Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park Uganda| Gorilla Trekking Tours & Safaris
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is positioned in southwestern Uganda, covering an area of 321 km² and lies between 1,160m and 2,607m above sea level. Bwindi impenetrable forest was gazetted as a National Park in Uganda in 1991 and in 1994, it was declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site.
In April 1993, the first gorilla family was habituated in Buhoma sector and was named Mubare gorilla group. This family name was derived from the gorgeous Mubare hills on which the group was first sighted. MUbare family had 18 individuals by then however, with time; the family has split hence reducing the number to 5 members.
Currently Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda is endowed with 17 habituated gorilla families read for gorilla trekking tours in Uganda hence making the world’s prime destination for mountain gorilla encounters.
Bwindi is bordered by Democratic Republic of Congo in the western and Kabale town in the southeast just 29 kilometres away by road. The park is nestled at the edge of the Western Rift Valley at the highest parts of Kigezi Highlands that were formed as a result up-Wapping after the formation western arm of the Greet East African rift Valley. The general land scape of Bwindi is rugged with narrow valleys intersected by rivers such as Ivi, Ihihizo, Munyaga and steep hills of the area.
The highest elevation of Bwindi impenetrable national park is Rwamunyonyi hill; located in the eastern part of the park while the lowest point of Bwindi is at its most northern tip.
Bwindi forest is characterized by Afromontane vegetation, which is a rare type of vegetation in Africa! The park is a home to more than 220 tree species hence more than 50% of Uganda’s tree species. However; the brown Mahogany is a being threatened due to illegal harvesting by the surrounding community.
Bwindi forest is among a few remained tropical rain forests in East Africa where the lowland and montane vegetation zones meet together. Bwindi serves as a water tower to most of the wildlife species living in the forest due to dense forest or vegetation cover.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park Uganda is naturally endowed with tropical climate with annual mean temperature ranging from 7–27°C and annual mean rainfall ranges from 1,400 to 1,900mm. Highest downpour is recorded from March to April and September to November.
In most cases Bwindi impenetrable national park is cold in the mornings and nights with moderate temperatures between 7⁰C and 20⁰C in June and July while in September to November, the park experiences total annual rainfall of 2390mm raining for long hours with gentle drizzles and the warmest month is always January.
How to Access Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi can be accessed from Kigali Rwanda and Kampala/Entebbe Uganda by road;
Get to Bwindi impenetrable national park from Rwanda
Tourists coming from Kigali Rwanda to Bwindi impenetrable national park by road may use Virunga express bus company with a booking office in Nyabugogo Taxi Park Kigali city. The journey from Kigali will take you to Uganda through Gatuna boarder to Kabale town where you may board a Taxi to any of the four tracking sectors. However, if you have used the above route; Ruhija is a nearest sector with just 1hrs drive to the park offices.
If you are in Musanze Rwanda board a taxi to Chanika-Rwanda-Uganda boarder and cross then over to the nearest Bwindi gorilla tracking sectors of Nkuringo and Rushaga
Bwindi southern region is the shortest route for tourist who wish to start their Bwindi Uganda gorilla safaris and tours from Kigali international airport. The journey is between 3-4hrs drive
Get to Bwindi impenetrable national park from Kampala or Entebbe Uganda
The journey from Kampala to Bwindi is approximately 9-11 hours drive on road. Take a ride from any of the points above enroute Kampala- Mbarara-Kabale highway. From Kabale continue with your journey following your booked gorilla tracking sector. It is approximately 1:30 hour and 2:40 hours drive from Kabale town to Ruhinja and Buhoma sector respectively through Kabale-Bubale-Ruhija-Buhoma
For those with Rushaga and Nkuringo gorilla permits, drive take Kabale-Bubale-Rubanda-Muko-Rushaga-Rubuguri-Nkuringo road
Getting to Bwindi impenetrable national park by Air
Tourists can fly from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield to either Kisoro airstrip to track gorillas in Nkuringo and Rushaga or Kihihi airstrip for those with Buhoma and Ruhija gorilla permits. Prior ground transport and transfer arrangement is required.
