Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a famous safari destination in Uganda famously known for the endangered mountain gorillas nesting at high altitudes in the thick forests dominating the park. Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in south western part of Uganda, the park is a UNSECO World Heritage site declared in 1994 because of its rich diversity of flora and fauna including the world’s half population of Mountain gorillas hosted in the park.
Bwindi impenetrable national park covering an area of 321 square kilometers is a true Africa jungle with a thick forest cover offering travelers a feeling of being in a paradise with no pollution just wilderness, the park lies on steep slippery valleys with ridges and hilltops and is dominated by bamboo and shrubs.
Because of the thick forest cover/ canopy and the altitude of the park that is between 1160m-2607m above sea level, weather in the park is generally chilly and rain is expected at any moment of the day.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park is a home to the world’s largest population of mountain gorillas with over 1063 according to 2019 statistics, which the half of the world’s total population. The park currently has a total of 20 habituated gorillas families (2 families designated for gorilla habituated experience) found in the 4 sectors of the park that is Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. Mountain gorillas families in Bwindi impenetrable national park include
- Mubare gorilla family
- Habinyanja Gorilla Family
- Rushegura Gorilla Family
- Nkuringo Gorilla Family
- Oruzogo Gorilla Family
- Bitukura Gorilla Family
- Kyaguriro Gorilla Family
- Nshongi Gorilla Family
- Mishaya Gorilla Family
- Kahungye Gorilla Family
- Bweza gorilla family
- Busingye Gorilla Family
On top of Mountain gorillas, Bwindi impenetrable national park is a home to about 120 mammal species living in the dense forests dominating the park, these mammals are small and large mammals and they 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 among others. The forests of Bwindi hosts 11 primate species that 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 mountain gorillas.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park is one of the best birding areas in Uganda hosting about 350 species of birds including 23 Albertine Rift endemics recorded to be found nowhere else in Uganda and globally threatened species. Birds in Bwindi impenetrable national park 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. Other creatures found in the forests of Bwindi include 200 butterfly species including 8 Albertine rift endemics such as African giant swallowtail and Cream-banded swallowtail. Amphibian species recorded to be 27 including 11 species endemic to the Albertine rift, 14 species of snakes and 14 species of lizards.
Safari activities to do in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi impenetrable national park is famous known for the mountain gorilla trekking experience, however there are more safari activities to do in this park and they are as follows
Mountain gorilla trekking
Mountain gorilla trekking is the main safari activity to do in Bwindi impenetrable national park, this activity offers a face to face encounter with the endangered mountain gorillas living in the jungle of Bwindi. The forests of Bwindi are a home to the largest number of mountain gorillas in the world with 15 habituated gorilla families open for trekking, to participate in this amazing activity you need to purchase a mountain gorilla trekking from the Uganda wildlife Authority.
Individuals above the age of 15 years are permitted to participate in the mountain gorilla trekking in a group of 8 people, this experience lasts for about4-6 hours involving hiking through the rugged terrain of the park which is physically demanding. This activity permits you to stay in the presence of mountain gorillas for one hour of watching them groom each other, pick fruits and leaves for food and playing, while in their presence you are to stay at least 8 meters away from the mountain gorillas.
Mountain gorilla trekking lasts about for a day that is why you go with your packed lunch, while in the presence of the gorillas you are allowed to take pictures as long as your flashlight is off.
Alternatively for tourists who want to stay in the presence of mountain gorillas for more than one hour, you can participate in Gorilla Habituation experience, this activity offers you a full day of being in presence of mountain gorillas.
Bwindi impenetrable national park is a prime birding spot in Uganda ad according to the Africa Bird Club it was recognized as Africa’s number one birding spot, the park is a home to about 350 bird species including 23 Albertine Rift endemics and 14 of endemic species recorded to only be found in the Bwindi forests.
