Your first night will be spent in Kisoro or on the shores of Lake Mutanda where your guide will conduct a pre-departure meeting. 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. You will be able able to utilize the traditional dugout canoes on 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.
Day 1: Kisoro (Lake Mutanda) - Nkuringo
After breakfast depart for the southern shore of Lake Mutanda to be welcomed at Sheba's Campsite (90 minutes walking). Alternatively the first day can commence from Sheba's campsite having spent the previous night there should there be time upon your arrival in Kisoro the day before to complete the transfer to the site. It is possible to undertake this transfer from town by special hire taxi. Accommodation at Sheba's campsite is budget traveler level aimed at campers with their own equipment. There is a single double bed cabin currently available at the site and 3 furnished tents on a raised platform. The canoe trip is broken at the lodge for a coffee break and photo opportunity.
Day 2: Nkuringo Safari Lodge to Nkuringo
Should today's destination for the first day be Nkuringo Gorilla Campsite you will continue after the short break at the Lodge by canoe to the Rwajenge landing site where our walk begins in earnest with a near 900m assent ahead to our destination. For those that wish porters can be hired to carry luggage leaving you only with your daypack and camera so as to better enjoy your surroundings. The walk to the road head at Rubuguri junction to join the Kisoro road will take 3 hours a distance of 9 km. Nkuringo Gorilla Campsite is located at 2160m in altitude a further 10 km from this junction. Papyrus reeds that are harvested as roofing material for local houses and fencing dominate the Rwajenge landing site. Women's basket making groups also use the material and even children make their own footballs from this resource.
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. Here there is a primary school called Kirundo where children will most certainly be distracted by your arrival. The children's welcome is always warm with enthusiastic attempts to converse with you. On clear days exceptional views of Lake Mutanda, the Virunga Volcanoes and the rugged ridges of the western arm of Africa's Great Rift Valley are visible. Schools, churches, homesteads and the trading centre of Kasharara are also in view.
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. The finished brew is transported by young boys on the rear carriers of their bicycles in yellow 20-litre jerry cans. Produce is sold in Kisoro and further a field with copious amounts consumed on market days.
After a further 10 minutes walking you will join a little used road from Kisoro town to serve communities in this remote area. Your guide will introduce to you some common medicinal plants like acacia 'omwitanjoka' a cure if you have been poisoned. Ficus capensis can be observed which is used for treating goats suffering from diarrhea and is also a traditional symbol used to ward off evil spirits and protect shrines.
The roadside provides an excellent opportunity for pointing out many birds often seen only by the lead person when on a narrow walking trail. Grey headed fiscal shike, chubb's cisticola, cape wagtail, yellow bishops and augur buzzards are among those on the list we would expect to see. The verge of road is also home to many different plants including polycias fulva, albizia gummifera, erythrina abyssinica and maesa lanceolata.
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 travelers 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.
The night is spent at Nkuringo Gorilla Campsite for those with their own camping equipment or in the adjacent Hammerkop Bunkhouse that can accommodate 10 visitors in 5 comfortable twin bedded rooms. Facilities are simple yet comfortable at the lodge s and visitors should be prepared for this. The campsite and bunkhouse sit on top of a ridge at 2160m where the north facing view looks out onto another ridge line swathed in primary forest within the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Within the forest is the round hill known as Nkuringo from where the local gorilla group take's it's name. The south facing view looks towards the Virunga range and the active Nyiragongo volcano in the DR Congo often to be seen in clear weather. Visitors have the option to spend a second night in Nkuringo. This is magical place to take in the ambience, to relax and visit community tourism initiatives. These include a well-defined community walk.
Days 3 & 4: Nkuringo to Buhoma
We proceed through the trading center 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 km 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 Kashaha 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.
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