Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a Unesco World Heritage, famously known as the leading world’s population of Mountain Gorillas, this is an ideal spot for nature lovers to step in the jungle and beat the odds as you search through the compacted jungle tracking for the mountain gorillas. This national park protects around 40% of the world’s mountain gorilla population and has several habituated groups for you to indulge with on your Uganda Gorilla trekking Safari or a habituation tour in Uganda. The forest is also a bird-watcher’s paradise with 350 species recorded, including many Albertine Rift endemics.
Bwindi is 331 square kilometers, located in South Western Uganda, on the edge of the western rift valley, shared by Kabale, Rukungiri and Kisoro Districts. Bwindi’s key tourist attractions are absolutely the Mountain Gorillas. The gorillas have been habituated since April 1993. Currently there are four areas to track gorillas from in Bwindi and these include; Rushaga, Nkuringo in the southern par., Ruhija and Buhoma in the northern part. Each sector has different gorilla groups to be tracked. Permits are sold at Uganda Wildlife Head Quarters in Kampala for each of the mountain gorilla groups. It’s wise to book 3months in advance to be sure the requested dates are available. 8 persons only can visit a given gorilla family per day. In Uganda while on Uganda Gorilla Safaris, 10 families have been adapted in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, and so can host 80 persons tracking the mountain gorillas on any day. Gorilla Tracking can be actually challenging, so go prepared. Take time to read the Gorilla Rules before your trip.
The forest is commonly called an African jungle because of its thick forests which give a feeling of paradise and it’s also a home to many gorilla families that gives them comfort to stay. The park carries the biggest number of mountain gorillas in the world with 51% (459) out of 1063.
Brief history about the Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was gazetted in 1991 and later in 1994, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its magnetic vegetation. The park cover over 321 squired kilometers in that the biggest land is covered by the forest and some places are covered with bamboo and shrubs.
Gorilla Families in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park
Bwindi forest is divided into different trailheads where gorilla trekking tours are done and the gorilla families are based at different trailheads or gorilla sectors, according to their families. At the moment, Bwindi forest park has over 20 gorilla families located on different trailheads. The following are the trailheads and the gorilla families;
- Buhoma Sector Gorilla families: Mubare Family, Rushegura Family, Habinyanja Family, Katwe Family.
- Ruhija Sector Gorilla families: Bitukura Family, Kyagurira A Family, Kyangurira B Mukiza Family, Oruzuga Family.
- Rushaga Sector Gorilla families: Kutu Family, Nshongi Family, Mishaya Family, Kahugye Family, Mucunguzi Family, Bikyingi Family, Rwigi Family Bweza Family.
- Nkuringo Sector Gorilla families: Christmas Family, Bushoho Family
NB: the four trailheads sections are found in the following places; Buhoma is found in the northern part of Bwindi and Ruhiji is located in the northeastern part of Bwindi and Rushaga and Nkuringo are located in the southern part of Bwindi and they are also close to Queen Elizabeth National Park which is easy to combine gorilla trekking for the game viewers when trekking at these trailheads.
Wildlife in the Park
Bwindi Impenetrable national park is home to a variety of mammal species that normally hide in the forest and are rarely seen. These are; Elephants, Duikers, Buffalos, Golden Cats, Bush Pigs, Giant Forest Hogs, Black-Fronted Duiker, Yellow-Backed Duiker, Clawless Otter, Side-Striped Jackal, Civet, Numerous Bats, Rodents, and many others
The forest is also home to 11 primate species that include; Black and White Colobus Monkey, L’Hoest’s Monkeys, De Brazza Monkeys, Red-Tailde Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, Chimpanzees, Potto, Demidoff’sgalago, Spectacled Galago, Baboons and Mountain Gorillas.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park is home to over 300 bird species and it’s among the best places for birding in the whole country. The park has the following bird species; Regal Sunbird, Rwenzori Apalis, Handsome Francolin, African Wood Old, Rwenzori Nightjar, Bar-Tailed Trogon, Black Bee-Eater, Western Green Tinkerbird, Dwarf Honeyguide, African Green Broadbill, and many more birds.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park is home to over 200 butterfly species that include; the African giant swallowtail, cream-banded swallowtail, and many more
Other species found in Bwindi impenetrable national park
The park also has other species like 14 snake species, 14 lizard species, amphibian species, and the 8 Albertine rift endemics.
Activities done in Bwindi impenetrable national park
Bwindi has the biggest number of mountain gorillas worldwide. This activity is done on a daily basis once a permit is purchased from the Uganda wildlife authority or by your tour guide. It’s advisable to book the gorilla tracking permit early before arriving at the park and children below 15 years are not allowed to participate in this activity. Domestic animals are not allowed at the park for this activity. A group of 8 people is the biggest number of people required at once. Whoever goes for this activity needs to be in very good condition because the mountain gorilla can easily pass on diseases to humans.
Bwindi Park is one of the best places to spot birds and the African Bird Club named it “Africa’s number one bird spot” which is currently witnessed by whoever comes around for this activity. It’s home to over 300 bird species which include 23 Albertine rift endemics and 14 of which are recorded nowhere else in Uganda but only at this park. You wouldn’t want to miss out on seeing beautiful birds at the park.
Nature and waterfall walks
These walks are organized on a daily basis mainly morning hours and they usually take over 4-6 hours. Nature walks are advised for people above 15 years to participate and they require a healthy person too. The movements are made in the thick forest, besides the Ivi River which is over 14 km and that alone can take 7 hours. This is done with a tour guide just in case you find wild animals on the way for protection. You get to see a lot of gorilla families and other wildings like Hippos, Lions, and many others.
Hiking and Biking
This is usually done at the beautiful mountains found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and bikes are usually found at the lodges or hotels for rent. This activity is organized on a daily basis and it can take the whole day compared to your budget. It is guided by a tour guide to get lost in the thick forest.
How to go to Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest Park
Driving from Kampala to Bwindi is over 478 kilometers and that can take roughly 6-7 hours to drive by road. It’s usually done by drones, cars, and tour cars. The journey also depends on the trailhead you visiting i.e. Kampala – Ruhiji or Kampala –Ntungamo – Rukungir – Kihihi – Buhoma/Nyondo or Kampala – Kabale – Kisoro – Rushanga/Nkuringo. These can take extra time to reach your destination.
At Entebbe international airport, flights are usually organized on a daily basis and from Entebbe to a nearby aircraft takes roughly an hour to Kihihi town which connects to the Buhoma area. Kisoro aircraft connects you to Ruhija, Nkuringo, and Rushaga. Tourists that are already in Kampala can use Kajansi aircraft because it’s nearer compared to Entebbe international airport. This also takes over an hour to reach the nearby aircraft.
Accommodation facilities at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
When it comes to accommodation, the park has a variety of rooms for all kinds according to your budget. Restaurants and bars are also there for meals and leisure that will suit your needs. The park is always there to welcome a comfortable stay and Uganda Gorilla safaris.