Top activities in Bwindi Uganda
There is much more than gorilla tracking in Bwindi. Below are some of the top attractions and activities guests may explore on your visit to the world’s home of silverbacks
Birding In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi is Uganda’s oldest forest with about 350 species of birds recorded. It has a variety of birds with 90% of the Albertine Rift endemics. It has 23 endemics including Blue-headed Sunbird and Short-tailed Warbler. There are also seven IUCN red data listed species. It is easy to spot Red-headed Bluebill, Flycatchers African, Emerald Cuckoo and Common Bulbul, African Blue and White-tailed Blue.
Birding is a common practice in Bwindi Swamp trail of Ruhija, Buhoma Waterfall Trail and the bamboo zone.
Cultural tours in bwindi
Bwindi is rich with the local Bakiga and Batwa cultures. These two communities practice a lot of handcraft such as the beeswax candles, fabrics, and wood carvings. On the three-hour village walk you will meet some shops selling these artefacts. These cultural activities are very important in the livelihood of the Batwa and Bakiga communities. The Batwa also prove their talents in cultural aspects of cultural/traditional songs and dances. These songs and dances portray the Batwa past life in the forest.
Black smith is also practiced in the area. Traditional doctors also heal their patients using the local herbs got from the plants. Beers from banana are also made and a visitor can buy if he or she wants to test.
Gorilla Trekking In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
In Uganda, Bwindi is well known for being a habitat of Mountain Gorillas hence gorilla tracking is must do experience on a visit to Bwindi forest national park. Rushaga, Buhoma, Nkuringo and Ruhija are the four main gorilla tracking locations in Bwindi. These locations have 18 gorilla families.
Gorilla tracking permits can be secured if you book with Africa Adventure Vacations or directly with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). You can pay for the permit in advance up to two years.
A number of 8 visitors aged above 15years are allowed to track gorillas for one hour in a day under a guidance of a professional UWA ranger who always help guests to spot gorillas and other forest residents during a trail.
Mountain biking in bwindi
Mountain cycling in Bwindi is an ultimate adventure that starts from the headquarters of a park; Buhoma to Ivi River. It is a 13km trail. While mountain biking you spot red-tailed monkeys, black-and-white colobus and bushbucks. It takes six to seven hours. The cycling is always organized by Buhoma Community Rest Camp. It is under the community development initiative known as “Ride for a Woman”.
Hiking Or Nature Walks In Bwindi
Primate encounters, waterfall walks, mountain views, impressive birdlife spotting and forest walks are the main activities on your nature walk trail in Buhoma. When walking from Rushura Hill Walk, you go through a forest shared by two countries. During the day you will view the conical peaks of the Virunga Volcanoes, Rwenzori Mountains and lakes Edward and George.
When exploring Bwindi impenetrable forest, you will find Muyanga waterfall walk departing from Buhoma to river Ivi Nkuringo trail. It is sighted 33m with the falls plummeting. After a walk of 6km around a hill of Muzubijiro, you will spot birds and primates that will attract your attention. You will view Virunga ranges too.
Wild pigs are also found in a place known as Mukempunu. The seven hours walk of Ivi river which is 14km makes trail pass through a place of wild pigs “Mukempunu”. The legendary African Corner is found along a trail found the Habigorogoro and Riyovi Ridge which gives you a chance of spotting Buhoma river. Habinyanja trail is estimated 4-6hours. On the steep ascent the hikers enjoy a comfort of sloping habinyanja swamp. Birders walking on this route will see African Black Duck and Black Bee Eaters, Pel’s Fishing Owl and more.
The tail of Buhoma-Nkuringo is roughly three hours. It crosses through the park hence connecting two villages. This has an oversight of impressing misty hillsides of Nkuringo. It is also good to leave the luggage with the driver to meet you on the other side of hill. The walk to Ivi river can be put into consideration to complete the trail.
