Located in southwestern Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is one of Uganda’s most spectacular conservation areas and it is about 530km from Kampala by road.
Bwindi was gazetted as a National Park in 1991 and declared a UNESCO Natural world heritage site in 1994. Its size is approximately 321km2.
The park is part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and is situated along the Democratic Republic of Congo border next to the Virunga National Park. It is on the edge of the western Great Rift Valley.
Bwindi in the local language means impenetrable, named so to best explain the impenetrable nature. This forest is best known for gorilla trekking, and within this verdant forest you will also find a deep swamp.
On the lighter side, this forest is not very impassable but you can track through to see the endangered mountain gorillas which live here. Other wildlife living within this forest include: chimpanzees and this is the only place where you will find the chimpanzees happily co-existing with the mountain gorillas.
Others animals include Vervet Monkeys, Olive Baboons, Red-Tailed Monkeys, the Pottos, Duiker Antelopes, Black & White Colobus Monkeys, Civets, L Hoests Monkeys, Blue, Bush babies, Bushpigs, Forest Hogs, Side-Striped Jackals, Clawless Otter, Golden Cats, Genets, bats to mention but a few.
There are an estimated 350 bird species and 310 species of trees several butterflies and the ferns. Among the wide variety of vegetation types including bamboo have made this habitat the best place to trekking gorillas.
The major activity in Bwindi is Gorilla tracking limited to a maximum of 8 people per particular gorilla group per day.
Gorillas have unique features and here are some of them;
Gorillas each have a unique nose print (humans too have unique fingerprints).
Gorillas have senses very similar to humans, including hearing, sight (they seem to be slightly nearsighted and to have color vision), smell, taste, and touch.
Gorillas’ hands are very much like ours; they have five fingers, including an opposable thumb. Their feet have five toes, including an opposable big toe. Gorillas can grasp things with both their hands and their feet.
The national park is a home to the highest population of mountain gorillas approximately 500, which is half of the world’s mountain gorillas. In total, there are thirty-six gorilla families thirteen of which have been habituated for trekking.
The habituated families include Mubare, Rushegura, and Habinyanja in Buhoma sector, Bitukura and Oruzogo in Ruhija sector, Mishaya, Nshongi, Bweza, Busingye and Kahungye families in Rushaga sector and Nkuringo in Nkuringo sector.
Located in the northern part of the park, it is the most visited sector of the national park compared to other sectors.
The ease of access from kabala town and kihihi airstrip make it the best part of Bwindi to visit. Buhoma is the first sector where gorilla tourism was first done when Mubare family (Bwindi’s oldest gorilla family) was habituated in 1992 just a year after the establishment of Bwindi forest into a national park.
Besides gorilla trekking, travelers to Buhoma can also enjoy community visits to Batwa pygmies and Bakiga communities at the edge of the forest, hiking trails which include Munyaga trail, Waterfall trail, Rushura trail, River lvi trail and Muzabajiro loop trail among others.
Buhoma is also good for bird watching being a shelter for several bird species.
manage strenuous hikes.
Located in Eastern part of Bwindi forest national park, Ruhija is home to Kyaguriro family, Bitukura family, and Oruzogo family all available for trekking.
You will be able to see other primates such as elephants and several monkey species on the trail.
Located in southern Bwindi, Nkuringo is a home to Nkuringo family. Sometimes the Bushaho gorilla family crosses from Rushaga to Nkuringo Nkuringo sector which is located on higher altitudes.
This sector is therefore recommended for the young travelers and the physically fit that can.
Located in southern part of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, Rushaga is a home to 5 gorilla families.
The habituated gorilla families include Busingye, Bweza, Nshongi, Mishaya and kahungye all available for trekking.
Rushaga also offers gorilla habituation and two families named Bushaho and Bikyingi.
Rushaga is also a home to Lake Mutanda presenting an opportunity for travelers to have a boat cruise at the lake.
There is no specific time for trekking but it varies depending on the location and movement of the mountain gorillas. It can take from 30 minutes to six hours but it’s a great experience despite the time spent.
After reaching the mountain gorillas, travelers are allowed to spend an hour with the mountain gorillas after which they descend back to the starting point.
A distance of seven meters recommended between the mountain gorillas and the travelers to avoid the spread of spread of human wildlife diseases.
It is recommended to put on long sleeved shirts, a heavy pair of trousers , jackets, rain jeers, hiking boots and hand gloves.
The reason for such kind of dressing is due to the unpredictable weather conditions in the national park.
It is a tropical rain forest meaning that rain can shower at any time of the day despite the season. More still, the grounds can be slippery especially when it rains and in the early mornings, hence an advantage for those trekkers with hiking boots and hand gloves.
The park is home to many bird species including the short-tailed Warbler and Blue-headed Sunbird.
The most easily seen include the African Emerald Cuckoo, Common Bulbul, African Blue and White-tailed Blue Flycatchers and Red-headed Bluebill.
Birding usually takes place along the main trail, the Buhoma Waterfall Trail and along the bamboo zone and Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija.
The best time to visit
The weather in this park is unpredictable since it is a tropical rain forest. Therefore, the dry season is best to trek the gorillas since the grounds is not slippery.
However, trekking can also be done in the wet season
In conclusion, a visit to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is a lifetime experience. Travelers should therefore visit the park with a great assurance of a life time experience.
It is good practice to know enough about a destination before travelling to it, this is why Friendly Gorillas Safaris has taken the time to avail to you the information about Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.