Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the best places to see the mountain gorilla in Uganda. As you might guess from the name, this is a genuine tropical rainforest. About half of the worlds mountain gorilla population live within the park and this is the main reason for visiting the park. There are also around 93 mammal species and 345 bird species inhabiting the area.

The best approach for getting to see the gorillas is to contact a Kampala tour operator and give them a window which you will be available to visit the park. You can expect to pay$1250 for the 3 Day Gorilla Safari, but its well worth the money. The experience of seeing mountain gorillas up close in the wild is one of the most unforgettable experiences you can have in “the pearl of Africa”.

The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the four national parks that provide a safe and conducive abode for the endangered mountain gorillas. Almost 500 mountain gorillas take refuge in this nearly impenetrable forest (it can only be toured on foot) and the Bwindi gorilla population holds record for over half of the surviving mountain gorillas on earth.

On top of being a celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bwindi is a sanctuary for over 348 species of birds 120 mammal species‚ 215 butterfly species and at least 27 reptile species have been recorded including geckos, frogs, snakes, chameleons among others.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the top national parks for adventures in Africa. Situated in the southwestern region of Uganda, Bwindi is famous for mountain gorilla safaris, an adventure activity that involves tourists hiking in the impenetrable jungles looking for the mountain gorillas that live within the higher slopes of the forest.

Location of the Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies on the margin of the Rift Valley and also located along the border of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo near to the Congo’s well-known Virunga National Park.

Size

The park covers an estimated are of 331 square kilometers (128 sq. mi) of Impenetrable forest jungle and has both lowland forest and montane forest accessible only on foot.

Gorilla Tourism in the Park

Historically in the year 1932, two important parts of the Eco-diversified Bwindi Impenetrable Forest were named as Crown Forest Reserves and the Northern block of the forest was considered as the “Kayonza Crown Forest Reserve while the Southern counter block of the forest was designated as the “Kasatora Crown Forest Reserve. The designated reserves had a total area of 207 square kilometers (80 sq mi). In the year 1942, the designated two forest Reserves were amalgamated and renamed as Impenetrable Central Crown Forest and name rename area covered an estimated area of 298 square kilometers and it was managed by the two bodies of Ugandan government forest department and Game department.

In the year1964, the reserve was considered as an animal sanctuary and this was done so as to provide more conservation and protection of the endangered mountain gorillas which were rare and most wanted to trek by the visitors under taking safaris in Uganda and from then the name changed to Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve. In the year 1966, other two vital forest reserves were added to form the main forest reserve and this increased the total area covered by the Central forest Reserve to roughly 321 square kilometers (124 sq mi) and it was under the administration and management of the two bodies’ i.e. Game sanctuary and forest reserve.

The remarkable history of the park which no visitors mainly on Uganda gorilla safari and tour should not miss knowing is the one explained in the year 1991, where three forest reserves of Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve as well as Mgahinga Gorilla Reserve and the popularly Rwenzori Mountains Reserve were declared national parks and they renamed Impenetrable forest Reserve to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park covering an estimated area of 330.8 square kilometers (127.7 sq. mi).

About Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The precious Bwindi Impenetrable national park was gazetted into national park in order to protect and conserve the wide range of species within the park and most importantly was the rare mountain gorilla. The declaration of the forest into national park affected negatively the Batwa pygmy people who were the traditional inhabitants of the forest and at time they were evicted from the forest without compensation and they were not allowed to extract any forest resources. In the year 1993, Gorilla tracking became a dominant tourist activity in the park and the first gorilla group to be habituated for tourism purposes was the Mubare gorilla group which was opened in the month of April, 1993.The opening of this group of mountain gorillas helped to fuel the numbers of gorilla safaris in Uganda.

Attractions in Bwindi national park

Bwindi National park has abundant wildlife and other organisms or plants which are attractive to tourists. The park‘s being endowed with various unique natural resources make it the most desired by most of the tourists who are on their Uganda safaris. The best way one can know the interesting history of Bwindi is by under taking a gorilla safari to Uganda. Here visitors are taken to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where one will come to discover the interesting hidden secret of Uganda’s most attractive park.

Mountain Gorillas

A permit to track gorillas costs US$800 and the experience is a life time.

Birds

This forest is endowed with a variety of bird species and most of them are rarely seen in other places. Bwindi hosts like 350 species of birds and most of them are Albertine rift endemics. Among the beautiful species that are found in this great forest include. The Short-tailed Warbler and Blue-headed Sunbird as well as seven IUCN red data listed species among others.

Culture

Experience the great culture of Bafumbira, Bakiga and Batwa around the forest. These people have good cultural activities that are organised once paid a visit.

Nature walks

There are so many trails around the forest which are rewarding with attractions like monkey and different species of birds. There is also some small rivers in the forest like the river Rushaga. All these can be an added on the gorilla tracking experience.

