Rushaga Sector Bwindi impenetrable Forest National Park
The Rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is found in the southern part of the park. It has the biggest number of habituated mountain gorillas amongst all sectors. Rushaga sector is the closest sector to Rwanda and ideal for Kigali to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park trekking tours. It is just a 4-5 hours’ drive from Kigali to Rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. The Rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is one of the four sectors in the park where you can trek mountain gorillas from. And the rest are Nkuringo sector located in the western part of the park, buhoma sector in the northern side of the park, and lastly Ruhija sector in the eastern side of the park. Trekking mountain gorillas in Rushaga sector need you to book Rushaga gorilla permits. Gorilla trekking permits for Bwindi costs $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents, and 250,000shs for East African citizens. The gorilla permits allow you to stay around mountain gorillas for a maximum of one hour and it’s sold to persons of ages 15 and above.
Gorilla families in Rushaga Sector Bwindi impenetrable Forest National Park
Busingye gorilla family
Busingye gorilla family is found in Rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. The gorilla family broke away from the Kahungye gorilla family in august 2012. The name Busingye was derived from a local word to mean “peace” given the dominant silverback. Busingye gorilla family is made up of 9 individuals composed of 1 silverback, 3 infants, and 5 females. This gorilla family is one of the hardest to trek because the silverback is fond of taking his family deep in the mountain tops to avoid intruders.
Kahungye gorilla family
Kahungye gorilla family was made up of 23 members at the time of habituation and was dominated by the silverback Rumansi but after habituation, the group split in a few months from the Busingye gorilla family. The group is now made of 13 members with 3 silverbacks.
Bweza gorilla family
Bweza gorilla family was formed after Bweza the dominant silverback separated from Nshongi gorilla family which was the largest gorilla family in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park by then to form its own in 2012. The group now has 12 members among which include 2 silverbacks, 4 black backs, 3 adult females, 1 juvenile, and 2 infant gorillas.
Nshongi gorilla family
Nshongi gorilla family was the biggest habituated gorilla family in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park at the time of their habituation, the gorilla family was opened up for tourism in 2009 when it was made up of 36 members and the name was got from river Nshongi where they were first sighted.
Nshongi gorilla family split in 2010 when the silverback Mishaya off with 10 individuals to form his own family now known as the Mishaya gorilla family. In less than two months Bweza also decided to break away and form his own gorilla family and the Nshongi gorilla family was left with only 7 members.
Mishaya gorilla family
Mishaya gorilla family was formed after the silverback Mishaya broke off from the Nshongi gorilla family the largest gorilla group in East and Central Africa to begin his own family, Mishaya was famous for fighting other gorilla groups to group members to his own family. Mishaya comprises 12 members with 1 silverback, 2 blackbacks, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles, 4 infants
Due to several fights with other silverbacks, Mishaya sustained several wounds that later led to his death on 3rd February 2014 and was buried inside the park. Mishaya gorilla family is now led by Mwine.
Where to sleep in the Rushaga sector
Rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park has several accommodations where you can stay based on your travel budget and these range from budget to mid-range to luxury and also camps. These lodges include Chameleon Hill Lodge, Nsongi Camp, Rushaga Gorilla Havens Lodge, Gorilla Safari Lodge, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Nsongi Camp, Clouds Mountain Gorilla, and Rushaga Gorilla Camp.
Activities to do in Rushaga sector
With different singing birds species spotted in Rushaga sector of the park, one can have great birding in this sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. Birds to see in the park include grauer’s rush warbler, western green tinker bird, Angolan swallow, chest nut throated apalis, finely banded woodpecker, montane oriole, African green broadbill, African wood owl, western green tinker bird, African citril, green tinker bird, short tailed warbler, regal sunbird, kivu ground thrush, mountain yellow warbler, montane oriole, emerald cuckoo, tit hylia, shinning African blue, white tailed blue fly, white headed saw wing, strange weaver, impressed African emerald, Shelley’s crimson wing, black bee eater, dusky twinspot, and bar tailed trogon among others which give bird lovers a great experience on the safari.
Guided nature walks
You can combine gorilla trekking with a nature walk while in Rushaga sector where you will walk through the forest with an armed ranger or walk up to lake mutanda for island tours. During the nature walk, you will see different bird species, trees, and forest animals among others.
Local community encounters
While in Rusgaha sector you can take a visit to the Batwa group of people who were the forest dwellers before the government displaced them to gazette land for animals. When you visit the Batwa people you will learn about their culture, they will teach you how they used to live in the forest and eat fruits, collect honey and use plants as medicine. They will tell you about their old stories and perform some traditional dances.
There are only 3 gorilla families undergoing habituation in Rushaga and these are Bushaho and Bukingi. The gorilla habituation permits in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park cost $1500 and this permit allows trekkers to stay around these gorillas for four hours. The gorilla permits are sold to people of 15 years and above while those with infections such as flu won’t be allowed to trek mountain gorillas. Those intending to habituate mountain gorillas in the Rushaga sector most especially in the dry season are advised to book their gorilla permits 3-4 months in advance. Only 4 people are allowed a day to habituate gorillas.
When to visit Rushaga sector
Rushaga sector can be visited at any time of the year but the best time to visit is the dry season. The dry season happens every year in June, July. August, September, December, January, and February. During these months, the terrain is not slippery and the roads are passable.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park receives rainfall at any time of the year so when you are planning to come to the park whether in the dry season or the wet season you should carry a rain jacket, waterproof hiking shoes, long-sleeved warm clothes, insect repellents, good quality camera, enough drinking water and energy-giving snacks.
How to access Rushaga sector by Air and Road transport
Rushaga sector can be accessed by both road transport and air transport based on your travel budget.
By air transport, you can use a chattered flight from Kajjansi airstrip such as aero link Uganda or fly Uganda from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kisoro. airfield or Kihihi airstrip and then use private means of transport to Rushaga region at your booked accommodation.
Visitors to the Rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park can access the park using road transport from Kampala/Entebbe via Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, Kisoro then Rushaga sector. This journey takes you about 9-10 hours with you exploring the countryside, great views of Virunga mountains, meeting local smiling people among others.