Accommodation in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi has a number of accommodation properties ranging from Budget to luxury safari lodges. Some are located within the park while others are at the outskirts of the forest. These include;
Lodges in Buhoma sector
- Buhoma Lodge
- Mahogany Springs
- Bwindi Lodge
- Silverback Lodge
- Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Lodge
- Buhoma Haven Lodge
- Buhoma Community Rest Camp
Lodges in Ruhija Sector
- Bakiga Lodge
- Gorilla Mist Camp
- Agandi Lodge
- Broadbill Forest Camp
Lodges in Rushaga sector
- Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge
- Chameleon Hill
- Rushaga Gorilla Camp
- Bwindi Jungle Lodge
- Gorilla Valley Lodge
Lodges in Nkuringo Sector
- Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge
- Gorilla Heights Lodge
- Nkuringo Safari Lodge
Gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park
Bwindi impenetrable national park Uganda is divided into four gorilla tracking sectors that is to say Nkuringo, Rushaga, Ruhinja and Buhoma sectors; each with a number of habituated gorilla families for gorilla trekking safaris and tours. These gorilla families include;
- Nshongi Group Family
- Mishaya Gorilla Family
- Bitukura Group
- Nkuringo Gorilla Family
- Oruzogo Gorilla Family
- Mubare Group Family
- Habinyanja Group Family
- Rushegura Group Family
- Kyaguriro Gorilla Family
- Busingye Gorilla Family
- Bweza Gorilla Family
- Kahungye Gorilla Family
Bwindi impenetrable national park is a home to 17 habituated gorilla families and 2 families are available for gorilla habituation experience in Rushaga sector. Eight (8) gorilla permits are available each day for each gorilla family for gorilla trekking tours and only 4 permits for habituation experiences. Gorilla permits are sold at $700 and $1500 for gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation experiences respectively
Gorilla families are named based on their formation history, group location and name of the dominant silverback in the family.
Best Time to Visit Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park
Are you planning to visit Bwindi for gorilla tours and safaris? Gorilla tracking is done throughout the year in all the sectors however, we advise you to explore the park in dry seasons of June to August and December to February because forest trails tend to be drier and therefore less slippery. Bwindi receives higher numbers of visitor turnover during peak seasons from June to September and December to February; we therefore recommend tourist to book permits in advance to avoid disappointments.
The low season normally happens in March, April, May, October and November. During those months, we always receive heavy rainfall hence making the trails and forest cover slippery and difficult during trekking.
Gorilla Trekking Safety Precautions in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park
Gorilla trekking is considered very safe activity in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park Uganda with visitor being take to habituated gorilla families under the guidance of professional park rangers. Mountain gorillas in Bwindi see people on a daily basis and learned that humans are not their enemies although young gorillas might sometimes show some curiosity to come closer and threaten people. We therefore advise you to take note of the following precautions on your gorilla tour;
- Always follow the rangers’ instructions and guidelines
- Stay and move together as a group with your rangers
- Always take note of the recommended distance of at least 7 meters between you and the gorillas.
- If the gorilla approaches you, kindly wait for your ranger’s instruction before taking any step.
- Under rare circumstances of gorilla charging, bend down slowly, look down and wait for further instruction from the ranger
- Avoid looking directly in eyes of the gorillas.
- Avoid making quick movements and keep your voice as low as possible
- Avoid blocking the path of gorillas when they are walking.
- Never use a flash when photographing gorillas
- Never visit the gorillas if you are ill and turn away if you want to cough because mountain gorillas are susceptible to human diseases.
- Avoid taking food and drinks close to gorillas.
- Cover your arms and legs to avoid nettle stings and use insect repellent to protect against mosquitoes
- Wear a hat, use sunscreen, and pack plenty of water for drinking during your trek
- Wear strong hiking shoes, waterproof clothing and bring a waterproof bag for your camera and other belongings.
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