Rushaga gorilla sector

August 29, 2023 | Bujo Safaris

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the oldest rainforests in Africa located in Southwestern Uganda at the DR Congo and Uganda border, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site consisting of more than 160 tree species and 10 fern species, 350 bird species and more than 600 members of the endangered mountain gorilla specie and that is almost half of the world’s total population.

Bwindi is the best place to go gorilla trekking in Uganda, it not only has more gorilla families found in any of the four sectors of the park but also offers scenic views of the Albertine Rift valley and Virunga mountains.

Bwindi has four sectors harboring the mountain gorillas and these are Buhoma, Nkuringo, Ruhija and Rushaga and each of them offers unique experiences.

Rushaga Sector

Located in the southern part of the park in Kisoro district, Rushaga sector is known for having the most habituated gorilla groups and hence offers the highest number of gorilla permits in the park since only 8 people are allowed to visit the gorillas in 24 hours, this makes it the most visited sector in the park. The park has 8 fully habituated gorilla families and 1 more still undergoing the habituation process which takes 2-3 years for the gorillas to fully get used to human presence. 

This is the only park where tourists can enjoy the habituation experience that lets tourists meet gorilla families that are still being trained to get accustomed to human presence. The habituation process experience lets you be part of the research program that readies the gorillas for gorilla trekking. Tourists spend more than 4 hours with gorilla families in the wild observing how they react to different surroundings that involve human presence.

When in the Rushaga sector, you are able to enjoy scenes of the rift valley escarpment, Virunga Mountains such as Mount Sabinyo and Bisoke beyond the hills. The beautiful Lake Mutanda, a lava dammed lake can also be viewed in this sector and visitors can enjoy boat rides there after the tiring gorilla treks. 

Gorilla Families in Rushaga Sector

Some of the gorilla families located in this sector are Nshongi, Busingye, Mucunguzi, Bweza, Rwigi, Mishaya, Kahungye and Bikyingi.

Nshongi Gorilla family: This is the largest gorilla family in the park with 25 members inclusive of four silverbacks. It is a fully habituated group that opened for visits in 2009 and got its name from river Nshongi where it was first seen.  The group once had 30 members before Bweza and Mishaya broke away from it.

Mishaya Gorilla family: Led by strong and dominant silverback Mishaya who broke away from Nshongi to form his own group in 2010. After collecting some females to be part of his newly formed group, the family now has 12 members led by Mwine. Mishaya loved fights and always started raids on other families in the pursuit to gain more females and one of them almost led to the death of an infant that was rescued by rangers.

Busingye Gorilla family: This is another family that was created after Busingye left the Kuhungye group in 2012, it currently has nine members led by Busingye which means peaceful however its leader doesn’t portray peace as the name suggests. The group was opened to tourists in 2013.

Mucunguzi gorilla family: This group was just from the habituation process that it completed in 2018, its name means “savior” and is led by Mucunguzi a calm silverback that broke from the Kahungye family. It currently has 12 members, a silverback, three adult females, infants and juveniles.

Bweza Gorilla family: Formed in 2013 by Bweza the dominant silverback who left the Nshongi family, the family still stays close to the Nshongi family and rangers thought they would reunite but it’s yet to happen. It currently has ten members and was first visited in 2014.

Rwigi Gorilla family: Rwigi formed this group after parting ways with his family, it has 10 members and was created recently in 2017. Rwigi means “wise” in the local dialect and it is depicted in his strategic and smart ways of leadership.

Bikyingi Gorilla family: This is a gorilla group spent over 5 years undergoing habituation, it has 15 members and was formed in 2012 when Mishaya family members split and dispersed but completed habituation in 2016. The group is led by Bikyingi which means ‘courageous’ and he has been observed to be a brave leader.

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