Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, one of the most visited national parks in Uganda, known for harboring half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. Its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of plants. More famously, this “impenetrable forest” also protects an estimated 400 mountain gorillas – roughly half of the world’s population, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked. 14 habituated mountain gorilla groups are open to tourism in four different sectors of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and the Nkuringo all under the management of Uganda Wildlife Authority. The park is a sanctuary for colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, and many birds such as hornbills and turacos.
The park is part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and is situated along the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) border next to the Virunga National Park and on the edge of the Albertine Rift. Composed of 331 square kilometers (128 sq mi) of both montane and lowland forest, it is accessible only on foot. BINP is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization-designated World Heritage Site
This biologically diverse region also provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes. There are around 350 species of birds hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics. With the great number of birds in this area, this has made bird watching another interesting activity beside the gorilla trekking which is the famous activity here.
Gorilla tracking became a tourist activity in April 1993, and the park became a popular tourist destination. Attracting many tourists to the country to come a trek the mountain gorilla, which is one of the unique activities, that was only done in Uganda by then, when Rwanda and Congo has insecurity issues and trekking was impossible.
The park is inhabited by about 340 individual mountain gorillas, known as the Bwindi population, which makes up almost half of all the mountain gorillas in the world: 234 .The rest of the worldwide mountain gorilla population is in the nearby Virunga Mountains. A 2006 census of the mountain gorilla population in the park showed that its numbers had increased modestly from an estimated 300 individuals in 1997 to 320 individuals in 2002 to 340 individuals in 2006. Disease and habitat loss are the greatest threat to the gorillas. Poaching is also a threat.
Mountain gorillas are an endangered species, with an estimated total population of about 650 individuals. There are no mountain gorillas in captivity. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, mountain gorillas were captured to begin a population of them in captive facilities. No baby gorillas survived in captivity and no mountain gorillas are known of that are currently in captivity.
The gorilla permits cost $700 per person, and is booked 2 months in advance, for high season you need to book more earlier so as to be able to secure the permits on the trekking dates you intend. You can email our offices so as to secure for you a gorilla permit, as part of your gorilla package to Uganda.
What to Do.
Lot of activities are available in Bwindi to keep you busy during your stay here.
This is the major touristic activity here. This is the main attraction and brings thousands and thousands of tourists to visit this great park. The gorilla trekking ranges from 3 hours to 8 hours, can even take full day. You can go for normal trekking or full day trekking, which is known as gorilla habituation. You’re briefed by park officials and rangers before trekking.
Being a birding paradise, lots of birds can be sited in the park and nearby community surroundings. The varied habitats of Uganda’s oldest forest mean it is the ideal habitat for a variety of birds, with 350 species recorded, including 23 endemics (90% of all Albertine Rift endemics) such as the Short-tailed Warbler and Blue-headed Sunbird as well as seven IUCN red data listed species.
You can decide to exercise before or after gorilla trekking by taking a bike tour around the park area. Mountain biking follows a well-maintained trail from the park headquarters at Buhoma to the Ivi River. Along this 13km trail you may see wildlife such as bushbucks, black-and-white colobus and red-tailed monkeys.
Number of waterfalls do exist within the park, you can take a nature walk hike to visit these amazing waterfalls as part of stretching after gorilla trekking experience.
Local community encounter.
Explore the culture of the local Bakiga, Bafumbira and Batwa communities with village walks, blacksmith visits, craft shops and vibrant dances – all against the astounding backdrop of the forest-covered hills of Bwindi.
You can decide to take a boat ride in one of the lakes such as Bunyonyi, Mulehe or Mutanda to enjoy the stunning view of this great lakes as they are also a bird watching sites. A boat ride in a local canoe is worth an exceptional experience during your gorilla safari. Get to interact with the locals and listen to traditional stories as you take an eye on the islands.
Where to stay.
The neighboring sector of Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija and Nkuringo both have an impressive array of luxury lodges, rustic bandas and budget campsites, as well as restaurants, craft stalls and guiding services. All budgets are available, you have not to worry for where to sleep You can as well sleep as far as Kisoro and travel the next morning for trekking.
For more information on accommodation option, please do not hesitate to reach our office on email: [email protected] , you can well make a phone call: +250788439357
By Road : Bwindi can be reached from Queen Elizabeth National Park to the north (2-3 hours), from Kabale to the south (1-2 hours), or from Kampala via Mbarara (8 – 10 hours). The roads meet at Butogota, 17km from the Buhoma entrance gate. A 4WD safari vehicle is necessary during the rainy season as the water from the hilc sloping to the valleys may cross over the roads.
A daily bus service leaves Kampala for Butogota via Rukungiri and Kihiihi. A matatu (public minibus), hire car or boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) can be taken from Butogota to the park entrance gate at Buhoma.
By Air : Travelers can fly from Entebbe or Kampala (Kajjansi airfield) to the modern tarmac airstrip at Kisoro or Kihihi. Planes can also be chartered to the grass Kayonza or Savannah airstrips.
Bwindi is well served by three airfields at Kayonza and Kihiihi for the northern sector and Nyakabande in Kisoro for those going to track gorillas in the southern sector (Nkuringo, Nshongi and Mishaya).
From Kigali – Rwanda
It is very easier to travel to Bwindi through Kigali airport. The driving time from Kigali to Bwindi is just roughly 4 hours. We advise our clients to use Kigali for easy transfer at comfort, with less time seated in the car than using Kampala long route. Those trekking at Rushaga, it is easy to transfer via Cyanika border to Rushaga with a visit to twin lakes in Rwanda. For Buhoma, using Gatuna border is quite easier to reach Buhoma. Reaching Bwindi via Kigali gives you an added advantage of visiting two countries, visiting the Kigali genocide memorial ground, Kigali city tour and twin lakes. You can however extend your safari and visit some of the Rwanda’s attractions in a short day.
For more information about Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, kindly contact our office by email: [email protected], you can well make a phone call: +250788439357