THE PIONEER OF GORILLA TOURISM IN UGANDA
The Uganda gorilla safari destination of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park positioned in the south west of Uganda has built its reputation over the years and its current dominance in the region as the main gorilla trekking haven has not come on a silver plate.
Bwindi Impenetrable believed to be having a minimum of 400 mountain gorillas which is the largest mountain gorilla population in a single habitat and close to a half of their world population that currently stand at 880 is recognized to have pioneered gorilla safaris in Uganda. In the year 1993, the first group of world travelers arrived to track the Mubare gorilla family in the park’s northern sector of Buhoma following two years of the group’s habituation.
Following the successful habituation of Mubare Family and the respective visitation, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park rolled on the move to habituate more gorilla groups not only for conservation but also to generate more tourism revenues as it had proved possible. As a result, the park now features twelve (12) habituated gorilla groups while two more are under habituation.
These gorilla families are spread in four regions which are all accessed by travelers on gorilla trekking safaris and tours in Uganda. Buhoma to the north of the park is the pioneer region and apparently has three (3) gorilla groups namely; Mubare gorilla group, Habinyanja gorilla group and Rushegura gorilla family. Ruhija to the east of the park features three (3) gorilla families namely; the former Research group Kyaguliro but now available for tracking, Oruzogo gorilla group and Bitukura gorilla family. The southern sector of Rushaga features five gorilla families all which emanate from one gorilla family which was the largest to ever been habituated in Bwindi called Nshongi. Other four include; Mishaya, Bweza, Busingye and Kahungye. The Nkuringo section to the south west feature only one gorilla group named Nkuringo and the most challenging to trek in Bwindi. Interestingly, two more gorilla groups are under habituation in the southern sector namely; Bushaho and Bikingi which will be added on the list of gorilla families in the park.
With the strict management of Uganda Wildlife Authority operating four headquarters in the respective regions of Bwindi, the gorillas in Bwindi can only be accessed while in possession of the gorilla permit that is issued at its main headquarters in Kampala at a price of $600 for the non foreign residents, $500 for the resident foreigners and 250,000/= for the citizens but as well offering discounts in the low season months of April, May and Nov reducing to $450, $400 and 150,000/= for the mentioned categories respectively. Since each gorilla family can take up to eight (8) people in a day, it means that the whole of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has in possession of 96 permits which are supposed to be utilized by travelers interested in gorilla tracking safaris in Uganda. Other gorilla trekking site in Uganda is Mgahinga gorilla National Park with its single gorilla group called Nyakagyezi.