Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp

Once-in-a-lifetime encounters with Uganda’s endangered gorillas await when you stay in one of these eight private luxury tents in the heart of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Ecologically respectful, contemporary-yet-classic in style, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp blends in sensitively with the dramatic African mountain landscape and, situated uniquely inside the national park, you are only minutes away from the start of your gorilla trekking adventure.

Located in one of the remotest areas of Africa, these comfortable canvas spaces are dressed with indigenous prints and furniture made from natural materials. Beds are draped in neutral-toned linens, and local artefacts set a scene that ensures memorable moments both inside and out the accommodation. Each tent has a spacious, stone-walled bathroom with private sections, and a free-standing bath for a relaxing soak after a day’s trekking. The trees around the camp light up in the morning when the sun starts shining, and thanks to there being so few tents, the camp retains an intimate, exclusive feel, enabling you to experience Africa’s magic with the lightest of footprints yet with practically every mod con.

Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp’s communal area stars a comfortable lounge with a well-stocked bar and elegant dining area, bestowing great views over the verdant rainforest. Come dusk, under star-strewn skies, and accompanied by the night-chorus, guests gather around the central campfire and swap stories of that day’s adventures. Mealtimes lend a taste of the destination: expertly prepared dishes promise simple flavours and showcase fresh local ingredients — try traditional smoked beef in peanut sauce served with Kalo (millet bread). Candlelit alfresco dining is also available on your tent’s private deck.

Gorilla Trekking
The gorillas are completely wild but have become used to seeing a few humans after years of habituation. Many of the expert guides have been involved in this process since the beginning and are able to explain the complicated etiquette involved in meeting a giant silverback. This is an opportunity afforded only to a select few, as just eight visitors are allowed to view each group every day. Tracking through dense forest with steep slopes means that participants do need to be physically fit to enjoy the track. Once the gorillas are located, spend a maximum of one hour with them before returning back to camp. Please note only children aged 15 and above can track gorilla. 

A tracking permit must be bought in advance in person in Bwindi.

Batwa Tribe Experience
Learn about and interact with the local Batwa People. This full day activity involves a three hour walk followed by about an hour spent with the Batwa. The walk back to camp is two hours. The visit includes a music performance, visitation by the goddess, hunting and gathering demonstration and an opportunity to see how they live. The Twa tribe who are also known as the Batwa are the oldest inhabitants of the Great Lakes region of Central Africa. They speak the same language as the Hutu and Tutsi groups of Rwanda. Like most of the tribes in Africa, they have moved from place to place and are now found in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and eastern portions of the DRC. Statistics show that by the year 2000 their numbers were approximately 80,000 people, making them a significant minority group in these countries. The first records of the Batwa were made by the Egyptians over 4,000 years ago. They described them as short statured people living near the "Mountains of the Moon" extolling their abilities as dancers and story tellers.

Community Walk
Bwindi is surrounded on the Buhoma side by the Bakiga community and the Batwa people community. The walk takes about two hours and begins with a stroll through a small tea farming project. Here you can stop to meet the tea pickers and perhaps even learn how to pluck tea leaves along the way. Then visit a local beer brewery and see how they mash bananas to make a fermented brew which is mixed and distilled to make banana beer - a popular local drink in the area. From here walk a short distance to the local hospital which Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp supports through various projects. Learn about how it started and the work they do for the community. Continue your walk to a nearby village and visit a traditional medicine man. The knowledge of using herbs for healing has been passed on from generation to generation and he will show you some of the herbs that grow in the forest and talk about how they are used. Later, relax and enjoy a performance by the Batwa community before returning to the camp.

Birding Walk
Bwindi boasts over 350 bird species, including 24 that are endemic to these highlands straddling Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo - the so-called the "Albertine Rift Endemics". For keen birders, we can arrange for a local expert to guide you on a fascinating 2-3 hour walk through the park.

Forest Walk
Bwindi is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a spectacular place to visit. In addition to the gorillas, Bwindi is also home to rare forest elephants, giant forest hogs and eleven kinds of primates, such as red tailed and blue monkeys, black and white colobus, baboons and chimpanzees. You can also find forest duiker antelopes, bush buck antelopes and over 200 species of butterflies. We can offer a guided forest walk on the Munyaga waterfall trail. This trail starts from the Park office and ends at the magnificent Munyaga waterfall. The walk to and from the waterfall takes about three hours and is a good way to practice or cool down a day before or after the gorilla tracking.

