Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a habitat for the endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda. Bwindi, found in south western Uganda is part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest situated along the Democratic Republic of Congo border next to the Virunga National Park and the western Great Rift Valley periphery. Bwindi National Park comprises of 331 square kilometres of jungle forests which has both montane and lowland forest accessible only on foot. Bwindi, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Uganda has one of the richest ecosystems in Africa plus varieties of animal and bird species.
Bwindi together with Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, are the only places for mountain gorillas in Uganda. And gorilla trekking is the major activity at both parks. It is estimated that the Bwindi has about half the number of mountain gorillas remaining in the world today. Approximately 1000 gorillas live in the four gorilla parks of Bwindi plus Mgahinga in Uganda and Volcanoes and Virunga National Park in Rwanda and Congo respectively.
The park is a habitat for some 120 species of mammals, 346 species of birds, 202 species of butterflies, 163 species of trees, 100 species of ferns, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos and numerous endangered species. In particular the area shares in the high levels of endemism of the Albertine Rift. The park is a place of safety for gorillas, colobus monkeys, chimpanzees and many birds like horn-bills and turacos. There are 19 habituated Mountain Gorilla groups open to tourism. The gorilla families are spread across the four trekking regions of Bwindi. To trek gorillas in Uganda, there are set rules and regulations visitors must follow to ensure safety for both humans and animals. The biologically diverse park derives its names from the local language ‘Bwindi’ (dark place) which defines the impenetrable nature of its thick forests.
Bwindi National Park Highlights:-
- About Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
- Gorilla Trekking Sectors of Bwindi National Park
- Bwindi Gorilla Families
- Gorilla Habituation Experience in Bwindi
- Habituating Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi
- Bwindi Gorilla Permits
- Other Tourist Activities in Bwindi National Park
- Accessing Bwindi Forest
- Accommodation Facilities Around Bwindi
Gorilla Trekking Sectors of Bwindi Forest
Bwindi is made up of four gorilla trekking regions where each has gorilla families found there. These regions include Buhoma Sector in the north, Ruhija Sector in the east plus Nkuringo and Rushaga Sectors in the south of the impenetrable forest.
Animal Species in the Park:-
– Mountain Gorillas, it’s a home for over 360 gorilla beringei*, a half of the total remaining world gorilla population.
– Monkey i.e. Hoest’s, red-tailed and blue monkey, black and white colobus,
– Olive baboon.
– Over 346 species of birds registered (Bwindi contains 90% of all Albertine Rift endemics.
– 200 of butterflies.
– Mammals like buffaloes, leopards, elephants and many more.
Activities in Bwindi
Mountain Gorilla Trekking
There is mainly gorilla trekking to the numerous families of Gorilla gorilla beringei. Bwindi National Park gorillas are organized now in several groups that can be visited by tourists. Current information about the gorillas in Uganda can be got from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Headquarters or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park management. Bwindi Gorilla tracking is a bit tiresome, meaning physical fitness is an essential necessity. Usually gorilla tracking runs from 8:30 am local Ugandan time up to late hours of the day. About 8 permits are sold on a daily basis for each of these groups at UWA offices. So it’s better to book three months in advance to ensure proper safari planning. For environmental and animal safety reasons, visits to the gorillas are controlled.
It’s advisable to come with the following for tracking gorillas.
(a) Hiking boots- ankle level boots are ok but make sure it is something handy.
(b) Video- filming is allowed in the parks though not outside the park
(c) Rain Coat
(e) A pair of binoculars if you are a keen bird watcher.
(f) A warm cardigan
(g) Thick trousers and a long sleeved top are ideal for tracking.
(h) Waterproof container for their cameras
(i) If you prefer wearing a hat, a baseball cap is recommended.
Bwindi is a hub for those needing to watch birds. Hiking trails are open to people to sight birds, butterflies, primates and trees along the Munyaga, Waterfall, Rushura, River Ivi, Mu bwindi swamp nature walks and Bamboo.
There are also a cultural walk to Buhoma village community for viewing traditional homestead, the healer, the banana brewing exercise, traditional handicraft and cultural performances.
One can watch up to 150 species in a day especially at Buhoma and Ruhija. Define what you need to enable proper arrangements in time for the whole day. Bwindi has over 350 birds’ species, representing a 90% of all Albertine rift Endemics which include:-
- Short tailed Warbler.
2. Yellow-eyed black Flycatcher,
3. Bar-tailed Trogon
4. Kivu Ground Thrush, Dusky Crimsonwing,
5. White-tailed Blue Monarch
6. Rusty-faced woodland Warbler,
7. Wilcock’s Honey-guide,
8. Gruer’s Rush Warbler and many more.
All these bird species are very rare in the Great Lakes Region at large. A golden chance to watch them is at Bwindi.
