Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in southwestern Uganda in Kanungu district along Democratic Republic of Congo border. The national park was gazetted in 1991 mainly to conserve and protect the endangered mountain gorillas and it was declared a UNESCO World heritage site in 1994 due to its rich biodiversity and ecological importance. Bwindi impenetrable national park covers a total area of 331 square kilometers and lies at an altitude of 1160m to 2607m above the sea level. the park is a habitat of about 120 mammal species including the mountain gorillas, elephants, duikers, clawless otters, civet, side striped jackal, bush pigs, buffaloes, golden cats, 220 butterflies, 360 bird species including dark caped bulbul, African emerald cuckoo, African harrier hawk, giant kingfisher among others.
Attractions in Bwindi impenetrable national park
Mountain gorillas, Bwindi impenetrable national park is the only destination in Uganda that harbors the highest number of mountain gorillas which are found in four sectors namely Ruhija, Nkuringo, Buhoma and Rushaga. Mountain gorillas in the park can be viewed during gorilla trekking which is done in the tropical rainforests in the park.
Chimpanzees, the national park also harbors a number of chimpanzees though not habituated therefore you will be able to spot the chimpanzees during gorilla trekking or nature walk and also other primates like the L’hoest monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys among others.
Animals, Bwindi impenetrable national park is a home of about 120 mammal species which are rarely seen due to the dense tropical rainforests and they include elephants, buffaloes, duikers, golden cats, giant forest hogs, side striped jackal, civet among others.
Birds, Bwindi impenetrable national park is one of the best birding destinations in Uganda in that it harbors over 360 bird species with about 14 species not found anywhere in Uganda and about 23 species endemic to the Albertine rift. Bird species that can be viewed in the park include crowned hornbill, giant kingfisher, African green pigeon, short tailed warbler, blue headed sunbird, common bulbul, African emerald cuckoo, Kivu ground thrush among others.
Batwa people, the Batwa or pygmies are an indigenous group of people who used to live in Bwindi forest before it was gazetted as a national park in 1991. On your safari in the park you will have an encounter with the Batwa who were resettled outside the park as you learn about their lifestyle and how they live in the forest.
Things to do in Bwindi impenetrable national park
Gorilla trekking is the major and most interesting activity carried out in park which allows visitors to move into the tropical rainforests in search of the habituated gorilla families and once found spend one hour with them in their natural habitat. Bwindi impenetrable national park harbors half of the world’s mountain gorillas and about 19 habituated gorilla families which are found in four sectors namely Buhoma sector in the north with 4 gorilla families, Rushaga sector in the south with 8 gorilla families, Ruhija sector in the east with 4 gorilla families and Nkuringo sector in the south with 3 gorilla families. Gorilla trekking in the park starts in the morning with a briefing at the headquarters where after you will grouped into 8 people to trek each habituated gorilla family. Grouping of individuals at the park headquarters is done according to age, personal preferences and physical fitness.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park takes about 30 minutes to 7 hours depending on the location of the gorillas and once found, you will be able to spend one hour with the gorillas in their natural habitat learning about their lifestyle, habits, behaviors, taking photos, recording videos among others.
Visitors interested in trekking the endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable national park will have to first acquire a gorilla trekking permit which is issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority a tourism body in Uganda and allows visitors to visit the habituated gorilla families in the park. A gorilla trekking permit in Bwindi impenetrable national park costs $600 for foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for East African citizens. The gorilla trekking permit was however increased by $100 therefore effective 1st July 2020 foreign non-residents will pay $700 and $600 for foreign residents.
Gorilla habituation experience
Gorilla habituation is an incredible activity in the park where the wild mountain gorillas are trained to get used to human presence for trekking. Gorilla habituation is a process that is carried out by a team of researchers, trackers, park rangers among others and takes a period of 2 to 3 years to be complete. Gorilla habituation experience is only carried out in Rushaga sector in Bwindi impenetrable national park, allows a maximum of 4 visitors per day who spend four hours with the gorillas under habituation compared to the one hour. Visitors interested in gorilla habituation experience also have to first purchase a permit which costs $1500 for foreign non-residents, $1000 for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for East African citizens.
