Hiking/Walking Safaris

Hiking Safaris in the Kigezi Highlands

Uganda was named the pearl of the beautiful highlands and the volcanoes in Kigezi.  Because kigezi is very hilly and  hiking is very part and parcel of walking.

Outline Itinerary:-Silverback Hiking Safaris

This hiking itinerary can be conducted in either direction that being between Kisoro and Buhoma or Buhoma and Kisoro with a night spent in Bwindi –Nkuringo sector on the standard two day itinerary. The itinerary below details the route when walked/hiked Kisoro to Buhoma.

While in Kisoro  you will meet with your guide/s from Silverback Hiking Safaris all of whom are local to the region.

Your first night will be spent in Kisoro or on the shores of Lake Mutanda where you enjoy all the views of the volcano ranges and the lake.

Traditional dug out canoes will be used but with life jackets where you will visit some islands before you join the village path with the fantastic sceneries of Kisoro and Bwindi.

 Day 1 – Kisoro (Lake Mutanda) – Nkuringo

After breakfast we depart for the southern shore of Lake Mutanda where you start  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 low budget traveller level aimed at campers with their own tents and equipment. There is a single double bed cabin currently available at the site and 3 furnished tents on a raised platform.

 

The journey by traditional dugout canoe and walk from Sheba’s campsite to Silverback Gorilla Resort and it 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.

 

The journey to Nkuringo can be broken by spending a night at the wonderfully located Nkuringo Safari Lodge set in a glade of papyrus and eucalyptus forest on Lake Mutanda’s northern shore. This traditional tented safari lodge offers accommodation in an unparalleled setting. You will have opportunity to enjoy the spectacle of a sunrise and sunset with the volcanoes of Muhavura, Gahinga and Sabinyo standing like sentinels along the southern horizon. Self-camping is also possible at the lodge.

The canoe trip is broken at the lodge for a coffee break and photo opportunity.

Day1 or 2 continued – 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 Nkuringo Safari 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 feel excited 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.

While hiking 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.

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 acucia ‘omwitanjoka’ a cure if you have been poisoned. Ficus capensis can be observed which is used for treating goats suffering from diarrhoea and is also a traditional symbol used to ward off evil spirits and protect shrines.

7. 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. Silvrback Gorilla Resort is a further 10km distant and 2 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.

The night is spent at Silverback Gorilla Resort for those with their own camping equipment or in the rooms that can accommodate 24 visitors in 8 comfortable twin bedded rooms. Facilities are simple yet comfortable at Silverback Gorilla Resort and visitors should be prepared for this.

Visitors have the option to spend a second night in Silverback Gorilla Resort in Bwindi-Nkuringo. This is on a 20 piece of land with specular views of Bwindi Forest suitable for relaxing, visiting water falls, Bird watching, visiting the Batwa  and visit community tourism initiatives.

Day 3 or 4 – Nkuringo to Buhoma

After break fast we head to Nkuringp Park Office for park entrance fees and nature walk to Buhoma 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 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.

Virunga Day Hikes:

Silverback Hiking Safaris arranges day hikes to the peaks of the Virunga Volcanoes along the border of Uganda with Rwanda and Congo. These include Mt. Muhavura, Mt. Gahinga and Mt. Sabinyo.

You can consider doing a Virunga day hike to your hiking safari before departing for Nkuringo or Buhoma.

Hiking  the Virunga Volcanoes is done through Mgahinga Gorilla National Park  and it is quite intresting because you see the fantastic sceneries of Uganda,Rwanda and Congo. In fact if you are on top of Mt.Sabyinyo you will be on top of 3 countries with one Visa(Uganda,Rwanda&Congo). Hiking itineraries to this location will normally be part of a larger itinerary that probably includes the Bwind Impenetrable Forest National Park. All  after all of these day hikes here you return to the lodge, guest house or campsite after each days activity. All Hikes are led by a National Parks Ranger and one of our Silverback Hiking Safaris guides.

Mt. Sabinyo is at altitude of 3600m and the scenery of  Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.   If you are lucky you will see Bushbuck and the Golden Monkeys along the way on your hiking. Sabinyo with it’s five jagged peaks is the oldest of the volcanoes here and it has two distinct vegetation zones Forest and Alpine which has some very steep inclines aided by the assistance of eucalyptus ladders to reach the goal of Sabinyo peak. At the  summit can enjoy volcanic chain of mountains into Rwanda that includes Mt. Karisimbi, Mt. Mikeno and the often snow covered Mt. Visoke.  The hike is 6-8 hours round trip

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. You enjoy walking through a bamboo forest and there are many bird species that will be observed.  This hike is 4 -6 hours round trip

Mount Muhabura, also known as Mount Muhavura, is an extinct volcano in the Virunga Mountains on the border between Rwanda and Uganda. At 4,127 m, Muhabura is the third highest of the eight major mountains of the mountain range, which is a part of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift. Muhabura lies partly in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda and partly in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda. The mountain can be climbed in one day from the Ugandan side.