The Munyanga River Trail
Munyanga river trail is an interesting short walk for tourist with limited time at their disposal. Interesting to see here are mainly birds and primates of the forest edge. The wonderful waterfall trail provides an attractive feature of the forest with a profusion of tree ferns, epithetic ferns, orchids and Bwindi’s colorful array of butterflies. This trail gives a clear picture and comfort of a true tropical rain forest.
When you spend between 2 to 4 days in the park, there are 4 interesting hiking trails. There is a chance to see and learn about primates, various rare bird species, butterflies, trees, plants and other organisms on all the four trails. When you are with a guide, who is a must on the tour, you get a comprehensive learning of how park’s system operates. The guides understand well the primatology, ornithology and botany of the park.
The Ruizi River Trail
It’s the longest of the trail and takes a full day to accomplish. It’s always good for bird watchers. Visitors with their own 4XWD vehicles transport should consider crossing the rugged centre of the park through Ruhija. This transect affords the visitor with Uganda’s finest vistas of deep undisturbed forests. While on this Uganda safari, watch out for duikers, primates and both forest and grassland bird species. In Ruhija, visitors can take the three-hour scenery packed hike to the Mubwindi swamp. One can also walk conveniently to the Bamboo zone.
The Rushura Trail
This trail is very enjoyably because it commands an expansive view across the western rift valley floor. To the west, Congo’s Parc Nationale des Virungas provides spectacular scenery of clear Lake Edward and the Rwenzori Mountain.
The Muzabajiro Trail
Muzabiro Trail gives a comfortable breath taking spectacular scenery of Bwindi Forest, Western Rift Valley and the Virungas. While on your way, you will view a lot prehistoric tree ferns. When you reach the top of this trail, you will realize it is a wonderful site for a picnic lunch.
The Bamboo Trail
This one is among the areas of the highest diversity in the park and its trail offers 14 vegetation types. When at the top of this trail, you are treated to an expansive sight of the clear-water Lake Bunyonyi and the thick Mafuga Forest.
The evenings are usually characterized by traditional dance performances by local tropes especially women groups. And money raised from these performances is directed towards improve the lives of the people/ locals who live around the park.
Accommodation in Bwindi I
Bwindi is blessed with a number of affordable lodge facilities of almost all class of people.
Lodges around Buhoma Sector of Bwindi
- Buhoma Community Rest Camp
- Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp
- Lake Kitandara Bwindi Camp
- Buhoma Lodge
- CTPH Gorilla Conservation Camp
- Silverback Lodge
- Volcanoes Safaris Bwindi Lodge
- Engagi lodge
- Gorilla Resort
- Mahogany springs camp
- Bwindi Guest House
- Bwindi View Bandas
- Eco Marvels Gorilla Resort
- Gorilla Friends Lodge
- Jungle View Lodge
- Ride 4 a Woman
- Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge
- Ruhija Gorilla Mist Camp
- Trekkers Tavern cottages
- Gift of Nature Lodge
- Ruhija Gorilla Resort
- Ruhija Gorilla Friends Resort & Campsite
- Ruhija Community Rest Camp
Lodges in Rushaga Sector
- Gorilla Safari Lodge
- Chameleon Hill Lodge
On Lake Mutanda, close to Nkuringo and Rushaga. Suitable for those tracking the Rushaga, Misyaya, Nshongi,Nkuringo,Busingye,Kahungye and Nyakagezi of Mgahinga gorilla families.
- Rushaga Gorilla Camp
- Four Gorillas Lodge
- Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge
- Rushaga Gorilla Haven Lodge
- Gorilla Valley Lodge
- Nshongi Forest Camp
- Karungi Camp
Nkuringo Sector Lodges
- Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge
- Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge
- Nkuringo Gorilla Camp
- Nshongi Camp
- Gorilla Heights Lodge
- Chameleon Hill Lodge
Getting to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi National Park is about 520 Kilometres from Kampala city. Usually stronger vehicles like 4 Wheel Drive vehicles are recommended from Kampala or Kabale to the park. One can also do gorilla trekking in Uganda from Kigali to Bwindi Forest. This transfer takes about 4 hours to reach the park.
There are various routes:
- One can move from Kampala-Kabale (414 Kilometres, between 5-7 hours), then Kabale-Kanungu- Kanyantoorogo – Buhoma Park Headquarters, about 120 kms, a 3.5hour-drive.
2. Kampala-Kabale (414 Kms), then to Ruhija and finally to Buhoma which is 95 kilometres, a three-hour drive.
- There is an option of flying from Entebbe to Bwindi for gorilla trekking adventures. From Entebbe, you land at Kihihi airstrip Buhoma areas and then transfer to the park for a gorilla trekking encounter.
- Kigali via Cyanika border to southern Bwindi or Kigali through Gatuna border post to Kabale and then Bwindi. The option here is to fly into Rwanda and visit gorillas in Uganda.
Questions About Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Is Bwindi National Park Safe?