Buhoma Gorilla Sector

Buhoma gorilla sector is situated in the northern section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and one of the four sectors that make up the Park. Buhoma gorilla sector is the Park’s most popular trailhead since it stands at the lowest altitude of 1400 meters compared to the other three gorilla sectors making gorilla trekking in this sector much easier due to the nature of terrain. Buhoma gorilla sector holds the pride of being the first gorilla sector to present a fully habituated gorilla family known as Mubare gorilla family ready for trekking in 1993 and thus paving way for gorilla tourism in Uganda. This sector is as well known to hold Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’s head trails such as the Munyaga River trail, waterfalls trail, Muzabajiro loop trail, River Ivi trail and the Rushara hill trail and thus making it the perfect sector to carry out several other tourist activities for example nature walks and hike, bird watching, other primate trekking, community walks and many more. Buhoma gorilla sector is currently known to harbor six habituated gorilla families namely Mubare gorilla family, Habinyanja gorilla family, Rushegura gorilla family, Muyambi gorilla family, Katwe gorilla family and Binyindo gorilla family.

Gorilla families

Mountain gorilla families in Buhoma gorilla sector include;

Mubare gorilla family

Mubare gorilla sector is one of the Park’s ancient gorilla families that was habituated in 1991 and mad readily available for trekking in 1993 where in received its first visitors or trekkers on 13th October 1993. This gorilla family derives its name from the “Mubare hills” in Buhoma where it was usually seen foraging. From the time this gorilla family was first sighted and throughout its entire habituation process, it was under the leadership of a dominant silverback known as Ruhondeza who led a family of about 18 members by then. Ruhondeza’s down fall came as a result of his old age since he wasn’t energetic enough to lead and protect his family which attracted his oldest son Kanyonyi into leadership. Ruhondeza was forced to leave a solitary life in the nearby community forest having lost powers to his old son and he later died at the age of 50years in June 2012 due to old age. Park rangers found him dead in his nest in the nearby community forest and he was later buried near the UWA main building in Buhoma where tourists can visit his graveyard after gorilla trekking. He was known for his selfishness where he practiced infanticide to kill and eliminate the would be future competitors and leaders of the family until he was weakened by aging. Ruhondeza’s son Kanyonyi was also attacked by a non-habituated and wild gorilla Maraya in November 2017 who killed him after an intense fight since Kanyonyi had been weakened by an accidental fall from a high tree where he had sustained injuries to an extent of cracking his skull. This forced some members to quit the group and seek refuge in other gorilla families which left Mubare gorilla family with only 5 members. Mubare gorilla family is currently composed of 6 members under the leadership of Maraya silverback, 3 adult females and 2 infants. The number of Mubare’s family members is expected to increase due to new births and migrations from other gorilla groups or further reduce due to deaths. This gorilla family was once a simpler group to trek within the Buhoma sector since it periodically lived close to Buhoma sector headquarters unlike current days where trekkers have to labor and trek for hours before finding this gorilla family.


Habinyanja gorilla family

Habinyanja gorilla family is the sector’s second gorilla family to be habituated after gorilla family. This gorilla family’s habituation process commenced 1997 and by 1999 it was readily available and open for gorilla trekking. Habinyanja gorilla family derives its name from “Nyanja” that means a Lake in local Rukiga language referring to a swamp where this gorilla family was first sighted. From the time of habituation, this gorilla family was seen under the leadership of an old Mugurusi silverback a name that means “old man” in Rukiga. By then, this gorilla family was made up of over 30 members with four silverbacks which was one of the highest amongst the Park’s gorilla groups let it be habituated or wild. The four silverbacks that were part of this family include Rwansigazi, Makara, Mwirima and one other unnamed. Mugurusi silverback later died due to old age which left the family under the leadership of two silverbacks that is to say Rwansigazi and Mwirima who harmoniously shared powers. This group later on split peacefully in 2002 with some members following Mwirima and the others staying with Rwansigazi especially those that preferred adventure. This family that stayed with Rwansigazi as its leader retained the family name Habinyanja while the other that went with Mwirima was named Rushegura derived from a local Rukiga phrase “Ebishegura” which is a tree species that was so abundant in the area where it used to thrive and forage. The Habinyanja gorilla family currently has18 members that keep on altering and these include 1 silverback, 4 blackbacks, 4 adult females, 3 juveniles and an infant.

