infants; it also brokes away from Nshongi.
Rushaga sector found between Kabale district and Nkuringo Sector is about 8 to 9 hours from Uganda’s capital Kampala and can be accessed either through the Mbarara town or Ruhija sector.
Rushaga Sector is also accessed from Kigali through Kabale-Katuna-Kigali road or Kabale-Kisoro road. The entire journey is about 3 to 4 hours.
You can opt to flight to Kisoro airstrip from Entebbe International airport and then drive from Kisoro airstrip through Mutolere road about 1 to 2 hours to the Rushaga sector and the flight to Kisoro is 1 hour and 30 mins.
Rushaga sector is a scenic place with several high hills and virgin forest vegetation that refreshes the visitor experience in the sector. These terrains of this sector are the reason the sector has very many gorilla families because the gorillas in the sector keep separating from their groups and roaming in the different hills.
Rushaga mountain gorilla sector is the only sector where gorilla habituation is done in Uganda and for visitors interested in gorilla habituation they will acquire habituation permits and spend about 3 to hour hours with the gorillas. Mountain gorilla habituation permits cost 1500 USD per person per habituation experience and mountain gorilla trekking permits cost 700 USD per person per trek.
This sector receives 40 trekkers each day divided into 8 groups, each group visiting one of the 5 families in the sector. Rushaga is moderately a trek-able sector, it has some tough steeps but overall anyone can trek the sector; however, if they are physically fit its added advantage.
At 7:00 am the trekking experience starts at the park offices with a briefing at the sector’s offices about gorilla related information and guidelines for gorillas trekking. After the briefing, you’re grouped in groups of 8 and then each group assigned a ranger and a family. After that’s done, you will enter the forest with your ranger to locate the family you are trekking.
The entire experience will take about 6 to 7 hours with one hour spent interacting with the gorillas, after the experience you will be back at the sector offices for trekking certificates then head back to your accommodation.
On Your trekking experience you need to carry some snacks and water to refresh as you trek and your trekking gear should include but not limited to hiking shoes, trekking sticks, gloves, long sleeved clothes, raincoats and other things as communicated to by your tour operator. If you need help carrying your things on the trekking experience you are able to hire porters at the starting point of the trek.
Mountain gorilla trekking guidelines are normally available at Uganda Wildlife website, communicated to you by your tour operator and further communicated to you at the briefing session before your trek and they include: – not trekking while you are ill, following the ranger’s guidelines at all times, keeping a 7-meter distance, avoid direct eye contact, don’t use flashes while taking, don’t cough or sneeze directly in the gorillas, don’t litter the gorilla habitat, etc
While on your trek you are able to sight the virunga conservation area especially in Uganda and Rwanda. You are able to see about 3 to 5 mountains depending on where you are standing; the mountains are sabinyo, gahinga and Muhavura in Mgahinga National Park in Uganda and Karisimbi and Bisoke in Volcanoes National park in Rwanda.