Activities in Buhoma Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable national park
Besides mountain gorilla trekking tourism, there are several other interesting tourism activities that can be done before or after mountain gorilla trekking in Buhoma sector in the northern part of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park. Buhoma sector is most known as the pioneer and backbone of mountain gorilla trekking tourism in Uganda but to make Buhoma sector more adventurous sector for those who wish to explore the “impenetrable forest”, several wonderful tourism activities were introduced such as Guided forest walks / nature walk, Bird watching, Batwa cultural experience, Mountain biking, Buhoma community walk and butterfly watching.
Guided Bwindi forest walk / Nature walks in Bwindi
Guided forest hiking in Buhoma sector of Bwindi impenetrable national park has become more popular tourism activity with visitors to Bwindi impenetrable national park. Bwindi forest is an ancient rainforest and UNESCO’s world heritage site that has existed for several years and providing home to several wildlife species on the African continent. In 2019 Bwindi impenetrable forest national park was nominated by CNN travel as one of the best hiking destinations in the world. Therefore, you can extend your time in Buhoma sector of the Bwindi impenetrable forest national park beyond Gorilla Trekking adventure and penetrate the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for the guided forest walk / hiking on one of its many trails.
Guided forest walk / hiking is one of the best ways to deeply discover Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. During guided forest walk in Bwindi impenetrable forest, you will find a diversity of Flora and Fauna that is quite different and exciting from what you could be have met from other part of the World . Bwindi impenetrable forest has more than 120 mammal species however, most of them are small forest creatures such as several primate species like the Chimpanzees, Red-Tailed Guenon, Black and White Colobus, L’Hoest’s Guenon, Vervet Monkeys, Olive Baboons, Nocturnal Prosimians, Bushbuck, several types of duiker, Bush pigs, Giant Forest Hogs, Several small species of Cats and Forest Elephants (hairier, smaller, smaller tusks, one extra toe on each foot) although these are rarely seen like the other species. There are over 350 bird species, including the rare Shelley’s Crimson-wing and African Green Broadbill and other species include the Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters, Francolin, Green Tinkerbird, Yellow-streaked Greenbuls, Chestnut -throated Apalises, and Mountain Masked, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Ruwenzori Batis and White-browed Crombec, White-tailed fly-catcher among others. The forest has over 220 butterfly species, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos and many of which you will see on your forest hiking trails in Buhoma sector.
Guided forest hiking in Buhoma Sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park can be half day or full day activity. Full day forest hiking in Buhoma sector will take you from the north of Bwindi (Buhoma sector) to the South of the park (Nkuringo). The trail from north to south to Bwindi Impenetrable forest or reversed is a most rewarding. Most hiking trails in Buhoma sector and the entire Bwindi Impenetrable Forest are easy to moderate effort and a few are demanding and more of a challenge. The difficulty level is medium with a hiking duration of about 5 to 8 hours. Most of these trails were created and used by the ancient local people of the forest for like hundreds and others for thousands years ago such as the First People of the Forest which are known as The Batwa Pygmy People who left a low ecological footprint behind them.
In Buhoma sector of Bwindi impenetrable Forest national park, there are seven main well maintained hiking trails used hikers to explore the “impenetrable forest”. These include
Munyanga River hiking Trail
The Muyanga Waterfall hiking trail departs from Buhoma along the River Ivi-Nkuringo trail and ends in the breathtaking sight of the falls dropping 33 meters. This trail lead visitors through the most scenic Bizenga creek which joins the River Munyanga as they begin and end their trek at Buhoma sector, it is an ideal trail for bird lovers where they can spot several bird species with the help of your guide. The hike is a half an hour through breathtaking adventure.
The Habinyanja hiking Trail
This trail takes approximately 4-6hrs. It takes in a fairly steep ascent of the Habigorogoro and Riyovi Ridge overlooking Buhoma River. On this trail, you will encounter the legendry “African Corner” which was named after a rock piece portraying a map of Africa. Following the steep ascent, the keen hikers will enjoy a more relaxed gentle slope to the mighty Habinyanja swamp. Bird lovers while on this trail, expect to watch out for the African Black Duck, Pel’s Fishing Owl, and Black Bee Eaters, among others.
