Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

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Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of Uganda’s most popular safari destinations and is one of the most visited parks on any Uganda safari. The national park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda in the district of Kanungu. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is characterized by lush green thick forest thus its name impenetrable forest. Rangers have to pave a way through the thick forest during the gorilla trekking.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park covers an area of 321 square kilometers of pure forest, shrubs and bamboo. It was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994 and is home to the more than half of the world’s remaining gorillas in the wild. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in the western rift valley and offer scenic views of the tree covered hills and ridges.

Weather in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies at an altitude between 1100m-2600m and is chilly. Most of the lodges in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park have fireplaces to warm its clients and you are advised to carry warm clothes. Long sleeved shirts and trousers are recommended for those undertaking Uganda gorilla safaris in order to avoid scratches from shrubs during the gorilla trekking experience.  The amazing tree canopy creates cold conditions but still offer spectacular views of the tropical forest. Since the park is at a high altitude and in the rift valley, gorilla trekking needs a certain level of fitness to maneuver the terrain.

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has 4 allocated gorilla trekking sectors. These include; Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. All these sectors have habituated gorilla families that can be seen on your Uganda gorilla safari. As you plan for your gorilla trekking safari, you are advised to pick the right accommodation that suits your allocated sector. The park has 20 gorilla families that have habituated overtime for your Uganda safari experience.

Wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park

The national park is home to 120 mammals. Though rarely seen due to the dense forest, they include small and large animals. Wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include; Gorillas, Buffaloes, elephants, duikers, bush pigs, forest hogs, bats, side striped jackals, rodents, clawless otters and many more.

Primates in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The forest though is famous for its primates, the main one being the mountain gorillas. Other primates include; L’hoest’s monkeys, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, white and black colobus monkeys, olive baboons, De Brazza, chimpanzees and the spectacled Galago. All these can be seen on a nature walk or a gorilla trekking experience as you trek through the impenetrable forest.

Birds

The park is home to over 350 bird species. With its unique bird life, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the prime destinations for birding. Endemic species to the Albertine rift can be seen in the forest. Endangered bird species like the Grauer’s broadbill, Shelley’s crimson-wing and Chapin’s Flycatcher are found in this national park. Other bird species found in the Bwindi forest include; Black billed Turaco, Fraser’s eagle, handsome franklin, western bronze-naped pigeon, regal sunbirds and many more. The Mubwindi swamp found in the Ruhija sector and Buhoma sector are the main areas where birding in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is done.

Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Gorilla trekking In Bwindi

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Gorilla trekking is the main safari activity that is done in Bwindi National Park. With half of the world’s mountain gorillas, you are sure to have epic encounters on your Uganda gorilla trekking safari. Gorilla trekking permits are obtained at the Uganda wildlife authorities through your tour operators. A group of only 8 people are allowed to trek a gorilla family each day. It’s highly advisable to book your gorilla permits at least 3 months before your Uganda gorilla safari. You are required to be over 15 years of age and in good health. Since these primates have close DNA with humans, we can easily pass on diseases to them endangering their lives.

Before you set off for your gorilla trekking experience, the rangers will brief you on the procedures of gorilla trekking. These include; Keeping a distance of at least 8 meters from the gorillas, not looking directly into the gorilla’s eyes (they might take it as a sign of aggression), not using flash photography, carrying bottled water and other expectations.

Bird watching

The forest is a haven for bird lovers. With over 350 bird species, you will encounter amazing bird species, some of which are endemic to the Albertine rift. The clear birding trails lead into the forest and the waterfall trail. Of the 23 endemic bird species in the Park, 14 of them are only recorded here in Uganda. The local guides are knowledgeable and will lead you to the best birding spots.

Nature and waterfalls walks

Nature walks in Bwindi see you exploring more of the forest. On these nature walks in Bwindi, you will encounter different species of wildlife and birds. With an armed ranger and guide, you are sure of your safety. The Buhoma-Nkuringo trail crosses through the park and takes between 4-5 hours depending on your fitness. The Muzubijiro loop trail takes you around the hill and is a 6km walk. Interactions with birds and primates are a common occurrence. The Rushura hill walk goes through the forest shared by Uganda and Congo. The beautiful Muyanga waterfall walk and Ivi river walk is 14km long and takes about 7 hours.

Mountain Hiking and biking

Bwindi National Park is located at a high altitude and offers amazing opportunities to hike or ride your mountain bike after your gorilla trekking. Lodges have rental bikes that can be hired for the day. Well maintained trails in the community provide a perfect opportunity to enjoy your cycling in Uganda.

Community walks and Cultural experiences

After your gorilla trekking safari, you can choose to visit the local communities and interact with the local people. Better yet, you can visit the indigenous people the Batwa. These were local people who were relocated into communities after the park was formed. On this cultural tour, you will learn about their way of life through their music and dance, food and stories.

How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Scheduled flights depart Entebbe international airport to Kihihi town and Kisoro. Here, you will be driven to your gorilla trekking sector. Kajjansi airfield also has flights from Kampala to Kisoro or Kihihi town.

Driving is another way to get to Bwindi National Park. Your gorilla trekking sector will determine your route. If you are trekking in Ruhija, you can drive through Mbarara-Kabale-Ruhija or Kampala-Ntungamo-Rukungiri-Kihihi and Buhoma. If you are coming from Queen Elizabeth national park, you can use Ishasha-Kihihi-Buhoma.