Rushegura gorilla family

Rushegura gorilla family derives its name from Plant species locally known as “ebishegura” in Rukiga where this gorilla family was often sighted foraging. This gorilla family is a breakaway of the Habinyanja gorilla family in 2002 during the reign of the two silverback gorillas namely Rwansigazi and Mwirima. The two silverbacks divided the Habinyanja gorilla family with Rwansigazi retaining the leadership of the group whereas Mwirima became the leader of the newly formed Rushegura group. This group started with 7 members but later increased to 19 members before he finally died in 2014. After his death, a silverback gorilla known as Kabukojo assumed leadership ensuring that he determines the group’s movements by leading them to the appropriate foraging areas as well as mediating misunderstandings and conflicts within the family. Rushegura gorilla family has up to 15 members that are subjected to alterations due to new births and deaths while others decide to leave or join the group. Family members include 1 silverback, 6 adult females, 3 blackbacks, 1 sub-adult female, 3 juveniles and 1 infant.

Muyambi gorilla family

The Muyambi gorilla family is a break away from the Mubare gorilla group where one of the adult gorillas left the family to form his own family known as Muyambi gorilla group. This group is led by a silverback known as Muyambi after which this family was named. This gorilla family broke away from Mubare in 2019 with 6 members and by 2020 it was readily available for trekking since its members had already been habituated while in Mubare gorilla family. Muyambi gorilla family welcomed a newly born baby in May 2020 making the number of family members rise to 7 family members. It is awe-inspiring and a once in a lifetime experience to closely watch the gorillas as they go by their routine life while they eat, rest, communicate and move on ground.

Katwe gorilla family

Katwe gorilla family is believed to have broken away from the sector’s oldest gorilla family known as Mubare gorilla family. This gorilla family gets its name from Katwe hills where researchers and Park officials started the habituation process of this gorilla family. It is led by a dominant silverback gorilla known as Mahaane that was also originally part of Mubare. Katwe currently has 9 family members including 2 silverbacks, 2 blackbacks, 3 adult females and 2 sub-adult females.

Binyindo gorilla family

Binyindo gorilla family is Buhoma sector’s newly habituated gorilla group that was opened after researchers and Park rangers followed after the group for 3 years so as it gets used to human presence in its natural habitat. This gorilla family was named after the head of the family, a silverback’s nasal features. Binyindo gorilla family is currently of 9 members including 1 silverback gorilla, 5 adult females, 2 juveniles and 1 infant.


Buhoma gorilla sector can easily be accessed from Kampala or Entebbe by one driving through routes such as Masaka-Mbarara-Ntungamo-Rukungiri then to Kihiihi and later connecting to Buhoma in the northern section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The driving distance of this rout is about 550km that may last for approximately 8-9hours. The alternative driving route from Kampala is Masaka-Mbarara-Kabale via Kanungu and then reaching Buhoma. This gorilla sector can as well be accessed form Queen Elizabeth National Park through the Ishasha sector situated in the South of Queen Elizabeth and driving for about 4 hours to Buhoma sector. By air, this gorilla sector can be accessed by booking a chartered domestic flight from Entebbe International airport or Kajjansi airstrip to Kihiihi airstrip and then embarking on a 4 and a half hours drive to Buhoma sector. It is also easy to connect to Buhoma from other gorilla sectors of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for example one can have  a 2 hours’ drive from Ruhija to Buhoma for a double gorilla trek. From this gorilla sector, one can as well easily access other National Parks such as Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale National Park, Mountain Rwenzori National Park and others to engage in other tourist activities like wildlife viewing, mountain hiking and many more.

Buhoma gorilla sector can as well be accessed from Kigali Rwanda by booking a flight to Kigali International Airport and then driving to Buhoma through Katuna border in Kabale which is a 5 to 6 hours’ drive.

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