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Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a popular safari spot in Uganda, found in the southwest. It's named "impenetrable" because of its dense vegetation. Each day, tourists head out for gorilla trekking. Guides clear paths through the thick plants so trackers can find where the gorillas slept the night before. It feels like paradise under the sunlight filtering through the trees, free from the usual pollution.

In 1994, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest became a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's famous for its wide range of plants and animals, including half of the world's remaining mountain gorillas. The park covers 321 square kilometers, all filled with forests, some with bamboo and bushes. The terrain is steep, with slippery valleys, ridges, and hilltops.

The weather in Bwindi is cool due to the thick canopy. It's wise to bring warm clothes for evenings and long-sleeved shirts and trousers for trekking. To fully enjoy gorilla trekking or bird, butterfly, and shrub watching, you should be physically fit to navigate the terrain, which ranges from 1160 to 2607 meters above sea level.

Gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Gorilla group in Bwindi Impenetrable forest is divided into different trail heads where gorilla trekking tours happens. The gorillas habituated for tourism are in families based at different trailheads. When you choose to visit Bwindi, be sure to know which trailhead you are allocated before you book your hotel. After knowing your allocated trailhead then you can book the hotel in that location.

There are currently 22 gorilla families habituated for tourism in Bwindi impenetrable national park. The different sectors in Bwindi are; Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo.

  • Wildlife
  • Birding
  • Things to do
  • Access to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The parks is home to about 120 mammals’ species that are rarely seen as they hide in the thickets of the dense forest. These include the large mammals and the very small mammals. The animals of Bwindi forest include; Elephants, duikers, buffaloes, golden cats, bush pigs, giant forest hogs, black-fronted Duiker, yellow-backed duiker, clawless otter, side-striped jackal, civet, numerous bats and rodents etc.

Bwindi forest is home to 11 primate species which are; black-and-white colobus monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, De Brazza monkeys, Red-tailed Monkey, Blue Monkey, Potto, Demidoff’sGalago, Spectacled Galago, Baboons, Chimpanzee and the gentle giants of Bwindi – Mountain Gorillas.


Birds in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi impenetrable national park is home to about 350 species of birds. It is by the best place for birding in Uganda owing to its unique species of birds. The forest is home to 23 Albertine Rift endemics and 14 of which are recorded nowhere else in Uganda. The globally threatened species include, Grauer’s broadbill, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Shelley’s Crimson-wing. More species include; Handsome Francolin, Mountain-masked and Collared Apalis, White-bellied Robin Chat, Black billed Turaco, Fraser’s Eagle, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Purple-breasted, Blue-headed and Regal Sunbirds etc.

Birding in Bwindi happens mainly in the Mubwindi Swamp in Ruhija sector of the park, ‘The Neck’ a stretch of the forest joining Ruhija to the Buhoma sector and the Buhoma area especially on the waterfall trail.

Things to do

Things to do in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

When most people think of Bwindi Impenetrable national park, they think of mountain gorilla trekking/tracking, which is rightly so because it is the main attraction. However, Bwindi being heavily dense rainforest, it is home to many birds and animals and several other activities.

Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi national park

mountain gorillas ugandaBwindi is home to half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. Gorilla tracking is done daily after purchasing a gorilla-tracking permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. You are advised to book your permit at least 3 months prior to secure your day especially if you prefer a certain location. Only 8 individuals from 15 years of age are permitted to visit a gorilla family per day. You need to be in good health condition otherwise you will not track because humans and Gorillas can easily pass diseases to each other. You will be briefed by your guide way before tracking and advices to stay at least 8m from the gorillas, do not use flash photography and do not look directly in the eyes of the gorilla for an extended period of time. You need to wear long sleeved pants and shirts to avoid scratches as you trek through the forest, carry a rain poncho, seasoned boots, lots of water, lunch (sometimes it takes an entire day to locate them) and finally consider hiring a potter because the terrain can be difficult.

Bird watching in Bwindi national park

Bwindi forest is a prime Uganda birding spot and was named as Africa’s number one birding spot by Africa Bird Club. If you have limited time in Uganda and you must choose only one park for birding then, Bwindi should be your choice. It is easily accessible for birding with birding trails in the forest leading to different area including the waterfall trail. It is home to about 350 species of birds which include 23 Albertine Rift endemics and 14 of which are recorded nowhere else in Uganda. There are excellent site guides in the communities who are very knowledgeable about the birds in the area especially the endemics. These join you as you take your trip into the forest re-enforcing the team you will have started with on your trip.

Nature and waterfalls walks in Bwindi national park

nature walk in bwindiThere are various trails into the forest for your different interests. You have trails leading to beautiful waterfalls where you can dive in the water. You walk along with an armed Uganda wildlife ranger guide for your protection in case you meet a wild animal but also as a guide. The available trails; Buhoma – Nkuringo trail which takes 4 – 5 hours crossing through the national park. Rushura Hill walk – a trail through forest shared between Congo and Uganda. Muyanga waterfall walk, Ivi River Walk – 14 kms and takes about 7 hours. Muzubijiro Loop – 6km walk around the hill where you have chances of interacting with primates and birds.

Mountain Hiking and biking

Kigezi region where Bwindi impenetrable forest is located is a mountainous area with beautiful scenery. Most lodges have bikes you can rent per day to take on the special trails created in the community otherwise ask them for a project you can rent from.Ivi river trail from Buhoma park headquarters to Ivi river organized by ‘ride for a woman’.

Community walks and Cultural experiences

The community surrounding Bwindi forest is full with activities and cultural experiences for you. You can choose to take on the Batwa experience – a people that lived in the forest for many years. Here you will be to re-visit the forest with them and experience how they lived in the forest, how they co-existed with the gorillas and the other animals for years. The different walks include Buniga Forest nature walk in Nkuringo – a forest reserve adjacent to Bwindi impenetrable national park. Nyundo community Eco trails and King Bakyara’s waterfall trail. Tour the village Aquaponics project with Conservation through Public Health (CTPH). Buhoma community tours – areas of interest, handcraft shops, Batwa community, traditional healer, primary school and finally learn how bananas are used to make juice, beer and gin and taste.

Access to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Access to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

There are scheduled/ charter flights from Entebbe International Airport to Kihihi town connecting to Buhoma area or to Kisoro Airstrip, which connects to Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga. There are also flights from Kajjansi Airfield, which lies between Kampala and Entebbe.

Driving: From Kampala, the route depends on the trailhead you are visiting i.e. Kampala – Kabale – Ruhija OR Kampala – Ntungamo – Rukungiri – Kihihi – Buhoma/Nyondo OR Kampala – Kabale – Kisoro – Rushaga/Nkuringo.

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