Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is situated in the southwestern part of Uganda. It is a renowned for mountain gorilla tracking. Approximately 340 of the surviving  world mountain gorilla population are found in this forest. Bwindi forest National Park covers a total land expanse of 331 sq km, and supports an assortment of jumbled vegetation, steep landscape, high slippery valleys, drought ridges and thick forest with under growth vegetation. People on this Uganda safari holiday in this park are recommended to carry warm clothing plus strong hiking boots particularly for the cold temperatures, mainly in June and July and also to enable you move along the slippery paths. The Bwindi Impenetrable forest National Park experiences 2 rain seasons; the long rains are received starting in September up to November while the short rains are received starting in March up to May.

Mountain gorilla tracking is rather tiresome since it may at times requires hiking for long distances along the damp steep slopes of this dense forest. Bwindi has 4 groups of mountain gorilla open for tourism and these include; Nkuringo, Habinyanja, Rushegura and Mubare. Even though  tourists are allowed to visit this park all year round, only 8 members are permitted to each each of these gorilla families each day. A 3 day gorilla safari to Bwindi should just serve the purpose, although some would like to combine a trek with lake Bunyonyi or  Gorillas and Wildlife on 5 days Safari in Uganda. The time you will spend with the primates is restricted to just one hour and each trekker should have a valid gorilla trekking permit. You will be divided into groups of 8 and then you ranger guide will lead you out in the forest. Also each and every visitor must abide by the gorilla tracking rules plus regulation for the safety of the gorillas and the trackers too. The primary threats to the gorillas are: poaching, habitat loss as well as diseases.

How to reach Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Bwindi forest can be accessed from Queen Elizabeth National Park to the northern just 2 to 3 hours drive, from Kampala through Mbarara about 6 to 8 hours drive or from Kabale town to the southern just 1 to 2 hours. These roads then converge at Butogota, just 17 kilometers from the Buhoma entrance-gate. A 4×4 vehicle is needed through the rainy months. A daily bus service leaves Kampala for Butogota via Rukungiri and Kihiihi.

Travelers can choose to fly from Entebbe or from Kampala at Kajansi airfield to the up to date tarmac airstrip found at Kisoro. Additionally Planes may as well be chartered to the Savannah or the grass Kayonza airstrips.

Bwindi is actually well served by 3 airfields at Kihiihi plus Kayonza for the northern area in addition to Nyakabande found in Kisoro for people going to track mountain gorillas within the southern area (Mishaya, Nshongi plus Nkuringo).

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

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Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is home to more than half of the entire world’s mountain gorilla population and as such, mountain gorilla trekking is the specialty of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. Gorilla trekking in Bwindi starts with briefing at the park headquarters at 8:00AM by the ranger guide and allocation of gorilla families to visit; each gorilla group / family is visited by a maximum of 8 people on a particular day and the forest has more than 12 groups at the moment but in different locations.

After briefing, you then head into the forest with your guide ahead of you and at hand to clear the trail. The trek can last anywhere between 2 to 8 hours depending on the movement of the gorillas but usually, park rangers will enter the forest early and try to track the gorillas from the point where they were last seen the previous day. After finding the gorillas, you will be allowed up to a maximum of 1 hour to see and photograph them. When your hour is done, you enjoy your lunch pack and make your way out of the forest and back to the starting point to receive your gorilla trekking certificate to confirm your successful participation in Gorilla trekking in Bwindi.

Gorilla Habituation Experience

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National ParkBesides the ordinary Gorilla trekking which is an exciting adventure itself, Gorilla habituation experience is mind blowing! Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is the only place in Africa where you can spend 4 hours with a gorilla family in its natural habitat. You get to spend time alongside researchers as they prepare a wild gorilla group for human interaction thus spending more hours observing and learning more about the mountain gorilla lifestyle!

You can fly into Kigali Rwanda and 3 hours later be in the Rushaga Region of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.  You have the choice of budget, moderate and upmarket lodging and can stay either in Rushaga or scenic Nkuringo area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Hiking / Nature Walks in Impenetrable Forest National Park

There are six nature trails found in Buhoma for those looking to explore the “impenetrable forest” on guided nature walks. The trails take different directions and expose the visitor to a number of sites including waterfalls, primate encounters, mountain views, tranquil nature and impressive birdlife. Muyanga Waterfall Walk departs from Buhoma along the River Ivi-Nkuringo trail and culminates in the sensational sight of the falls plummeting 33 meters.
Rushura Hill Walk passes through one forest shared by two countries. On a clear day you can view Lakes Edward and George and the Rwenzori Mountains as well as the conical peaks of the Virunga Volcanoes.
Muzubijiro Loop is a 6km walk around a hill, where you will encounter primates and birds and enjoy a view of the Virungas.

The Ivi River Walk is 14km and takes around seven hours. The trail passes a place known as Mukempunu – meaning “a place of pigs” – where wild pigs can often be found. The Buhoma-Nkuringo Trail takes three to four hours, and crosses right through the park, connecting the two villages and offering impressive views of the misty hillsides as you ascend the hills towards Nkuringo. You can leave your luggage with your driver, who will meet you at the other side. This trail can also be completed as part of the Ivi River Walk.

The Habinyanja (Railegh) Trail takes 4-6hrs. After crossing the Munyaga River, it takes in a fairly steep ascent of the Habigorogoro and Riyovi Ridge overlooking Buhoma River. Found along this trail is the legendary “African Corner” named after a rock piece depicting a map of Africa. Following the steep ascent, keen hikers can enjoy a more relaxed gentle slope to the mighty Habinyanja swamp. Birders on this trail should watch out for the Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Black Duck and Black Bee Eaters, among others

The Batwa Forest Experience

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National ParkThe Batwa were the original people of the forest, they were here for thousands of years before the Bantu People, the Cultivators of the Land arrived. The Batwa People – are pygmies – were hunter-gatherers and lived in the forests of Southwest Uganda and beyond. They left a small ecological footprint on the forest and lived in harmony with nature.  You can visit the forest (actually outside of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest) with the Batwa People and learn of their traditional ways of hunting and gathering. The Batwa Experience takes place in the Buhoma area.

Cycling / Mountain Biking in Kisoro

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National ParkThe Hike through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest can be one day or longer hike from the north of Bwindi to the South – called Nkuringo- there one can stay overnight and continue the next day down to scenic Lake Mutanda where you paddle across in a wooden dugout and continue to the town of Kisoro.

This is the most popular hike along two trails of Bwindi – there are however other trails and nature walks, most from easy to moderate in and near the Forest that can be explored on foot and requiring from an hour to all day long.

Bird watching in Bwindi Forest

For bird lovers or anyone interested in a birding safari in Uganda, Bwindi is a true birder’s haven with 350 species recorded, including 23 endemics which is equivalent to 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. Birding in Bwindi takes place along 4 major trails; the main trail, the Buhoma Waterfall Trail and along the bamboo zone and Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija

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