Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Mountain Gorillas in
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park covers an area of 321 square kilometers and is located in the southwestern part Uganda straddling at an altitude form 1.160 m to 2.607m at the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley. Bwindi is a very thick rain forest-dubbed the impenetrable forest for its various steep ridges and valleys which are sometimes slippery because of the rain forest and also the very growing vegetation that is usually thick and its terrain is mostly challenging to walk through.
Bwindi National park is Uganda`s thickest park that most people would be expected to resist from visiting the area but the whole truth is that Bwindi National park is one of Uganda`s most visited national parks simply because it is among the famous and most rewarding biological diverse forests on the African continent. The name “Bwindi” was derived from the local word “Mubwindi” which means from the “dark place” which the native would say referring to the impenetrable swamp located in the south eastern side of Bwindi national park.
- Best visited in dry season
- Uganda, East Africa
- Mainly gorillas to see
- Can rain any time
- Good fitness level required
- Gorilla permit US$700
Tourist Attractions in Bwindi
On record, Uganda is home to the largest number of the critically endangered and most famous mountain gorillas in the world. The world is home to about 1063 mountain gorillas and Uganda is home to close to a half of the total of mountain gorillas. Majority of the mountain gorillas live in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park- close to 500 Mountain gorillas live in Bwindi Forest National Park.
About 11 species of primates are recorded in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park-such the mostly known mountain gorillas, Hoest’s, red-tailed and blue monkeys, olive baboons, black and white Columbus. Also, about 30 species of mammals dwell in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national Park such as the forest elephants, buffaloes and leopards have been seen in Bwindi forest but very hard to spot.
Bwindi forest national park is also a notable birding paradise with over 346 bird species and it contains 90% of the endemic birds of the Albertine Rift Valley that are very hard to spot from somewhere else in East Africa.
Other attractions include; over 200 species of butterflies, and 324 species of trees.
Tourist Activities in Bwindi
Gorilla trekking is the most famous activity that most people do upon visiting Bwindi National park. Mountain Gorilla trekking is one of the “go experience, come and tell” tourist activities in Uganda and Africa as a continent. Bwindi National park has a total of 17 habituated groups of mountain gorillas each group living together as a family composed of the parents, children and relatives all under one leadership of the giant and older male – the silverback (a male gorilla which has grown grey – silver hair on its back). Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done every day of the week and only a group of 8 people is allowed to visit a gorilla family every day (each gorilla family is visited at most once every day) and upon sight of the gorilla family, the visitors are allowed to spend strictly one hour watching the gorillas and must also respect the 7meter rule which requires one keep at least 7meters away from the mountain gorilla. All these and other regulations are done to protect and conserve these critically endangered mountain gorillas.
Also through the process of gorilla trekking in the park, tourists have chances of sighting primates, various species of butterflies.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is also an ideal destination for birders with over 346 birders.
Native Community Visits
Community visit is another tourism activity that many tourists from all over the world have loved. The Batwa culture is the most visited ethnic group of people. The Batwa are one of the different tribes of Uganda. They are the initial people who have lived in harmony together with the gorillas and other natural resources in Bwindi forest for centuries. They were later evicted from the forest when the Uganda government decided to protect the forest and form the current Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This was done to protect the endangered mountain gorillas. The Batwa are now settling along the outskirts of Bwindi National park. They are very rich in knowledge of mountain gorilla and Bwindi forest at large and are also a very unique culture in the history of Uganda and Africa at large. The most important thing that they are ever willing to share their culture with the tourists and the Uganda wildlife authority together with other support organisations have ensured that the lives of the people who lived in Bwindi Forest improve by giving back 20% of the revenues earned as a result of tourism from Bwindi forest national park.
Accommodation in Bwindi
There are many accommodation facilities in and around Bwindi impenetrable national park and in various categories from luxury to midrange to budge and camping. A lust of accommodation facilities in Bwindi impenetrable national park include;
Luxury accommodation facilities; Trackers Safari Lodge, Sanctuary Gorilla forest Camp, Buhoma Lodge, Volcanoes Bwindi Lode, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Mahogany Springs Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lode, Ruhija Lodge, Lake Kitandara tented camp, Lake Murehe Safari Lodge and Gorilla Safari Lodge among others
Midrange accommodation facilities include; silverback lodge, Gorilla Mist Camp, Engagi Safari lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Safari Lodge, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, The Haven Buhoma lodge, Gorilla Valley lodge among others.
Budget accommodation facilities include; Buhoma community Rest Camp, The Gorilla Rest, Gorilla Conservation Camp, Trekkers Tavern Cottages, Eco Marvels Gorilla Lodge, The Crested Crane Bwindi Hotel, Gift of Nature Lodge, Bwindi Forest Safari Cottages and Rushaga Gorilla Camp among others.
There are various ways through which one can reach Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. From Kabale, it is about 1-2 hours to reach Bwindi national park, it is also about 2-3 hours’ drive northwards from Queen Elizabeth National Park to Bwindi Impenetrable National park. For those coming from Kampala, the drive through Mbarara is a bout 7-8 hours. All the road routes to Bwindi National Park meet at Butogota which is approximately 17km away from the entrance gate. We recommend that you use a 4×4 wheel vehicle because the roads are not in the best condition especially during the rainy season.
Use of Public means; there are Busses that set off from Kampala via Rukungirir and kihihi to Butogota trading center. Here you can hire a matatu from Butogota to Buhoma park entrance gate.
Air transport: There are two main airstrips in Bwindi national Park-mainly Kihihi airstrip and Kisoro airstrip. For those who plan to visit Nkuringo and Rushaga regions of Bwindi impenetrable national park, a flight to Kisoro airstrip is the best option for you and those intending to visit Buhoma or Ruhija sectors, Kihihi airstrip is the best option for you.
Other airstrips in Bwindi National park include; Kayonza airstrip Savannah and Nyakabande in Kisoro.
Aerolink is an airline Company and this offers daily scheduled flights both morning and afternoon from Entebbe to Bwindi and Kisoro airstrips and return. Other domestic airline companies like KEA also offer chartered flight to the airstrips in Bwindi national park.