Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Dating about 25,000 years back, Bwindi impenetrable forest is one of Africa’s last standing ancient rainforests characterized with a nature of how the world once looked like. It is one of the very few places in the world where you can go gorilla trekking to see the endangered mountain gorillas face to face. The pristine afro-montane lowland forest has thick tropical vegetation just like its name goes, but you will surely trek through with guidance of a ranger guide. Regardless of its dense greenery undergrowth vegetation, there are many accessible locations of the forest by hiking through the designated trails.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park boasts a rich biological diversity of flora and fauna with mountain gorillas being the highlight wildlife. The park is home to more than half of the world’s remaining population of mountain gorillas along with hundreds of bird species, butterflies and other mammals among others. With its outstanding biological richness, the park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park has a cool climatic condition unique from the rest of the country’s. It normally has chilly weather especially in the morning and evening, a reason why you should pack some warm clothes for your gorilla safari.
Location of Bwindi Impenetrable national park
Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park is located in Kanungu district in the far southwestern part of Uganda at the edge of the Albertine Rift, the western arm of the East African rift valley. It covers an area of about 321 square kilometers on an altitude ranging from 1,160m-2,607m above sea level.
Gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable national park
Currently, there are over 20 habituated gorilla families in Bwindi and they are open for tourism all year round. These families are known to be commonly found in specific sectors of Bwindi where gorilla trekking takes place. They include; Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors.
While searching for the mountain gorillas, there is a chance to encounter other primates such as chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, L’hoest monkeys, red tailed monkeys and a variety of bird species like the Handsome Francolin, Dusky Crimson wing, Rwenzori Batis, Grauer’s Warbler and more.
Climate of Bwindi Impenetrable national park
Bwindi Forest experiences a tropical climate associated with annual temperature range of 7 to 15 degrees centigrade. There are two climatic seasons that occur yearly in the park; the dry and wet season. The wet season is experienced in the months of March, April, May and September, October and full end of November. Whilst the dry season comes in the months of December, January and February and June, July and August. Bwindi forest influences the climate changes of the surrounding areas.
Attractions in Bwindi Impenetrable national park
- The Endangered Mountain Gorillas
- Other wildlife – chimps and other mammals
- The Batwa pygmies and their culture
Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable national park
Since the star attraction in Bwindi are the rare mountain gorillas, the highlight for travel to the park is gorilla trekking. The apes go through the Gorilla habituation experience for them to be available for tourism. Gorilla trekking is done daily in the four trekking sectors of the park and visitors are advised to have their gorilla permit when going for the activity. It is advisable to secure your permit at least 3 months prior to your travel date.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi starts in the morning at around 7:30am with a briefing at the park headquarters or starting point about the do’s and don’ts during the trek. The park ranger leads a group of maximum of 8 people through the jungle for the thrilling adventure. He guides you to the location where the allocated gorilla group is expected to be roaming. As you prepare for your gorilla safari, be aware that it requires some minimum level of fitness. In addition, the duration of the trek depends on how far the gorillas have moved, and it can last for 1-3 hours, 6 hours or even more. The trek takes longer hours if the family of gorillas being trekked has moved to farer areas since they spend most of the day time on the search for food. Upon spotting the gorillas, you are allowed to stay with them for a maximum of one hour to observe, learn about their behavior and take pictures. You have a chance to watch them feeding, taking care of the young ones, resting or probably enjoying their playtime in the forest. It is incredible how the giants look like, behave and carry on their day-to-day life.
A gorilla trekking permit in Uganda (to trek in Bwindi forest) costs US$700 for foreign nonresidents, US$600 for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for East African citizens. Only people above 15 years are allowed to go trekking.
Gorilla habituation experience
There is no actual definition of Gorilla habituation but can be described as the process through which wild mountain gorillas are trained to find people familiar. This process can take 2-3 years. In Uganda, primate lovers interested in getting an insight of what happens during this preparation are advised to go for the gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi. Unlike gorilla trekking which only allows visitors to stay with the giants for only an hour, you have more time (4 hours) to be in the presence of these incredible creatures along with researchers. The experience starts early morning so that you get a chance to see much of what the gorillas do throughout the day right from getting up, leaving their nests, start searching for food, take care of their young ones and more.
Although Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park is mostly known for gorilla trekking, it is also an incredible spot for bird watching. The forest is listed among the best birding destinations in Uganda and the continent at large. Africa Bird Club named it as a number one bird watching spot. Bwindi is home to about 350 bird species including 23 endemics for example the Blue-headed sunbird and the Short-tailed warbler. Common bird species around the Bwindi forest include the African Blue and White-tailed Blue Flycatchers, African Emerald Cuckoo, Common Bulbul and Red headed Bluebill.
