Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: The famous mountain gorilla trekking safari destination
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in southwestern Uganda just on the edge of the Albertine Rift which is at a border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is shared by three districts; Kanungu, Kisoro and Kabale.
This 331 square kilometer protected area largely consists of a rainforest where most of its diverse natural wonders are confined. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park was established in 1991 and in 1994, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It sits between altitude 1160 and 2607 meters.
Wildlife species in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park prides itself as a home to nearly half of all the 1004 mountain gorillas that today still exist on planet earth making it an exceptional gorilla destination for you to strike your imaginations with these world’s massive and awe-inspiring creatures while they are in their natural habitat.
There are also several other mammal species to look out while on safari in Bwindi National Park including chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys; elephants, African civet, L’Hoest monkeys, red tailed monkeys, giant forest hog, striped jackal, African golden cat and many others.
This park also inhabits over 220 butterfly species, 8 of these are Albertine rift endemic while 3 exist only in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. There are also several chameleons, geckos and many other species.
The birds in Bwindi National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a home to over 360 bird species including about 23 endemic birds like blue headed sunbirds, short tailed warbler 7 IUCN red data listed species.
Other incredible bird species to look out in Bwindi include African green broadbill, cream banded swallowtail, red headed bluebill, common bulbul, African emerald cuckoo to mention but a few.
The ideal bird watching sites in this park include Buhoma Waterfall trail, Bamboo Zone, Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija sector in eastern side.
Plant species in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Considering the floral species, this park largely comprises of rainforest with over 220 tree species and 100 fern species including brown mahogany which is a threatened plant species in this protected area.
The forest is a major water catchment area and also main source of most rivers which flow within the park including Ihihizo, Ishasha, Ntengyere, Munyaga and Ivi. Some of the rivers flow into Lakes like Lake Bunyonyi and Lake Mutanda.
There are also over 1000 flowering species with about 163 species of Guineo-Congolian flora as well as several endangered species like Brazzeia longipedicellata.
Top 6 Tourists Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Mountain Gorilla trekking (Gorilla Tracking Safaris)
Gorilla trekking is a popular and prime safari activities offered in Bwindi National Park. This is a lifetime experience you shouldn’t miss while on safari in Bwindi and remarkably.
It is conducted in anyone of the 4 major trailheads; Ruhija area in the eastern side, Buhoma region in north, Rushaga and Nkuringo sector in the southern part of the park. Each gorilla sector in this park consist of habituated families that make up a total of 20 gorilla groups in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
In Buhoma region, you can trek gorilla families like Mubare, Katwe, Habinyanja and Rushegura; Rushaga region has families such as Rwigi, Kutu, Mucunguzi, Nshongi, Kahungye, Busingye, Mishaya, Bweza, Bikingi while at Nkuringo area gorilla treks are done in Nkuringo family, Christmas and Bushaho.
To take part in gorilla trekking, you need $600 to book a gorilla permit in Uganda but this rate will change to $700 from 1st July, 2020.
Gorilla Habituation Experience
Mountain gorilla habituation experience is what sets Bwindi impenetrable forest National Park from the rest of gorilla parks the fact that it is the only national park in the world where this unique primate adventure is conducted.
It is mainly done by researchers, scientists and trackers or conservationists. Gorilla habituation experience is a process in which gorillas are made to get used to human presence before they are officially opened for trekking.
It takes about 2 years or less depending on how fast they can get familiar with human presence. Currently, this experience is done in Kutu gorilla family of Rushaga region the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and you need $1500 to secure a gorilla habituation experience permit.
Bird Watching (Birding Safaris)
With about 360 bird species, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a true birder’s haven. A bird watching tour in this park offers birders a chance to identify variety of bird species including dusky crimson wing, yellow eyed black fly catcher, Kivu ground thrush, white tailed blue monarch, honey guide, cream banded swallowtail, red headed bluebill and many others.
Guided nature walks/forest walks
Guided nature walk allows you to explore different habitats in and around Bwindi National Park. There are various trails where nature walks are done in Bwindi and they include among others the Ivy River trail, Bamboo trail.
While on nature walk, you have a chance to see several bird species, primates such as the black and white colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys.
Batwa Cultural Experience (Cultural Safaris)
The Batwa cultural experience involves you exploring and experiencing in depth about the Batwa pygmies’ unique cultures and traditions. The Batwa pygmies are believed to have lived in the forest as hunters and gatherers up to 500000 years making them true forest dwellers.
Due to need to conserve the area, they were displaced and they are now the marginalized group around Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park.
Biking tour in Bwindi National Park is an exciting experience you need not to miss out. Mountain bike ride ventures at this park are run by women’s group and embarking on biking tour here rewards with amazing experience.
Best time to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Depending on what your travel needs are, Bwindi National Park is open to visitors all year round. However, the dry season is the best time to visit this park especially if you are interested in trekking mountain gorillas.
The dry season starts in June, July, August, September and December, January, February. For bird lovers, the wet season is ideal and it begins in March, April, May and October, November.
Where to stay at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Accommodations in Bwindi)
There are many accommodation options in and around Bwindi National Park and they range from budget to luxury.
Luxury options: Buhoma Lodge/Chameleon Hill Lodge/Clouds Mount Gorilla Lodge
Midrange options: Gorilla Mist Camp/Eco Marvel Gorilla Resort/Engagi Lodge Bwindi
Budget options: Broadbill Forest camp/Buhoma Community Rest Camp/Wagtail Eco Safari Camp.
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Location of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest)
The Park is reachable by road or by air. By road, you can begin your journey from Entebbe or Kampala via Masaka-Mbarara-Kabale and you will need 8-10 hours to drive.
However, you can shorten your journey by flying into Kigali and then connect to Bwindi National Park via Katuna or Chanika border which is about 4 hours’ drive in a good and comfortable 4×4 drive car.
By air, you can take a flight from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kisoro or Kihihi airstrip then drive to Bwindi National Park.
Popular Safari Packages to Bwindi