This walking itinerary can be conducted in either direction that being between Kisoro and Buhoma or Buhoma and Kisoro with a night spent in Nkuringo on the standard two day itinerary. The itinerary below details the route when walked Kisoro to Buhoma.
In the shadow of the Virunga Volcanoes towering over Kisoro you will meet with your guide/s from Nkuringo Walking Safaris all of whom are local to the region and each will contribute with his own knowledge and skills to enhance the quality of your experience.
Your first night will be spent in Kisoro or on the shores of Lake Mutanda where your guide will conduct a pre-departure meeting before the evening meal. This will be a short and informative presentation of the itinerary you will follow on your journey with us. During the tour to Nkuringo and onto Buhoma your guide/s will enlighten you further regarding the ethnic groups of people and aspects of rural life you will be party to on this tour.
Traditional dugout canoes will be utilized on the Lake Mutanda section of this journey where life jackets are provided. The route otherwise follows village footpaths through outstanding scenery with often 360 degree views of land, lake, mountains and rain forest.
After breakfast we depart for the southern shore of Lake Mutanda to be welcomed at Sheba’s Campsite (90 minutes walking).
The journey by traditional dugout canoe and walk from Sheba’s campsite to Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge takes about 8 hours. Traditional dugout canoes will be waiting for us to embark for the Mutanda section of the journey from the pontoon at Sheba’s campsite to Rwajenge landing site. The travel time to the landing site on the northern shore of Lake Mutanda is 3 hours.
There are many islands in the lake given over primarily to banana cultivation but one island is under the administration of the National Forestry Authority where it still maintains it’s primary forest cover and Vervet monkeys reside.
The lake and cultivated shoreline are home to many common birds including Hadada Ibis, Crested Cranes and Black headed herons. The land area is dotted with small homesteads where villagers are to be seen cultivating their fields and attending to livestock. Potato cultivation is prolific in the dark volcanic soils, where cabbages, green beans and peas are all also to be seen farmed on what appears to be impossibly steep gradients. The Kigezi and Kisoro districts of Uganda despite being heavily populated contribute substantially to the countries overall food production.
After a 20-minute walk from Rwajenge we join an unsurfaced road which we follow for a further 10 minutes to find the trail that leads up to the first rest and viewpoint outside of the Mubano Trading Centre. Continuing along the footpath you will pass through a series of banana plantations and fields of sorghum when in season. The sorghum crop is distilled into a very popular beverage known locally as Obushera. The distilled sorghum beer is extremely potent and consumed with great passion by both men and women.
10 kilometers before Nkuringo we reach a road junction where the track we have been following joins the main murram road from Kisoro close to Rubuguri trading centre. This point is referred to as Rubuguri junction in the documentation. Nkuringo Gorilla Campsite is a further 10km distant and 3 hours walking. Some travellers prefer to complete the journey to Nkuringo by special hire taxi. sourced from the trading centre. The views along the road are just breathtaking whether travelling by vehicle or on foot.
Tour groups can rendezvous with their vehicle at Rubuguri junction to transport those that are weary onward by vehicle to Nkuringo.
Overnight at Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge.
Day 2 – Visitors have the option to spend a second night in Nkuringo for Gorilla tracking activity. The Lodge is magical place to take in the ambience, to relax and visit community tourism initiatives. These include a well-defined community walk.
We proceed through the trading centre of Ntungamo to the National Parks offices at Nkuringo (300m) to pay park fees and secure the services of a national parks ranger guide to escort us to the national parks Headquarters at Buhoma. There are two routes that can be followed although both routes meet in the forest to become one before reaching Buhoma.
The two walking trails are known as The Ivy River and Kashasha River Routes. The latter trail is the most direct walk. Buhoma is 13 km through the forest on the Kashasha River Trail where the tin roofs of Buhoma are clearly visible from the Nkuringo campsite. The Ivy River route is ideally suited to tour groups that have vehicle support to either drop or collect them some 7 kms from Nkuringo along the Nteko Ridge at the junction for the Ivy River trail with the forest.
As there is no road through Bwindi between Buhoma and Nkuringo vehicles driving between the two locations have an incredible 170 km bone jarring journey taking some 6 to 8 hours to undertake.
Route 1 – The Kashasha River Trail begins at the Nkuringo National Parks office before proceeding down a steep slope through community land to reach the park buffer zone. The route passes the junction of two rivers inside the forest where after a further 20 minute ascent the trail meets the alternative route the Ivy River trail inside the forest 90 minutes from Buhoma. The trek to the Buhoma Park HQ on the Kashasha River Trail is 4 to 5 hours between Nkuringo and Buhoma or 6 to 7 hours between Buhoma and Nkuringo. The Kashasha River trail involves some steep inclines not least when proceeding to Nkuringo.
The trail offers visitors a close up experience of the natural wonders within a rain forest environment. Birds are prolific in Bwindi and your guide will point these out to you during your walk.
Route 2 – The Ivy River Trail also starts also from the Nkuringo Park office, where we follow a murram road downhill with views over the forest for some 7 kms to the Ivy river on our right. The Ivy River Trail within the forest is often walked by visitors that stay at Buhoma as a nature walk from the park H.Q. From the Nkuringo office to the Ivy River it takes 2 and 1/2 hours walking. From the Ivy river to Buhoma walking through the forest takes 4 hours. Total journey time 6 1/2 hours.