Other species are Dwarf Honey guide, Grauer’s Warbler, Handsome Francolin, Short-tailed Warbler, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Collared Apalis, Mountain Masked Apalis, Dusky Crimson wing, Regal Sunbird, Shelley’s Crimson wing among others.
Hiking/ Nature Walks
The park has several trails around the forest through which you have another chance to explore Bwindi impenetrable forest. With an armed ranger guide who protects and guides you through the forest, you get to the natural wonders in the area such as the beautiful waterfalls and watch the scenic surrounding. The walks and hikes also include primate encounters and of course you just can’t miss spotting the various bird species of the forest. Apart from chimpanzees, other primates that are likely to be seen are the black and white colobus monkey, L’Hoest’s monkey, red tailed monkeys and on a lucky day you could spot a chimpanzee.
The best and most popular location for hiking in Bwindi forest is Buhoma sector with about six main hiking trails; Muyanga waterfall trail, Muzubijiro Loop Trail, Rushura Hill Walk, Buhoma-Nkuringo Trail, Habinyanja Trail and Ivi River Walk.
On your gorilla tour to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, you can get a chance to enjoy learn more about the interesting cultures of the Batwa and Bakiga. Explore their black smith art works, craft shops as well as enjoy the traditional songs and dances.
Mountain Biking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park is done in a 13km trail that starts from the park headquarters to the Ivi River. It is organized by a project of women known as “Ride 4 a Woman organization”. Biking gets adventurers through a number of points where they can get breathtaking views of the mountainous Kigezi region where the park is located. It also gives a chance to come across some wildlife like primates or other mammals like forest hogs and bushbucks.
Accommodations in Bwindi Impenetrable national park
Bwindi impenetrable national park is one of Uganda’s most visited national parks throughout the year. There is a wide range of safari lodges to cater for tourist accommodation facilities on a gorilla tour. They range from budget lodges, mid-range to luxury accommodations. Be reminded that Bwindi is divided into four sectors and all these each has several safari lodges conveniently located in areas that will favor your trekking tour. We therefore recommend that you book an accommodation basing on the sector you are going to trek.
Here are some of the accommodations based on the different sectors of the park;
Rushaga is located in the southern part of Bwindi. It is one of the most interesting gorilla trekking regions with an impressive number of gorilla families and a scenic terrain of the surrounding including the park. lodges in Rushaga include; Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Haven, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Gorilla Valley Lodge and Bwindi Jungle lodge among others.
The sector is located in the southern part of the park. It is home to 3 habituated gorilla families. It features accommodation facilities like; Nkuringo Bwindi gorilla Lodge, Nkuringo Safari Lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla camps, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge among others.
This is the best gorilla trekking sector with the first habituated gorilla families in Uganda. The sector features a wide range of accommodation such as; Buhoma community Rest Camp, Buhoma Haven Lodge, Mahogany springs lodge, Bwindi Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest lodge and many others.
Ruhija sector is situated in the Eastern Region of Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park. The regions also have 3 habituated gorilla families that are open for gorilla tourism. Accommodation lodges in Bwindi include; Trekkers Tavern Lodge Ruhija, Gorilla Mist Camp, Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge and Bakiga Lodge among others.
Accessing Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The gorilla national park lies in the far southwestern Uganda in Kanungu though the nearest big town is Kabale. The park is located about 540km from Kampala by road.
Bwindi impenetrable national park can be reached by road and air transport.
By road, the transfer from Kampala using a 4X4 vehicle takes 7-10 hours depending on the sector you will trek gorillas. It can also be accessed form Queen Elizabeth national park via Ishasha which takes 4-5 hours. From Kibale national park, the drive takes 7-8 hours.
Bwindi is situated about an hours drive from Mgahinga national park and therefore you can do a double gorilla trekking tour in the two national parks.
By air, there are charter and scheduled flights from Entebbe international airport and Kajjansi to airstrips and airfields near the park including Kisoro Airstrip, Kayonza airstrip and Kihihi airstrip. Flights also offer the aerial stunning views of the Pearl of Africa.
The strategic location of Bwindi Impenetrable national park in the western circuit of Uganda parks calls for inclusion of one or more other destinations into the safari, they include Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Mgahinga National Park, Kibale National Park, Semuliki National Park and Rwenzori Mountains National Park.
Want to visit Bwindi impenetrable national park for gorilla trekking this season? Contact us for a tailor-made package and explore Uganda with professional experienced local safari guides.