Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the most amazing safari destinations in Uganda with the amazing primate species of gorillas that attract quite a number of tourists for gorilla trekking.
Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in southwestern Uganda in Kanungu district and Kabale district in the southeast 29 km by road. It is situated along the Democratic Republic of Cong border next to Virunga national park and on the edge of the Albertine rift valley. It ranges between (1190metres to 2607metres) to 8553 ft above the sea level. Bwindi impenetrable national park is most famous for endangered gorilla trekking and a habitat of 120 species of mammals like elephants, small mammals like rodents and bats, 220 butterfly species, 27 frogs, chameleons, 350 bird species of which 23 are endemic to the Albertine rift valley and 14 bird species that are nowhere else in Uganda, for example, the white-tailed blue flycatcher, brown necked parrot, African green broadbill and many more wildlife species.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park is one of the national parks with the endangered gorillas and it harbors half of the world’s gorilla population with around 450 individuals, and 14 habituation Gorilla groups which are found in the 4 sectors of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rrushaga, and Nkuringo. It is also a sanctuary for primates like red-tailed colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white monkeys chimpanzees, baboons among others. Bwindi impenetrable national park is among the forests in East Africa with more than 1000 flowering plant species including 163 tree species, 104 ferns. Bwindi forest acts as a water catchment area and is the source of many rivers that flow to the north, west, and south and they include Ishaish, Ntengyere, Ihihizo, and Munyaga which flow into Lake Edward, other rivers flow into lakes like Mutanda and Bunyonyi hence supplying water to the local communities for agricultural use.
The distance from Kampala city to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is approximately 540 kilometers and it takes 46kms from Entebbe airport to Kampala capital city. Kampala to Kabale is 4140kms and takes 6 to 7 hours by road and is 120km from Kabale to Buhoma park headquarters via Kanungu and Kanyantorogo on murram road takes 3 to 4 hours. Kabale- Ruhija- Buhoma is 95kms. incase a visitor wants to use air transport he or she will fly from Kajjansi airfield to Kisoro airstrip and later picked by the guide to Buhoma and it takes one hour and 10 minutes by air. There are also public means of transport by the use of a bus from Kampala to Butogota.
Activities in Bwindi impenetrable national park
The national park has a large number of activities that the visitors can participate in during the Bwindi safari including gorilla trekking which is the most done activity, cycling tours, mountain biking, cultural encounters, hiking to Nkuringo, bird watching, gorilla habituation, nature walks among others.
Gorilla trekking, this is the major and most interesting activity in Bwindi national park and has promoted tourism industry in Uganda in that it’s a home of about 450 individuals of gorillas and most tourists come to see mountain gorillas in Bwindi. It requires hiking or trekking for long distances in search of gorillas depending on where they were last spotted and the trekking starts very early in the morning at around 8:30 am at Buhoma sector in Ruhija. Rushaga and Nkuringo usually take 1 to 7 hours during the trek and one hour in the presence of the mountain gorillas once spotted.
During gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park four groups of gorillas are available for the tourists daily which include Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, and Nkuringo, and a maximum of 8 people are allowed to track gorillas per day. A gorilla trekking permit costs $ 600 during the high season for the non-residents and $350 in the low season. Other primates will be spotted while trekking including the chimpanzees, monkeys like vervet monkey, l-hoest monkey, black and white monkey, blue monkeys, mangabeys and many others.
Gorilla habituation experience is the process carried out to train the gorillas to get used to the human presence and is carried out in the Rushaga gorilla sector of Bwindi Forest in Uganda. There are 11 habituated gorilla families including Rushegura family in the north of Buhoma, Mubare family, Oruzogo family, Nshongi family, Busingye family, Mishaya family, Bweza family, Kahungye in Rushaga, Nkuringo family and two families are being habituated in Rushaga sector.
Gorilla habituation experience starts very early in the coming at 7:30 am compare to gorilla trekking which starts at 8:30 am and is led by the researchers, the guide and the visitors. Here the visitors are allowed to spend four hours within the presence of the gorilla families in their natural habitat observing, interacting, and learning their lifestyles, behaviors, way of feeding among others. The gorilla habituation permits cost $1500 for the non-residents.
