Bwindi Impenetrable national park
Bwindi impenetrable national park in southwestern Uganda is among one of the most popular tourism destinations in Uganda. The national park is visited by thousands of tourists annually, in a bid to see some of the park’s most precious jewels, which are its endangered mountain gorillas.
The national park is part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and is located on the edge of the Albertine Rift. The forest is known to be rich in bio-diversity of flora and fauna species, and is situated along Uganda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park in Uganda spans over an area of 321 square kilometers and is elevated at an altitude between 1,160 to 2,607 meters above sea level. The park established in 1991 and later declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
This national park is known to shelter over 400 mountain gorillas, roughly half of the world’s population. A great majority of the park’s mountain gorillas have been habituated and can be tracked by visitors throughout the year. The national park is managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority, a government parastatal that oversees the management of all the national parks in Uganda, including about 12 wildlife reserves.
Bwindi national park is home to about 400 plant species, and over 350 species of birds, including 23 bird species which are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley area. It is also the source of five major rivers which flow into Lake Edward, and also comprises a series of steep ridges and valleys.
The national park has 15 habituated gorilla groups for tourism, and three that are strictly meant for research purposes. Apart from its mountain gorillas, the park has got other interesting attractions such as; wildlife animals, birds and unique cultures like the Batwa, who are well known hunter-gathers with ancient attachments to the forest.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park receives tropical climate with annual average temperatures ranging between 7°C to 20°C. The park experiences its coldest months between June and July. Given the fact that the national park is situated with a rainforest, it receives up to 2,390 mm of rain annually.
Activities Done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Trekking mountain gorillas:
Bwindi national park in Uganda is home to an estimated 400 mountain gorillas. These endangered primate species are a subspecies of the eastern gorilla species, and are the highlight of most visits to the park. Bwindi has fifteen habituated gorilla groups that visitors can trek on a visit to the park. Gorilla trekking activities in Bwindi start from Buhoma visitor center and usually last about 8 hours, including one hour spent with the gorillas once they have been located. The habituated gorilla groups can be tracked from four trailheads in the park and these include; Buhoma sector that has three habituated gorilla groups, the Ruhija sector that has four gorilla groups, the Nkuringo sector which has four gorilla groups, and finally the Rushaga sector that has four habituated gorilla groups. The national park provides eight trekking permits for each of the gorilla groups, thus issuing a daily maximum of 120 permits. Registration for visitors trekking gorillas begins at 7:30am every morning, which is followed by a briefing at exactly 8am. Tracking gorillas eventually begins at exactly 8:30am, after visitors have be allocated to their respective trekking groups. Visitors tracking mountain gorillas in the park are advised to book their gorilla trekking permits at least 6 months in advance.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park offers visitors excellent bird watching opportunities. All four trailheads in the national park are perfect birding spots, with the River Ivi Trail between Buhoma and Nkuringo being the most recommended trailhead for visitors on birding expeditions. Other trails include; Ruhija’s Bamboo Trail, Munyaga River trail, and Mubwindi Swamp trail.
Although gorilla trekking is the main attraction in Bwindi, other activities are offered in the national park like guided nature walks. Nature walks provide visitors with an opportunity to explore Bwindi impenetrable forest, which is one of the loveliest rainforests in Uganda. Nature walks in the national park take place every morning at 9am and 2pm in the afternoon. There are walking trails which offer visitors in the park great sites, and these include;
Munyaga River Trail: this trail is located below the Buhoma trailhead and provides visitors with a short walk to view birds and primates living within the forest.
The Waterfall Trail: This trail leads visitors through one of Uganda’s most pristine tracts of rainforest, passing beneath tree ferns and orchids, and leading to three beautiful sparkling crystal clear waterfalls.
Rushura Hill Trail: This trail provides unique views across the plains of the Albertine Rift Valley, and Lakes Edward and Rwenzori on clear days.
Muzabajiro Loop Trail: This trail climbs to the summit of Rukubira Hill giving visitors breathtaking views of Bwindi forest, the Albertine Rift Valley and Virunga Volcanoes.
Other trailheads such as River Ivi trail are also used by visitors taking nature walks in the forest.
Community walks in Bwindi offers visitors a chance to interact with local communities living near the national park and learn about their rich cultural heritage. The Buniga Forest Walk at Nkuringo can be done after trekking gorillas in that sector. This community walk is conducted by Batwa guides who demonstrate their vast knowledge of the forest.
Accommodation in the Park.
Visitors looking to spend a night or more in the park can find accommodation in facilities such as; Silverback Lodge, Gorilla Safari Lodge in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi, Gorilla Resort, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Buhoma Lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Camp, Ruhija Gorilla Mist Camp, and Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge among others. These lodges carter for luxury, mid-range and budget visitors. Visitors can also choose to stay in hotels in Kisoro town or any lodge at Lake Mutanda.
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Visitors can access the national park either by road or air. The park is located about 460kms from Kampala. This is convenient for visitors driving to Buhoma which are the park’s headquarters. The national park can also be accessed from Mweya in Queen Elizabeth National Park, which is approximately 160kms from Bwindi.
Alternatively, visitors who don’t wish to embark on the long road trip can choose to fly to Bwindi. Travelers can fly from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to Kisoro airstrip, for visitors trekking gorillas in Nkuringo, Rushaga and Ruhija sectors. Visitors travelling to Buhoma sector in Bwindi can fly to Savanna or Ishasha airstrips.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park is the ideal destination for all gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda. The rich cultural heritage of the different ethnic tribes living near the national park give visitors a great opportunity to interact with the friendly Batwa (Pygmies)and Bakiga people.
Book with us a gorilla trekking tour in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and get to explore this lovely national park in style and comfort.