Waterfall hiking Trail
This trail allows you to sightsee different tree species, plants, birdlife, butterflies, scenic beauty, monkeys and many more amazing species which will make your hike so adventurous. This trail lasts for approximately three hours through a moderate hike to Buhoma sector. The waterfall hike trail is one of the most popular trails in Buhoma sectors that will let you explore the mysteries and beauty of Bwindi forest. The encounter things to you that you might not or miss, and it will be an enriching part of your time at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in the Buhoma region of the Park. The trail was a road leading people from Buhoma sector to Kisoro when gorillas and conservation were not on the mind of politicians – this was a great decision and you can enjoy the trail without vehicles.
Ivy River Trail:
The Ivi River trail is a 14km trail and takes about seven hours through a popular place known as Mukempunu – meaning “a place of pigs” – where you may meet wild pigs. This trail follows an old road through the forest and it is a full day hike but a very scenic route with several viewpoints along the way. During hiking, you may encounter several wildlife species like monkeys, bush pigs, butterflies and birds. This trail can either be started from Buhoma sector to Nkuringo sector or from reverse. But the best route would starting it from Buhoma and hike to Nkuringo – stay overnight and then the following day continue to Lake Mutanda and the town of Kisoro.
Kashasha River Trail (Buhoma – Nkuringo trail)
The Kashasha river trail takes about 4 to 5 hours right through the park linking two villages and offering an extraordinary views of the misty hillsides of the park as you go up the hills towards Nkuringo sector. From Buhoma sector, you can leave your luggage with your driver and meet you at the other side of the park. The Kashasha river trail will enable you to fully see the Bwindi an ancient Rainforest and discovering more of its inhabitants. It involves sharper inclines of about 600 meters up at the end of the trail. The views along this trail are so spectacular and you will find it so amazing to cover a distance of almost 7 hours by vehicle with 4 to 5 hours.
The Kashasha trail can be also start from Buhoma sector to Nkuringo sector or reserve but it is to be more scenic when it is started from Buhoma and ending in Nkuringo.
Rushura Hill Trail
The Rushura hill trail is the highest point of Buhoma sector in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park with an altitude of 1615 meters. This trail goes through one forest shared by two countries (Uganda and DR Congo). On a clear day you can view Lakes George and Edward and the Rwenzori Mountains as well as the conical peaks of the Virunga Volcanoes in DR Congo and Rwanda.
The Rushura Hill Trail is one of the most beautiful and enjoyably trails taking you through the forest canopy while meandering the terraces however, it requires some fitness. It is about 5 hours hike to its maximum altitude where you will be able to view Lake Edward and George plus the Rwenzori mountains, from the Buhoma sector head office, you will go through plantations and vegetation covers with lots of diversity of wildlife species especially monkeys that you may spot while swing in the trees branches over your head, the colorful butterflies, variety of bird species and some other small mammals like bush duikers. Once you make it to the peak of the trail, it will be so rewarding and you will truly appreciate the marvelous views from the two diverse countries of Uganda and DR.Congo.
Muzubijiro Loop trail
Muzubijiro Loop trail is about 6km walk around a hill and taking 3-4 hours. The trail rewards hikers with the most beautiful view of the forest, it involves hiking through the forest, and climbing to Rukubira Hill where the hiker will enjoy the fantastic view of the Buhoma areas of the Bwindi impenetrable national park, Virunga Mountains Massif and the western rift Valley below. During Muzubijiro loop trail, you will encounter several primate and bird species that will make your tour to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park in Buhoma sector so adventurous and memorable.
Bird watching in Buhoma sector
Visitor to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park can do several other adventurous tourism activities together with mountain gorilla trekking. Bwindi impenetrable is a paradise to bird lovers to spot numerous bird species. Uganda is one of the world’s best birding destinations having more than 1073 recorded bird species making over 50% of the Africa’s species and 11% worldwide with the highest number of different bird species that can be spotted per square kilometer making it so easy spot many species just within a short period of time and distance. In Bwindi impenetrable forest national park there are over 348 recorded bird species with 23 bird species being endemic to the Albertine Rift and 14 species unique to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and recorded nowhere else in the country such as the African Green Broadbill that is only recorded in the Ruhija sector and the Congo, blue-headed sunbird, the short-tailed warbler, Rwenzori night jar among so many others.
In Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, is a home to over 346 bird species making it one of the birders’ haven in Uganda with 3 species that are the only surviving representative of their respective genera such as the African green broadbill, short-tailed warbler and Grauer’s warbler. In bwindi impenetrable forest national park, bird watching is mainly done in Buhoma and Ruhija sectors where some rare Albertine endemics and lifers can be found in their natural habitats like the Mubwindi swamp, Buhoma Waterfall Trail, the Kashasha river valley and Ivy river trail.
Some of the bird species found in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park include;
Pink-footed Puff back, Jameson’s Antpecker, Crested Guinea fowl, Waller’s Starling, Grey Crowned Crane, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, White-headed Saw-wing, Buff-spotted Woodpecker, African Olive-pigeon, Cassin’s Flycatcher, Petit’s Cuckoo-shrike, Ansorge’s Greenbul, Ruwenzori Batis, White-throated Greenbul, Klaas’s Cuckoo, African Paradise flycatcher, Snowy-crowned Robin-chat, Mountain Wagtail, Cape Wagtail, Yellow-fronted Canary, Archer’s Robin-chat, Brown-capped Weaver, Dusky Twin spot, Lühder’s Bush-shrike, Vieillot’s Black Weaver, Blue Spotted wood dove, Shrike, Handsome francolin, Tambourine dove, Helmeted guinea fowl, Sooty Falcon, African Goshawk, African Wood-owl, Great Blue Turaco, African Pygmy-kingfisher, Elliot’s Woodpecker, Double-toothed Barbet, Yellow-whiskered, African Dusky Flycatcher, African Flycatcher-chat, Black Bee-eater, Ross’s Turaco, Angolan Swallow, African, Grey-cheeked Hornbill, Broadbill, African Hill-babbler, White-eyed Slaty-flycatcher, African Citril and Doherty’s Bush-shrike.
Bwindi Batwa cultural experience in Buhoma sector
When you visit Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, the Batwa pygmy experience is one of exciting activities that you must participate in. For many years before Bwindi impenetrable national park was gazzatted a national park, it was a home to the Batwa pygmy people who then used to refer them themselves as the original dwellers and keepers of the Bwindi forest. Later, when Bwindi forest was made a national park and a world heritage site in 1992 with a purpose of protecting the endangered mountain gorillas and other wildlife species, the Batwa pygmy people were evicted from the forest that made them to become conservation refugees in their own country a thing which made their life not remain the same because they were not given enough land to use and they were not used to life outside the forest hence making them living endangered. This is because for a long time, their life depend highly on resources from the forest such as they used to hunt some small forest animals using simple tools such as spears and allows, gathering bee honey, fruits and other plants for their consumption, they depended on shrubs from the forest to treat themselves and it is very true to conclusively say that the Batwa pygmy people lived in harmony with the forest and wildlife species such as the endangered mountain gorillas, forest elephants, chimpanzees and bird species.
In 2001, the Batwa tribe was nearly getting extinct however, they were rescued by the American medical missionaries, Carol Kellermanns and Dr Scott who bought for them land and established programs such as permanent housing facilities, hospital, school, clean water, sanitation projects and found ways that the Batwa people could generate income to improve the conditions of their lives. All these projects are managed and operated under the Batwa Development Program (BDP) which works closely with the Batwa community to try to ensure that their indigenous rights are respected and they benefit from the forest.
Where is the Batwa Experience?
The Batwa pygmy experience can be done in Buhoma sector in the northern part of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. The Batwa pygmy cultural experience was formed by the displaced Batwa pygmies as a way to preserve their cultural attributes, showcasing their cultural heritage and traditional norms to world and to educate their children for future existences.