Nature walks: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has more than five walk trails and they all take different directions in Buhoma. They include Muzubijiro loop trail, Munyanga river trail which is the shortest, Waterfall trail that leads to 3 clear waterfalls including Ruizi, Muzabajiro, and Rushurra. Visitors will be able to view butterfly species, Rushura trail, Ivi river trail which is the longest, bamboo trail which has the highest diversity in the park with over 14 vegetation types and will be able to view Lake Bunyonyi and Mafuga forest once on top. Others include Ruhija walk, Habinyanga trail and Buhoma village tourist walk where the tourists will interact with the Bakiga and Batwa communities, learning the activities carried out by people in the community which include making crafts like baskets, local brew, farming, performing traditional dances and so on. Most of the walks trails take about 3 hours and visitors will be able to view 190 different bird species, animals like elephants, forest hogs, antelopes, waterfalls, primates like monkeys, chimpanzees, mountain views, tree species like ferns, orchids and many more.
Mountain biking, this is practice where the visitors climb or move around the village riding the bikes which are provided by the organization and will be available for hire. It is also called ride 4 a woman and is organized by Buhoma community rest camp and takes 13kms to Ivi River and it takes about 6-7 hours. Buhoma rest camp provides a trained guide in birding, culture and other fields for the mountain biking and the visitor will see animals like bushbucks, monkeys and will also have a clear view on top of the mountain.
Cultural encounters, this is a well known activity in Bwindi national park where the visitors move around the communities in Bwindi to see how people are living and interact with them. Communities in Bwindi include the Batwa who are also called the pygmies and the Bakiga. The Batwa trail experience is carried out in Rushaga and Buhoma sector and they were hunters and gatherers that lived in the forests southern sector, therefore, the visitors learn their traditional hunting and gathering skills for a memorable experience.
Bird watching, this is an activity where the visitors move from one destination to another to spot different bird species. Bird watching in Bwindi takes place in Buhoma waterfall along the bamboo zone and Mubwindi swamp trail in Ruhija. Bwindi National Park is a home of about 350 birds including 23 endemics of the Albertine rift valley like the warbler and blue-headed sunbird and the common bird species include the red-headed bluebill, white-tailed flycatcher, African emerald cuckoo, common bulbul, long-crested eagle, mountain wagtail, yellow bishop, crowned hornbill, honeyguides, montane nightjar, white-headed wood hoopoe, handsome francolin, yellow streaked bulbul, northern puff back, northern doubled collared and many others.
Accommodation in Bwindi national park
This is the facility where the tourists will stay during their safari and Bwindi forest national park has a number of accommodation facilities that will give the tourists a comfortable and adventurous stay.
Bwindi Gorilla Camp, this was the first camp to be opened for gorilla tourism and has both single and double tents set among the trees. It is located in Buhoma village and takes 2km from the entrance; the camp is close to the Batwa village which gives the tourists an opportunity to see their way of living. It is home to the gorilla research clinic which is used to analyze gorilla data to help prevent the spread of diseases between the local population and the gorillas. It offers services like breakfast, different types of dishes and drinks and many others to the visitors.
Gorilla Resort Bwindi, is a luxurious safari camp which is located Buhoma by the side of the road and has a great view of Bwindi impenetrable national park. It connects well with the local surrounding because it was built using the local materials. It has around 8 self-contained private tents from each other which contain beds and washroom facilities. It also offers breakfast a four-course meal and drinks.
Nkuringo Gorilla Camp, the camp is situated in the south of Bwindi and has about 18 individual handcrafted cottages that offer meals, drinks, breakfast, and coffee shop, the camp is a good area for birding and community encounters. It gives a clear view of Bwindi national park, Virunga volcanoes and the great Albertine Rift Valley hence visitors like it because of its green environment. However, there are other accommodation facilities in Bwindi like the Gorilla Forest Camp, Mantana Camp, Nyundo Valley Hill Bandas, Gorilla Safari Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Ruhija Gorilla Safari lodge, Bushoma lodge, Lake Kitandara Bwindi Camp, Buhoma Homestead among others.
Best time to visit Bwindi forest national park
The park can be visited at any time of the year and the best time to visit is during the dry season when the vegetation is less thick and when there is less rainfall and this is from June to August and December to February. The rain increases from April to May and makes the trail difficult when trekking.
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