Queen Elizabeth National Park Drives
While staying at Gorilla Forest Camp guests are able to venture out on game drives to Ishasha, located in the south of the well known Queen Elizabeth National Park popular for its tree climbing lions, savanna elephants, buffaloes, topi, hippos, various bird species, warthogs and the occational leopard.

The Ishasha Sector is famous for its population of tree-climbing lions. The Lions are normally seen lazily lying within the branches of the huge fig trees staring down at the numerous Uganda Kobs grazing in the open Ishasha plains. This is usually a full day outing where guests are able to stop for lunch at the hippo pool. Departure is 6:30 in the morning.

Spa
The mini spa at Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp offers the perfect way to end a long day of gorilla trekking. The spa seems a natural enhancement of the gorilla experience and a chance for your mind to fully absorb the magnitude of your wonderful spiritual encounter; allowing your body and mind to blend with the natural surroundings, whilst recalling those magical moments in the Bwindi Impenetrable forest.

Accommodations & Facilities
The eight tents at Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp are stylish and spacious – exactly what is needed after a day spent tracking gorillas. Each tent features two queen sized beds and an ensuite bathroom with a large bathtub that looks straight into the jungle canopy as well as an indoor shower. The rooms are also equipped with a hairdryer. Every tent has a personal attendant to attend to guests’ every need.

In the main area, guests can sit around the cosy campfire at night and enjoy Bwindi’s crystal clear mountain sky. There is a small gift shop at the camp offering a variety of local artefacts and practical supplies and a mini spa with a variety of treatments, offering the perfect way to end a day of tracking.

Complimentary Wi-Fi is available in the main areas of the camp. Electricity supply is a combination of silent packed generator and battery system.

Children
We welcome all children of all ages at Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp. Children aged 15 and younger are required to share with an adult. All eight rooms can convert to triples. Babysitting is available upon request (not a registered child minder) and is charged at a nominal fee which is paid to the child minder. The minimum age for gorilla trekking is 15 years. Children aged 5-11 may go on these game drives, at the discretion of the Camp Manager. 

Climate
The majority of the country has a tropical climate which varies according to altitude. The hottest months are from December to February when the temperature reaches 29 degrees Celsius. Rainy seasons are from April to May and October to November, with the wettest month being April. The best times to visit are December to March and June to September. It can get very cool at night. The year-round weather stays within this range.

Location & Getting There
Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp is nestled deep inside Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Kihihi airstrip is the closest airstrip which is 1 hour and 15 minutes from the camp. The camp can also be reached by vehicle from Kampala; and there is also the option of a scenic road transfer from Kigali, Rwanda. Flying time: • Scheduled flight from Entebbe to Kihihi airstrip – 1hr 45mins Road transfer: • Kampala to Bwindi – 10 hours • Kigali (Rwanda) to Bwindi – 8 hours (weather dependent) A maximum of 15 kg / 33lbs of luggage per person in soft-sided bags is allowed.


 

Bwindi Community Hospital
Founded in 2003 by U.S. missionaries as a weekly clinic under a tree, Bwindi Community Hospital (BCH), located on the edge of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, now provides healthcare to the 100,000 locals in the area. With 112 beds for patients and a healthcare outreach programme, the hospital provides clinics and care for a wide range of conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, dental treatments, HIV and malaria. Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp is working with Bwindi Community Hospital on an on-going basis to continue to develop its resources and offer further support to the community, especially in vital areas of children’s health services, maternity care and delivery, as well as an innovative insurance scheme.

In addition, new initiatives that are being introduced thanks to the support of Sanctuary Retreats and our guests include:

  • A nursing school to train nursing students for the longevity of the hospital
  • A new adult ward with room for 60 patients
  • Provision of two new ambulances 

Victory School 
Victory Nursery and Primary School is located in the South Western region of Uganda in Kanungu district, right on the peripherals of the famous Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The community nursery and primary school was solely founded by Mr. Victor Bahati. Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp and its guests are working with the Victory School on an on-going basis to continue to develop its resource and class rooms and improve the quality of education for these children.

For more information on Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp click HERE

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