Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a large primate home forest located in South-western Uganda in Kanungu District. The Bwindi forest is on the edge of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift, at elevations ranging from 1,160 to 2,607 metres (3,806 to 8,553 ft). Bwindi Impenetrable Forest was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994 for its exceptional biodiversity of around 160 species of plants and over 100 species of vascular plants. The name Bwindi is derived from the Runyakitara word Mubwindi and means “a place full of darkness”and taking a hike this magnificent forest will certainly unveil to you the reason why the forest was named so.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is most notable for the 400 Bwindi gorillas,53.9% half of the world’s population of the endangered mountain gorillas. 14 habituated mountain gorilla groups that’s to say Rushegura, Habinyanja, Mubare, Nkuringo, Bitukura, Oruzogo, Mishaya, Nshongi, Kahungye, and recently the new groups called Busingye and Bweza are open to tourism in four different sectors of Buhoma, Ruhijja, Rushaga and the Nkuringo in the Districts of Kanungu, Kabale and Kisoro respectively all under the management of Uganda Wildlife Authority.
The park covers an area of 321 km2 all of which is forested with some areas being covered by bamboo and shrubs. The forest lies on steep slippery valleys with ridges and hilltops.
The weather in Bwindi is chilly because of the immerse canopy, you are advised to carry some warm clothing for evenings and long sleeved shirts/trousers for trekking. For the ultimate experience to anyone who chooses to trek the mountain gorillas or search for birds, butterflies or shrubs, you need to be in good physical condition to go up and down the terrain. It lies at an altitude between 1160m-2607m above sea level.
Gorilla families and groups in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park.
a gorilla group in Bwindi Impenetrable forest is divided into different trail heads where Gorilla trekking tours happens. The gorillas habituated for tourism are in families based at different trailheads. When you choose to visit Bwindi, be sure to know which trailhead you are allocated before you book your hotel. After knowing your allocated trailhead then you can book the hotel in that location. Currently 20 gorilla families are habituated for tourism. The trail heads include; Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo.
Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi National Park.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a home to half of the world’s remaining Mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking is done daily after purchasing a gorilla-tracking permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority by your Tour Operator at the charge of $700 for Nonresident clients . You are advised to book your permit at least 3 months prior to secure your day especially if you prefer a certain location. Only 8 individuals from 15 years of age are permitted to visit a gorilla family per day. You need to be in good health condition otherwise you will not trek because humans and Gorillas can easily pass diseases to each other. You will be briefed by your guide way before trekking and advices to stay at least 8m from the gorillas, do not use flash photography and do not look directly in the eyes of the gorilla for an extended period of time. You need to wear long sleeved pants and shirts to avoid scratches as you trek through the forest, carry a rain poncho, seasoned boots, lots of water, lunch (sometimes it takes an entire day to locate them) and finally consider hiring a potter because the terrain can be difficult.
Birding in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is home to about 350 species of birds. It is by the best sight place for birding in Uganda owing to its richly and unique species of birds. The forest is home to 23 Albertine Rift endemics and 14 of which are found nowhere else in Uganda. The globally threatened species include, Grauer’s broadbill, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Shelley’s Crimson-wing. More species include; Handsome Francolin, Mountain-masked and Collared Apalis, White-bellied Robin Chat, Black billed Turaco, Fraser’s Eagle, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Purple-breasted, Blue-headed and Regal Sunbirds among others.
Birding in Bwindi happens mainly in the Mubwindi Swamp in Ruhija sector of the park, ‘The Neck’ a stretch of the forest joining Ruhija to the Buhoma sector and the Buhoma area especially on the waterfall trail.
Bird watching in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Bwindi forest is one of the best Uganda birding sights and was named as Africa’s number one birding sights by Africa Bird Club. If you have limited time in Uganda and you must choose only one park for birding then, Bwindi should be your choice. It is best and easily accessible for birding with birding trails in the forest leading to different area including the waterfall trail. It is home to about 350 species of birds which include 23 Albertine Rift endemics and 14 of which are recorded nowhere else in Uganda. There are excellent site guides in the communities who are very knowledgeable about the birds in the area especially the endemics. These join you as you take your trip into the forest re-enforcing the team you will have started with on your trip.
Wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park
The parks is home to about 120 mammals’ species that are rarely sighted as they hide in the thickets of the Impenetrable forest. These include the large mammals and the very small mammals. The animals of Bwindi forest include; Elephants, duikers, buffaloes, golden cats, bush pigs, giant forest hogs, black-fronted Duiker, yellow-backed duiker, clawless otter, side-striped jackal, civet, numerous bats and rodents etc.
Bwindi forest is home to 11 primate species which are; black-and-white colobus monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, De Brazza monkeys, Red-tailed Monkey, Blue Monkey, Potto, Demidoff’sGalago, Spectacled Galago, Baboons, Chimpanzee and the gentle giants of Bwindi – Mountain Gorillas.
Community walks and Cultural experiences in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park.
The community surrounding Bwindi forest is full with activities and cultural experiences for you. You can choose to take on the Batwa experience – a people that lived in the forest for many years. Here you will re-visit the forest with them and experience how they lived in the forest, how they co-existed with the gorillas and the other animals for years. The different walks include Buniga Forest nature walk in Nkuringo – a forest reserve adjacent to Bwindi impenetravle national park. Nyundo community Eco trails and King Bakyara’s waterfall trail. Tour the village Aquaponics project with Conservation through Public Health (CTPH). Buhoma community tours – areas of interest, handcraft shops, Batwa community, traditional healer, primary school and finally learn how bananas are used to make juice, beer and gin and taste.
Road and Flight access to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
On road: From Kampala, the route depends on the destinations you are visiting i.e.Kampala – Ntungamo – Rukungiri – Kihihi – Buhoma/Nyondo OR Kampala – Kabale – Ruhija
On flight There are scheduled/ charter flights from Entebbe International Airport to Kihihi town connecting to Buhoma area or to Kisoro Airstrip, which connects to Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga. There are also flights from Kajjansi Airfield, which lies between Kampala and Entebbe.