Plants and trees

Besides all the above, there are also medicinal plants in the forest, some of which are very vital to gorillas like the Amariansus and the Abratinsha. These are commonly good for gorillas and are rarely found elsewhere in the world. There are163 species of trees and 104 species of ferns recorded.

Activities in Bwindi National Park

Mountain Gorilla Trekking

This is the chief activity known for Bwindi national park and the mountain gorillas being the key attraction of the area. The park harbors more than 500 gorilla individuals. This number makes Bwindi as home to more than half of the mountain gorilla population which stands at approximately 1000 and so mountain gorillas surviving. Gorilla trekking is one of the leading tourism activities on the African continent and numerous visitors travel to the few places that possesses these magnificent beasts.

An encounter with a gorilla family in the wild is riveted as one of the few experiences anyone must have on earth. Very many visitors leave testifying of the surprising peaceful demeanor of the gorillas yet their enormous size is usually associated with violence and danger by most people.

Bird Watching

Bwindi is among Uganda’s leading bird watching sites as testified by the rich bird species on its record list. 19 Albertine rift endemic species have been recorded in the park on top of over 360 other species that call this impenetrable forest home. Passionate birders are guaranteed an exhilarating time on a visit to Bwindi.

A few of the bird species encountered on a bird watching safari in the park include Rwenzori turacos, scarlet tufted Malachite sunbirds, Dwarf honeyguides, cream banded swallowtail, montane Rwenzori nightjar, bearded vultures, African green broadbill among others.

Cultural Encounters

Take on the surrounding local communities to explore and interact with the traditional Batwa and Bakiga ethnic tribes that live around the park. Explore their lifestyle and culture like traditional dances, food, dressing and folklore that’s full of rich history. The Batwa were the original residents of Bwindi forest a group of pygmy people that depended on fruit gathering and hunting before they were evacuated and the forest designated as a national park mainly for the protection of mountain gorillas.

All these and other mesmerizing activities are savored with just a flight to Bwindi impenetrable national park. Other remarkable activities to note involve bike safaris in the park, epic nature walks under the stunning canopy of the forest and butterfly watching for interested guests.

Loving to visit Bwindi for a gorilla safari or any activity of your taste? Worry no more about long distances and hours on the road as a quick and easy scheduled flight can get you within the park in an hour instead of 10 hours on the road.

Getting There

By Road

The easiest means of transport to Bwindi is by road. Bwindi is located in the south-western part of Uganda with approximately 540km from Kampala.

It can be accessed from Queen Elizabeth National Park to the northern just 2 to 3 hours drive, from Kampala through Mbarara about 6 to 8 hours drive or from Kabuli town to the southern just 1 to 2 hours. These roads then converge at Butogota, just 17 kilometers from the Buhoma entrance-gate. 4×4 vehicle is needed through the rainy months. A daily bus service leaves Kampala for Butogota via Rukungiri and Kihiihi.

On your way to the park, you will pass through Ishasha and you will enjoy seeing the climbing lions along with monkeys on the road. Bwindi covers an area of about 160km from Mweya and about 64km from Ishasha.

The route from Kampala-Kabale-Nkuringo. Covers a distance of about 105kms from Kabale town and it takes about 4 hours to get to the mountainous murram road. Many tourists take up nights in Kisoro town and the remaining distance is about 80km from Kabale prior to Nkuringo. Kisoro road is a meandering 35km and takes about 1-1.5 hours.

There is another route from Kampala – Kabale – kenning to Buhoma. The route has a tarmac highway to kabala and covers an area of about 414 km and it’s a 5-6 hour’s drive. The next route has a murram road and has about 120km. the route goes through Kanungu as well as Kanyantorogo and it takes about 4-5hours.

By Air

You can choose to fly from Entebbe Kampala to the tarmac airstrip found at Kisoro. Additionally Planes may as well be chartered to the Savannah or the grass Kayonza airstrips. There are local air lines that can work best to connect like aero link.

Bwindi national park is served by 3 airfields at Kihiihi, Kayonza for the northern area and  Nyakabande found in Kisoro for people going to track mountain gorillas within the southern area Rushaga and Nkuringo.

 Accommodation

There is different types of accommodations in Bwindi ranging from Budget, midrange and Luxury. Each region has different lodges which offers quality services to visitors, in Buhoma region, examples of lodges include Buhoma lodge, silver back lodge, jungle view lodge and Buhoma community rest camp.

In Rushaga, lodges include Chameleon hill, Gorilla safari lodge, Nsongi camp, Lake Mutanda and Kisoro travellers rest. In Nkuringo there is clouds lodge and Nkuringo gorilla camp. In Ruhija region, there is Ruhija gorilla lodge and gorilla mist camp.

All these lodges offer good services to travellers and they are classified from budget to up market.

The beds range from double, twin to single. The lodges offers services like Meals on full board or half board, and cultural performances. Some lodges are located on lake shores like the chameleon hill lodge and Lake Mutanda lodge and they have activities like boat cruise to different highlands. All this experience can be added to gorilla tracking.