Nature walks/ Hiking
This is a thrilling activity in the park that gives you an opportunity to explore the forest while on foot as you enjoy the quiet environment, cool breeze, fresh air, primate species, butterflies, various tree species, listen to birds singing in the trees among others. nature walk in Bwindi impenetrable national park is best dine in Buhoma sector where there are about 6 hiking trails including Muyanga waterfall trail which offers great views of the waterfall, Muzubijiro loop trail where you will view primates, tree species like ferns, Rushura hill walk where you will have views of lake Edward and lake George, Rwenzori mountains, Buhoma-Nkuringo trail where you will view misty hillsides, Habinyanja trail where you will cross Munyaga River, Buhoma River as you view various bird species, Ivi River walk which passes through Mukempu a place where wild pigs are found.
This is an incredible activity that is carried out in and around Bwindi impenetrable forest. mountain biking is organized by Ride 4 a woman which is a women organization in the park which rents bikes to visitors interested in mountain biking. Mountain biking activity starts in the morning with a trained guide who will be showing you the trails to follow as well as sharing information about wildlife species in the forest. During mountain biking, you will follow a 13km trail from the park headquarters to Ivi River which takes about 6 to 7 hours and you will be able to view primates like the black and white colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, L’hoest monkeys, chimpanzees, bush pigs, duikers, bushbucks, squirrels, local people such as the Batwa, craft centers, farmlands, plant species, bird species among others which gives you thrilling and lifetime experiences as well as supporting the community.
Bwindi impenetrable national park is a home of about 360 bird species with 23 species endemic to the Albertine rift and 14 species not seen anywhere else in Uganda. Bird watching in the park is commonly done along the trails such as waterfall trail in Buhoma, bamboo zone and Mubwindi swamp trail in Ruhija among others. during birding in the park you can look out for bird species such as giant kingfisher, African green pigeon, African emerald cuckoo, Chapin’s fly catcher, handsome francolin, black bee-eater, grey guckoo shrike, African wood owl, strange weaver, Rwenzori Batis, collared Apalis, Kivu ground shrike, western green tinker bird, dusky twinspot, purple breasted sunbird, mountain yellow warbler, red throated alethe, African green broadbill among others.
This is an interesting activity that gives you an opportunity to interact with the local people around the park. During the cultural encounter you will visit the Batwa who used to live in the forest before it was gazetted into a national park in 1991 where you will learn about their hunting and gathering skills and also listen to their stories of how they lived in the forest. On your cultural tour, you will be able to visit the Bakiga people, participate in cultural performances from women’s group, learn about their unique culture, visit the craft shops among others.
Where to stay in Bwindi impenetrable national park
Bwindi impenetrable national park has a wide range of luxury, midrange and budget accommodation facilities where you can stay on your safari including Buhoma Lodge, Mahogany Springs Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Engagi Lodge, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Eco Marvels Gorilla Resort, Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge, Gorilla Mist Camp, Ruhija Gorilla Friends Resort Campsite, Gorilla Safari Lodge, Clouds Lodge, Nshongi Camp, Kisoro Tourist Hotel, Nkuringo Gorilla Camp, Bwindi Lodge, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Lodge, Buhoma Haven Lodge, Chameleon Hill, Bwindi Jungle Lodge, Mutanda Lake Resort, Gorilla Valley Lodge, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Bakiga Lodge, Agandi Lodge, Broadbill Forest Camp among others.
When to visit Bwindi impenetrable national park
Bwindi impenetrable national park can be visited all year round though the best period is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. The dry season is also known as the peak season and during this period there is less rainfall in the park therefore access roads to the national park will be passable, gorilla trekking and hiking trails in the forest will be dry and passable compared to the rainy season when they are muddy and slippery.
How to get to Bwindi impenetrable national park
Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in the southern part of Uganda and can be accessed by road and air transport means
Air transport, there are domestic companies like Aerolink Uganda limited which operate chartered and scheduled flights daily from Entebbe airport or Kajansi airfield to Kihihi airstrip and then connect to the park headquarters.
Bwindi impenetrable national park can also be accessed from Kigali Rwanda where by you will fly to Kigali international airport and then connect to Bwindi impenetrable national park via Cyanika border in Kisoro or Katuna border in Kabale and the journey takes about 3 to 4 hours’ drive.
Road transport, when using road transport, you will drive from Kampala via Mbarara, Kabale and then to the park headquarters which takes about 8 to 9 hours’ drive.
Bwindi impenetrable national park can also be accessed from Queen Elizabeth national park. When travelling from Queen Elizabeth national park, you will drive from Mweya via Ishasha sector where you will be able to view the tree climbing lions lying up in the acacia, fig tree branches and then continue to the park headquarters which takes about 3 to 4 hours’ drive.