Although we are often reminded not to “sweat the small stuff”, sometimes it’s the small things that make all the difference. This is certainly true when you choose Buhoma Lodge as your base from which to trek endangered mountain gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda.
The group of ladies I was travelling with arrived at Buhoma, perfectly positioned on the edge of the National Park, somewhat unprepared for our bucket list gorilla experience. We’d overlooked ticking some vital items off our “suggested kit for a comfortable climb” list – things like a water bottle, day backpack, gators and gloves. Enquiring whether we could rent some of this equipment locally, we were soon fully kitted out by the attentive Buhoma staff, who are clearly used to looking out for unprepared trekkers and are ready to loan guests whatever they need, all complimentary.
It’s little touches like these, the heavenly post trek massage (complimentary again), and the laundry and shoe wash after a muddy hike (yet again complimentary), that leave guests feeling like well cared for members of the family and not just another traveller passing through.
The eco-friendly lodge, with just ten wooden chalets, has been constructed using sustainable, local materials where possible and uses solar power, with simple water boilers and bicycle driers just some of the innovative solutions to operating a low impact lodge in this remote area. Awakening to chattering monkeys and forest birds, and enjoying morning coffee on your balcony with uninterrupted views over the forest, is a most memorable way to start your day. With great food, cosy accommodation, and set just steps from the gorilla trekking start point, the warm hospitality of Buhoma is so renowned that even the odd gorilla has left the comfort of the mist covered mountains to venture into the lodge and have a look around!
Gorilla Trekking in northern Bwindi (Buhoma Area)
- Home to roughly half (around 400) of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population
- 56 permits available daily (3 gorilla families in Buhoma and 4 gorilla families in Ruhija, located approximately 90 minutes’ drive from Buhoma Lodge).
- Maximum of 8 permits available per gorilla family
- Minimum trekking age of 15 years
- Trekking is steep, hot and strenuous at high altitude
- Tracking gorilla families may take anything from 30 minutes, to three or five hours to locate
- Once located, trekkers spend one hour observing them
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
- A World Heritage Site
- One of the top 10 birding sites in Africa with over 350 recorded species (including 23 endemics such as the Short-tailed Warbler and Blue-headed Sunbird, as well as seven IUCN red data listed species).
- Home to over 200 spectacular butterfly species
- Bwindi Forest Walk can be undertaken with a Uganda Wildlife Authority guide, enjoying the forest flora and fauna, including monkeys at close proximity. A popular choice is the 3 – 4 hour hike to the waterfall.
Community Projects in the Area
Buhoma Community Village Walk
An opportunity to support the local community whilst visiting various interesting places as you wander through the village. Highlights include the traditional healer, banana brewery and Mukono Primary School where you can interact with the children.
Bwindi Community Hospital
Established in 2003, this facility has grown to become an essential service provider for the immediate communities and much of the surrounding areas too, caring for more than 100,000 individuals. Take a visit to learn how it is helping to improve the quality of many lives.
Batwa Cultural Experience
A full day experience provided by the Batwa Development Program allowing one to participate in the traditional lifestyle of the Batwa. You will see first-hand how the Batwa have lived in the forest for generations and how they depend upon their hunting and gathering skills for their daily needs.
Ride 4 A Woman
This initiative started by renting bicycles to tourists with the hope of generating money to start a skills training programme for women. As time went on, there became a need for bike maintenance and so local women were trained to do the repairs. The programme has since expanded when a group of Australian tourists assisted in starting a sewing programme.