This Ivy river route ascends and descends gently through beautiful areas of the rain forest with several viewpoints from the murram road from/to Nkuringo over looking lush mist shrouded valleys. The trail is also an important footpath for local people travelling to and from Nkuringo particularly on market days to Nteko village on the southern boundary of the park. Monkeys, duikers, bush pigs and some of Bwindi’s world renowned bird species plus many butterflies can be observed.
Upon arrival in Buhoma you may opt to proceed to Queen Elizabeth National Park Ishasha sector.
Nkuringo Walking Safaris arranges day treks to the peaks of the Virunga Volcanoes along the border of Uganda. These include Mt. Muhavura, Mt. Gahinga and Mt. Sabinyo.
Why not consider including a Virunga day trek to your walking safari prior to departing Kisoro for Buhoma or on completion of your Buhoma to Kisoro trek!
Trekking on the Virunga Volcanoes within the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is certainly one of the highlights of a visit to this remote corner of western Uganda. Trekking itineraries to this location will normally be part of a larger itinerary that probably includes the Bwind Impenetrable Forest National Park. All treks here are strenuous day hikes returning to the hotel, guest house or campsite after each days activity. All treks are led by a National Parks Ranger and one of our Nkuringo Walking Safaris guides.
Mt. Sabinyo rises to an altitude of 3600m and provides a truly fantastic day trek to the summit of what is the frontier of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For the observant hiker glimpses of wildlife can be seen to include the elusive Bushbuck and the Golden Monkey which is only to be found here on the Virunga in Uganda.
Sabinyo with it’s five jagged peaks is the oldest of the volcanoes here. With two distinct vegetation zones Forest and Alpine it is an exhilarating one day trek with some very steep inclines aided by the assistance of eucalyptus ladders to reach the goal of Sabinyo peak. From the summit amazing views can be enjoyed of this volcanic chain of mountains into Rwanda that includes Mt. Karisimbi, Mt. Mikeno and the often snow covered Mt. Visoke.
Mt. Gahinga at 3400m is a perfectly formed volcano. On the lower reaches of the volcano the route passes through former cultivated land, reclaimed and reincorporated back into the National Park as late as 1986. A vast area of enormous bamboo forest creates an elaborate labyrinth of passages to wander through where the trail is picked up that leads to Gahinga summit. Many bird species can be observed here with sunbirds being the most obvious.
This trek is usually completed in six hours up and down so offers an excellent introduction to acclimatise to the altitude.
Mt. Muhavura and it’s enormous conical shape looms high into the darkness. Good weather is critical to reach the peak of Muhavura, this the youngest in the chain of volcanoes and it’s status is noted as being still dormant. The surrounding countryside shows evidence of volcanic activity everywhere with giant volcanic vents very obvious after the land has been cleared of vegetation for agriculture. Muhavura peak will drain the last bit of energy out of you as you fight for air in the rarefied atmosphere but you will be rewarded with stunning views through the cloud and mist as it rolls in and out. The crater lake is only a mere 20m in diameter and the area of the summit not much bigger than a golfing green. This is a 1200m ascent in 7 hours, very steep with few switch backs in the trail to give your legs the relief they are screaming for.
The descent will be rapid to the warmth of the tropical climate normally associated with equatorial regions and the lush vegetation of the lower slopes.
Nkuringo Walking Safaris activity is all inclusive and not exclusive. For independent travelers looking to experience our walking safari activities, below we have suggested public transport options.
There are direct bus services to Kisoro from Kampala that travel overnight arriving in the morning hours between 08.00am and 11.00am. There are also day time services that leave Kampala between 06.00am and 08.00am. The one way fare is Ushs30,000- and takes about 11 hours. Mini bus taxi services arrive anytime throughout the day from Kabale. Buses depart Kisoro between 05.00am and 07.00am for Kabale continuing to Kampala.
We are able to arrange special hire transfers from Kisoro to our site at Nkuringo for visitors by prior request only. This option is particularly popular with those wishing to undertake one day only of the walking itinerary through the forest to Buhoma. Clients tracking gorillas in Nkuringo can also take advantage of our special hire transfer service from Kisoro.
Buses depart Kampala by 06.00am for Butogota. These services depart Butogota daily at 06.00am to Kampala via Ntumgarmo. The journey time is about 11 hours and fare per person Ushs30,000-.
There are two faster buses from Kampala operated by Savannah and Perfect Coach that travel to the town of Kihihi some 45km from Buhoma. These buses arrive in Kihihi by 15.30 in the afternoon. You would need to take a special hire vehicle to Buhoma from Kihihi at a cost Ushs70,000- with some hard bargaining. You would expect be in Buhoma some hours before arriving on the direct Butogota buses where you would still require a private hire transfer to complete the final 15kms to Buhoma from Butogota.
For those continuing their journey north to Kasese or Fort Portal many participants proceed directly to Kihihi the same day as completing the walking safari to Buhoma. Budget accommodation is available in Kihihi as there are also night buses to Kampala.
Should you be considering one of our walking safaris as part of a larger tour of Uganda are a fully registered Tour Operator and able to offer you a more complete package to work around your walking safari itinerary including the sourcing of gorilla tracking permits. Simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org outlining your programme.