The name Muhabura means The Guide in the local language, Kinyarwanda, which probably derives from a historical use of the mountain to aid navigation.  It can be seen from many parts of Uganda and Rwanda because of its slope.

Tour Options and Pricing through 2012

The prices below are to give  a general idea of anticipated costs for a basic itinerary. But depending on the client’s needs, budget and time available, we can redesign for you an itnery to suit your program trip

Price per person based on accommodation sharing at Silverback Gorilla Resort – 2 day itinerary.

I person –USD 195

2 Persons – USD 274

3 Persons – USD 394

4 Persons – USD 483

5 Persons –  USD 618

6 Persons – USD 692

 

The package includes:

  • Guide fee (2 days)
  • 1 nights accommodation based on twin bedded room
  • Dugout canoe excursion Lake Mutanda
  • 1 porter per person (3 sectors)
  • Meals*

* Please note that accommodation at Silverback Gorilla Resort is on a full board arrangement and is based on 2 persons sharing in a room, 4 persons sharing in 2 rooms and 6 persons in 3 rooms. Odd number groups will occupy an additional room on single occupancy basis.

Extra night for any relax day at Silverback Gorilla Resort is  USD130- FB twin/double occupancy, USD90- FB single occupancy.

Optional extras

TRANSPORT HIRE

The payments for special hire services if required will be paid for directly between yourself and the vehicle owner providing the transfer service.

Rates could vary due to increases in the local fuel price.

Not included

  • National Park Fees (see tariff below)
  • Local activities in Nkuringo (community walk)
  • Snack/lunch box on day 1 of walk which should be obtained from the previous nights accommodation
  • Drinks
  • Any items of a personal nature

NATIONAL PARK FEES

You will be required to pay park fees and escort fees directly to the National Parks office in either Buhoma or Nkuringo.

  • Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park Fees valid from July 1st 2011 through June 30th 2013:

Park entrance US$35- per person

Nature Walk fee Bwindi Impenetrable Forest: US$15- per person.


VIRUNGA DAY HIKES

Our Silverback Hiking Safaris Guide fee for one day Hikes on the Virunga is US$30- per day per group. The National Parks charge an activity fee as outlined below.

  • Volcano climbing fee US$60- per person which includes the National Park entrance fee – valid from July 1st 2011 through June 30th 2013

ACCOMMODATION

Payments for accommodations in Buhoma, Rushaga (Nshongi Camp), Lake Mutanda Eco camp and Kisoro (Countryisde Guest house) you will settle directly with the hotelier, guest house, or campsite as are not included in the Silverback Hiking Safaris fee.

All accommodation rates at the above venues include breakfast unless otherwise stated.

Accommodation

When participating on an Silverback Hiking Safari the minimum number of days on trip would be two days with one nights accommodation spent either side of the activity in either Kisoro or Buhoma depending on the direction of the walk. One night is always spent en-route at Silverback Gorilla resort  either in the self contained rooms, none self contained rooms, self camping depending on your budget.

The list of accommodation venues below provides a brief description of each with prices as a guide on a bed and breakfast basis only.

Getting there and Away

Transport to and from Kisoro.

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 Ushs25,000- 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 and Kampala.

We are able to arrange special hire transfers from Kabale or  Kisoro to our site at Bwindi for visitors by prior request only.   We also provide special hire services from Kbale to Bwindi( Nkuringo,Rushaga,Buhoma anmd Ruhija).

Gateway public bus departs Kampala by 06.00am for Butogota. The service departs Butogota daily at 06.00am to Kampala via Ntumgarmo. The journey time is about 11 hours and fare per person Ushs25,000-.

There are two faster buses from Kampala operated by Savannah and Perfect Coach that travel to the town of Kihihi some 40km 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 Ushs60,000- 70,000 dpending on how you bargain. You would expect be in Buhoma some hours before arriving on the direct Butogota bus where you would still require a private hire transfer to complete the final 15kms to Buhoma from Butogota at a cost of Ushs30,000-.

For those continuing their journey north to Kasese or Fort Portal many participants proceed directly to Kihihi the same day as completing the hiking safari to Buhoma. Budget accommodation is available in Kihihi as there are also night buses to Kampala.

Expanded itineraries

Silverback Gorilla Safaris all organizes other tours around Uganda,Rwanda and congo from 1 day to 25 days a combined tour of the best of  Uganda,Rwanda and Tanzania. It also can also secure for you a gorilla tracking permit.  In case you want more information don’t hesitate to contact us on info@sbgorillasafaris.com