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How to get to Bwindi Forest National Park for gorilla tracking
Bwindi is the most visited national park in Uganda because of gorilla trekking. There are many sections for gorilla tracking hence, the different routes that take you to the different sections of the park. Bwindi forest has 4 gorilla tracking sections and these contribute to the now 18 gorilla families available for gorilla trekking. Check out this link for information about gorilla tracking families in Uganda.
Despite the four sections, the park has two routes one, that connects the southern sector of Bwindi. That is home to Nkuringo and Rushaga gorilla groups. The other is the main Buhoma, which has sectors, Buhoma and Ruhija. Therefore, depending on the gorilla family you are tracking; below are have the different road options and also air options through which you can access Bwindi. These two sections are also linked by a route which is 3 to 4hours drive.
Main Bwindi – Route;
There are a number of routes that serve main Bwindi, Buhoma and Ruhija sector of Bwindi for those visiting these areas.
The Kabale Route;
You can take the Kampala Kabale highway for 5 to 6 hours. Then proceed through Kanungu district and Kanyantorogo before heading to Buhoma – main Bwindi. The second leg of the journey takes between 4 to 5hrs. Making the totals hours to range between 9 to 11hrs. This route is 414km.
The Ntugamo Route;
To get to Buhoma this is the easiest and most convenient route and it also takes you through Queen Elizabeth national park. The road is a combination of the paved road and a marram road making a total combination of 390 kms.
The Ruhija Route;
This route connects those visiting Ruhija through Kabale and it is a marram and rocky route. We always recommend you to use a 4WD. This is a 95km ride after Kabale and you can use it to access Buhoma too.
By air, main Bwindi is served by two airstrips and these include Kihihi and Kayonza airstrip. Kihihi has daily scheduled flights from Entebbe operated by Aero link-Uganda. Because of the terrain of Bwindi forest, there is a 1-2 hours’ drive from these airstrips to most of the lodges in this sector of Bwindi.
Southern Sector of Bwindi.
The southern sector of Bwindi has two sections as mentioned earlier on and you can access it through Mbarara- Kisoro from Kampala. Rushaga sector starting point for gorilla trek is on a slight different route compared to Nkuringo Sector. However, both sectors/ gorilla tracking starting points are 45 minutes from Kisoro Town.
The drive from Kampala to Kisoro takes 7 to 8 hours depending on traffic. Therefore if you add 1 to the starting point, the total driving time would be 8 to 9 hours.
The southern sector of Bwindi forest national park can also be accessed through Rwanda Kigali. The drive from Kigali through the Cyanika Boarder takes you all the way to Kisoro and then you can drive for 45 minutes to Rushaga starting point or Nkuringo gorilla tracking starting point. The Drive from Kigali to Kisoro takes 4 to 5 hours.
Bwindi is a forested and hilly area, and therefore, there are a few airstrips that serve the home of the gorillas. The Southern sector is served by Kisoro airstrip which is located in Kisoro town. There are scheduled flights operated by a number of airlines.
For those visiting other parks in Uganda, Bwindi is also closer to Queen Elizabeth and Kibale national parks. Therefore, a Uganda safari that includes the 3 is perfect and it could take you about 7 days. Check out our sample 7 days Uganda safari.
In conclusion, getting to Bwindi seems easy after reading this post, however we always recommend that you take with you a guide who is well versed with the area. This is because sometimes the roads, and closed due to fallen tracks or landslides and you have to search for alternate routes, which are not yet on google maps. For more information on how to get to Bwindi forest national park for gorilla tracking contact us.