RUHIJA SECTOR – BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK UGANDA
The Ruhija Sector is located in the eastern part of Bwindi Impenetrable national park where Mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda takes place. Standing at a height of 2340 meters high, Ruhija is the coldest part of Bwindi Forest but easier to access from ishasha of Queen Elizabeth national park and Kabale as you drive from Kampala.
Ruhija is one of the four gorilla sectors of Bwindi where gorilla trekking takes place. The Habituated gorilla families found in Ruhija include; oruzogo, Bitukura, kyaguriro and Mukiza. Compared to other three gorilla sectors, Ruhija has less number of gorilla groups, meaning it’s not so busy like Buhoma sector and the southern secotors.
The main tourist activities in Ruhija sector is gorilla trekking and Bird watching. Gorilla trekking in Ruhija sector is conducted similarly to all other sections of the park. Trekking gorillas in Bwindi starts very early in the morning at 8 oclock with the briefing about the gorilla rules and regulations, expectations and then visitors are assigned to the family of gorillas to visit. Each group of 8 people per a gorilla family.
Only 32 people do gorilla trekking each day in Ruhija given that only 8 people visit each gorilla group and there are only four gorilla families. The gorilla permits here are not as competitive as other sectors and it is sometimes possible to get a gorilla permit in Ruhija at the last minute though it’s advisable to do prior booking to avoid disappointments.
The Gorilla permits in Uganda can be purchased from Uganda wildlife authority (UWA) through a trusted tour operator. They cost $700 for foreign-nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents and Ugx 250,000 for East African residents. Visitors are advised to book these gorilla permits at least 3-6 months before the safari starts.
There are more activities for visitors to participate in besides gorilla trekking while in Ruhija tourism zone and these include; bird watching whereby a big number of albertine rift endemics can be spotted here. The albertine rift endemics to see in ruhija include; Mountain masked Apalis, African green broadbill, purple breasted sunbird, handsome francolin, grauer’s rush warbler, stripe breasted tit and many more.
While staying in Ruhija sector for gorilla trekking tour, you can also get opportunity to visit batwa community and learn about their ancient past. Doing nature walks in the forest is also interesting as it gives you more chances to view and photograph different species of monkeys such as black and white colobus monkey, blue monkey L’hoest monkey, red tailed monkey and more not forgetting the most challenging yet interesting, the hiking to Mubwindi Swamp.
Ruhija sector is open to visitors all year round. The sector can be accessed by both road and air transport. There are charter and scheduled flights from Entebbe/ Kajjansi to Kihihi airstrip and visitors can connect to Ruhija by road which takes about 2 hours. Road trip is also interesting as it takes you through beatiful scenic roads connecting between Kabale and Kisoro road.
There are comfortable accommodation options in Ruhija, ranging from budget to mid luxury from which visitors can choose where to stay. Due to the extreme weather conditions on some days, lodges here provide visitors with hot water bottles and you can sit at fire place before you enter your bed for warmth at night.
Some of the best lodges in Ruhija bwindi forest include;
- Bakiga lodge
- Kiho Gorilla Lodge
- Gorilla Mist Camp
- Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge
- Broadbill Forest Camp
- Trekkers tavern cottages
- Ruhija Community Rest Camp
These lodges provide quality services and facilities in cottages, rooms, tents and cabins. From these lodges visitors are rewarded with beautiful views of the Bwindi forest, the Virunga ranges and the areas around.