Kigezi Region is perhaps the most fertile and scenic region of Uganda: a landscape of expansive blue lakes and steep terraced slopes tumbling southwest towards the rainforests of Bwindi National Park and the magnificent isolated peaks of the Virunga volcanoes. But for most visitors, whatever scenic qualities are attached to this hilly southwestern corner of Uganda will be secondary to the region ones landing attraction, which is the opportunity trade the endangered mountain gorilla in its natural habitat – arguably the most exciting wildlife encounter to be had anywhere in Africa.
The gorilla population in Uganda has grown to over 1004 wild mountain gorillas (as of May 2018) restricted to and divided between, the dense montane forest of Bwindi and the bamboo-canopied slopes of the Mgahinga, But, typical of the whimsical attitude a the carve-up of Africa in 1880, the Virungas were divided across three separate colonial territories so that the mountain gorillas today are harbored within four independently managed national parks in three different countries. These are the Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla national parks in Uganda, and contiguous to the latter – the Parc National des Volans in Rwanda and Parc National des Virunga in the Congo.
The most reliable locations in which to track gorillas are Uganda’s & Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, where 11 habituated groups now exist, and Rwanda Parc National Volans. Tracking a Mgahinga is only sporadically possible since the park’s habituated group took to wandering over the volcanic watershed into neighboring Rwanda for weeks at a time. Tracking opportunities in the MG are even rarer, owing to perennial insecurity a the east of this troubled country. Mountain gorilla tracking is inevitably the most popular tourist activity in Kigezi, but the area does have much else to offer the slopes of Gahhiga harbor a rich faunal diversity, and it is possible to organize guided forest walks as well as day hikes to the three volcanic peaks within the reserve.
Bwindi too offers some excellent day-walking possibilities, and it has possibly the richest faunal diversity of any forest in East Africa, including two dozen bird species endemic to the Albertine National parks aside, the lovely, island-strewn Lake Bunyonyi has supplanted the Ssese Islands as Uganda’s most popular waterside chill-out venue, this a host of more obscure lakes and waterfalls form rewarding goals for more adventurous travelers.
The largest town in Kigezi Highlands, and the main gateway to the region, is Kabale. which lies 430 km from Kampala city and 117 km from Mbarara city. The other important local urban center in Kisoro, strategically situated at the base of the Virungas close to the borders with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic Congo (DRC) considerably smaller, but of potential significance to travelers moving between, Queen Elisabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is Kihihi town the northern gateway to Kigezi.