Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda covering 331 kilometers squared, its home to over 348 species of birds recorded, 220 species of butterflies, 120 species of mammals, 10 species of ferns, 163 species of trees and over 1000 species of flowering plants.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO, the park was established in 1991 to protect the endangered mountain gorillas. This national park harbors half of the worlds remaining mountain gorillas with the other half occupying the Virunga ranges in Volcanoes national park Rwanda and Virunga national park in Congo.
What to do in Bwindi
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest dates back to over 25,000 years ago and it survived the ice age. There are a lot of activities tourists can do while in Bwindi. See some of them below.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking
Gorilla trekking is the main activity at Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park, the park has got 15 Gorilla groups habituated for tourist purposes. There are four areas for trekking gorillas in Bwindi this include; Nkuringo sector, Buhoma sector, Ruhija sector, and Rushaga sector. The habituated gorilla families that can be visited by visitors daily are 8 the rest of the groups are still being habituated and you can join in the gorilla habituation lifetime experience.
Gorilla habituation involves tourists joining researchers with gorilla habituation process; habituation sole purpose is to train gorillas in getting used to human presence so that they can easily be trekked by tourists after a period of time.
This activity takes 4 hours unlike the usual gorilla trekking which takes only 1 hour, you can learn a lot about mountain gorillas and their behaviors though it involves an extra cost though experience is so fascinating and worth. The maximum number of persons in a group that can habituate gorillas is only 4 members.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is endowed with over 348 species of birds with 23 endemic to this area, birds in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park include; Ruwenzori night jar, Yelloweye black flycatcher, Collared Apalis, dusky crimson wing, red-faced woodland warbler, honry guide, African green broadbill, purple breasted sunbird, Archers robin chat, dwarf honey guide, Shelley’s crimson wing, strip breasted tit, Grauers rush warbler, Kivu ground thrush, francolin short-tailed warbler, regal sunbird, mountain masked Apalis, African wood owl, Montane Oriole, western green tinker bird, Doherty’s bush shrike, short-tailed warbler, Red-throated Alethe, chestnut throated Apalis and fine banded woodpecker to mention a few.
Cultural Experience with the Batwa
The Batwa community in Bwindi used to live in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park for over 500,000 years, the people of the forest used to be hunter-gatherers depending on the forest for shade, food, and medicine, they were forced to exit the forest and join the Bakiga tribe that live outside the forest.
They both have unique cultures and cultural values different from other parts of the world that can be explored as you see how the Batwa use different tree stems and roots to heal several diseases, visit the blacksmith, learn how to weave baskets and above all get entertained with local traditional dances and hymns under the African bright shining stars after a hectic gorilla trekking day.
Hiking and Nature Walks
Nature walks at Bwindi gives a visitor an insight to explore the ancient forests more, different walking and hiking trails have been set up for the activities, during the walks you will spot a lot of other primates in Bwindi apart from gorillas like; red-tailed monkeys, olive baboon, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, black and white Columbus monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys and many others not forgetting various species of birds, butterfly species and a lot of plant species. Some of the trails are the Muzabajiro loop trail, Munyaga river trail, bamboo trail, waterfall trail, and Rushura hill trail. All these trails lead to unique satisfying destinations you will love.
There is a 13-kilometer biking trail established at Bwindi that starts from Buhoma sector to the Ivi river, this trail provides opportunities of wildlife watching like bushbucks, bush pigs and primates like black and white Columbus monkeys, blue monkeys and so much more with lots of birds to be seen on the way. This roughly takes about 6-7 hours round trip.
Where to stay
While at Bwindi impenetrable forest national park tourists can choose from various accommodation ranging from budget, mid-range and luxurious, however, you should ensure that you booked a hotel near the area you booked a permit from.
Some of the lodges at Bwindi impenetrable forest national park include; Rushagga gorilla camp, Gorilla mist camp, Trackers safari lodge, Buhoma community lodge, Engagi lodge, Mahogany Springs, Sanctuary gorilla lodge, Lake Kitandara Bwindi camp, Nkuringo gorilla camp, Gorilla friends lodge, clouds mountain gorilla lodge, Ruhijja gorilla resort lodge and many others.
When to visit
Mountain gorillas in Uganda can trek all year round but the best time to visit from June to September and December to February in the peak seasons. During these months the hiking trails can easily be conquered with ease and there are no rains to disrupt during gorilla trekking, visiting in the rainy season will need tourists to come with long sleeved clothes, good hiking boots, garden gloves, energy snacks, raincoats, insect repellents and many other things you might need. For bird lovers the best time for visiting Bwindi id from November to April when migratory birds are present within the park.
Bwindi Gorilla Permits
Gorilla permits in Uganda cost $600 only per person and Gorilla habituation costs $1500 per person. During the peak season, tourists are encouraged to book gorilla permits 3 months in advance due to high demand. When booking a permit you will need to get accommodation within the area you will be trekking gorillas from.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park can be reached from Kampala within 7-8 hours by road, tourists can also fly into Bwindi from Entebbe International Airport to Kihihi airstrip in Bwindi.