Buhoma sector in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is famously known for being the backbone of mountain gorilla trekking tourism in Uganda with many well habituated gorilla families with each family getting over 200 visitors in a month, but there is much more nice tourism activities at this sector that can make your gorilla trekking experience more adventurous and memorable such as the Batwa pygmy experience which gives an opportunity to the visitor to experience the uniqueness of social, economic, cultural and lifestyle of the local people who lived in harmony with wildlife species before the Bwindi forest was gazzatted as a national park and world heritage site. The Batwa pygmy experience will take you to visit the different monumental locations in the Batwa community to take part in their several cultural and community activities, storytelling with firsthand information about Bwindi forest, wildlife species and how they lived in harmony with wildlife animals in the forest for several years. The Batwa pygmy people, during the cultural experience tour, will share and demonstrate much about how they lived, how they locally made their tools, hunted using local made tools, cooked, made use of the lest expected materials like sticks to make fire, their knowledge of how to use plants for both food and medicine and how they collected wild honey. These people highly depended on the forest and lived in the forest for so long time and co-existed with wild animals therefore, they have much forest experience than anyone else.
A day spent with the Batwa pygmy people gives you an opportunity to enjoy the following:
- See how they lived hunted and made tools in the traditional manner. Enjoy trying out your hunting practices as the Batwa people teach you how to target with a bow and arrow.
- Hike through the forest with the people once who lived in forest. You will have a Batwa local guide to provide you with the chances to deeply explore the forest and its habitants through their eyes.
- Visit the traditional Batwa homestead to meet women to teach you how to prepare, cook and serve local meals. You will also get an opportunity to test local dishes.
- Meet and talk to medicine men (Community herbalist) and learn how to use forest flora for medication.
- Listen to ancient and traditional songs.
- Meet the Batwa men to showcase to you how to construct tree-houses and caves.
Mountain Biking in Buhoma sector Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park
Mountain biking is one of the best ways to fully explore the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Mountain biking in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park follows a well-maintained trail starting from Buhoma to the Ivi River with 13km. Along this trail you may encounter several wildlife such as Red-tailed monkeys, Black-and-white colobus and Bushbucks. The mountain biking trail in Buhoma sector takes 3 hours guided by a local experienced guide with much emphasis on spotting some bird species and enjoying the beautiful views of the old forest.
Mountain Biking Safaris is an interesting experience where riders get an opportunity to see and interact local people since because the biking trails go through communities of the Kiga people. Biking safaris in Buhoma sector are operated und the organization called Ride 4 a woman Organization which basing looking at promoting women emancipation within Buhoma communities.
Buhoma community tours in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park
Bwindi Impenetrable forest National Park is found in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the east African Rift Valley along DR Congo. Its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of the oldest and most biologically diverse rain forests in Africa which has lived for over 25,000 years ago containing over 400 species of plants and more famously, as “impenetrable forest” providing home to over 500 mountain gorilla individuals roughly half of the world’s existing population. Bwindi impenetrable forest provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species like chimpanzees, Black and white colombus monkey and such as baboons. There are around 350 species of birds hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is neighboring with several local communities Buhoma, Nkuringo, Rushaga and Ruhija communities, all communities have local people such as Bakiga and Batwa Pygmy people who have impressive cultures norms and values. Exploring the Bakiga culture in Buhoma sector is so rewarding with village walks, craft shops, blacksmith visits, and vibrant dances – all against the astounding backdrop of the forest-covered hills of Bwindi.
Buhoma sector in Bwindi impenetrable national park has well prepared dramatic settings for cultural adventure tours that gives out a truly Africa feelings
The 3 hours’ Buhoma community tour walk introduces you to the local people and their culture starting with a tour to the handcraft shop which sells handmade artefacts like fabrics, wood carvings and beeswax candles by the talented local craftsmen and women. Communities have exciting performances like cultural dances mostly about their past and traditional life in the forest that will introduce you to another unique culture. During the walk you will also meet the traditional healers of the community who treats the sick with plants and roots, Visit local distillers to show you how to make juice, gins and beers which are tasty from bananas and finally visit the community development projects such as maize mill, microfinance circle, and a secondary school.
The Buhoma cultural walk can be done either after mountain gorilla trekking experience or before Trekking. This experience gives you an opportunity to have a picture of how the local people local people lived before.