Bird watching in Bwindi Impenetrable national park is done using various trails such as River Ivi trail, Munyaga River trail, Ruhija’s bamboo trail and Mubwindi Swamp trail. Bird watching in Bwindi Impenetrable national park offers a chance to spot many birds such as White-tailed Blue Monarch, white-tailed blue flycatcher, White-browed Crombec, White-bellied Robin Chat, white tailed blue monarch, Western Green Tinkerbird, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, strange weaver, Short-tailed Warbler, Shelley’s Crimson-wing, Ruwenzori Batis, Rusty-faced woodland Warbler, Red-throated Alethe, red-tailed bulbul, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Purple-breasted, Mountain masked Apalis, Chestnut –throated Apalises, McKinnon’s grey shrike, Kivu Ground Thrush and honey guide among others.
Nature and waterfalls walks
In Bwindi Impenetrable national park there are trails use to explore the park on nature and waterfall walks, these walks are done along with an armed Uganda Wildlife ranger guide for protection in case of an attack from a wild animal. Nature walks in Bwindi Impenetrable national park leads to various waterfalls with pools where you can dive in and a chance to watch a variety of wildlife and birds inhabiting in the forests of Bwindi.
Trails in Bwindi Impenetrable national park include
- Buhoma – Nkuringo trail taking approximately 4-5 hours of walking, this trail crosses through the forests of the park.
- Rushura Hill walk running through the forest between Congo and Uganda
- Muyanga waterfall walk trail leading to the beautiful Munyaga waterfalls.
- Ivi River Walk of 14 kilometers taking about 7 hours
- Muzubijiro Loop of 6 kilometers of walk through the hill, this trail offers perfect chances of watching primates and birds..
Mountain Hiking and biking
Bwindi Impenetrable national park is situated in the Kigezi region which is a mountainous area offering thrilling mountain hiking and biking experience, this adventurous activity offers an opportunity to enjoy scenic views of the Bwindi Impenetrable national park and the Kigezi region. Most of the lodges in the park offer bikes for rent to use during biking safari, biking is done on various trails created by the local community such as the Ivi river trail starting from Buhoma Park headquarters to Ivi river. This trail is organized by ride for women project.
Community walks and Cultural experiences
Community walks and cultural experiences in Bwindi Impenetrable national park are done in communities situated along the borders of the park that is the Batwa community, the Batwa used to live in the forests of Bwindi before the forests ere designated as national parks. Visiting the Batwa offers an insight into the local lifestyle of the people, the batwa pygmy are hunter-gatherers ad while visiting them you will enjoy demonstrations of hunting skills, be entertained by cultural dances and drama, visit the local herbalist, learn how the co-existed with the mountain gorillas and other animals in the forests of Bwindi. You will also visit primary schools, local market, learn how to make juice, beer and gin from bananas and purchase some of the beautiful craft pieces made by the batwa.
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable national park is situated in the southwestern region of Uganda, the park is accessed by both road and air means of transport. Scheduled/chartered flights to Bwindi impenetrable national park are offered from Entebbe International airport or Kajjansi airstrip to Kihihi airstrip when connecting to Buhoma area and Kisoro airstrip connecting to Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga.
Using road transport from Kampala, 3 routes are used to get to these park and these include
- Kampala – Kabale – Ruhija
- Kampala – Ntungamo – Rukungiri – Kihihi – Buhoma/Nyondo
- Kampala – Kabale – Kisoro – Rushaga/Nkuringo.
Accommodation in Bwindi Impenetrable national park
There is a variety of safari lodges, hotels and camps offering accommodation to travelers on a Uganda safari in Bwindi impenetrable national park, accommodation facilities range from luxury, midrange and budget and they are found in the four sectors of the park.
- Buhoma Lodge
- Bwindi Lodge
- Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Lodge
- Mahogany Springs
- Buhoma Haven Lodge
- Silverback Lodge
- Buhoma Community Rest Camp
- Chameleon Hill
- Bwindi Jungle Lodge
- Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge
- Rushaga Gorilla Camp
- Gorilla Valley Lodge
- Bakiga Lodge
- Broadbill Forest Camp
- Agandi Lodge
- Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge
- Nkuringo Safari Lodge