Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park – Mountain Gorillas, Albertine Rift Birds, Trekking

Home to the endangered Mountain Gorillas and ranked Africa’s number one birding hotspot, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in the mystic highlands of southwestern Uganda near the borders with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Aptly named “impenetrable”, the park spans 321 square kilometers of dense rainforest and thick vegetation, interspersed with numerous streams and sparkling waterfalls.

The park ranges in altitude from 1,190m to 2,600m above sea level. The weather is always chilly because of the high altitude and dense forest.

Wildlife of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi was declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1994 because of her rich biodiversity. It harbors an array of flora and fauna including nearly half of the world’s Mountain Gorillas. Bwindi forest supports over 400 species of trees, 200 butterflies species, 350 birds species, and 120 mammals.

A number of large mammals which inhabit Bwindi forest include forest elephants, duikers, buffaloes, golden cats, etc. However these are not easy to see due to the thickness of the forest and the uneven mountain terrain.

11 primate species have been recorded including Black-and-white Colobus, Baboons, Chimpanzees, L’Hoest Monkeys, De Brazza Monkey, and the endangered Mountain Gorillas.

The legendary Three-horned Chameleon is one of the tiny creatures of the Bwindi forest that delight tourists during treks in the park.

Activities in Bwindi National Park

Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi

The Mountain Gorilla trekking activity is the flagship of tourism in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Arguably the best wildlife adventure in the world, the Gorilla trek offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to come face to face with the last of the wild Mountain Gorillas in their untouched habitat. Mountain Gorillas are known not to survive out of their natural habitat hence you cannot find Mountain Gorillas (not to be confused with lowland Gorillas) in Zoos! There are 12 habituated Gorilla families in Bwindi and each is available for tracking by a group of not more than 8 tourists for only one hour a day. On persons of 15 years ad above are allowed to track the Gorillas.

Bwindi is divided into 4 centers/regions from which to set off for the gorilla trek, namely Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga.

More about gorilla trekking in Uganda

Bird watching

Bwindi National Park is one of Uganda’s Important Bird Areas (IBA) and also ranked Africa’s number one birding spot. There are 23 out of 24 of Uganda’s Albertine Rift Endemics. The Ruhija area of Bwindi offers an almost guaranteed sighting of the African Green Broadbill – one of the top ten most sought after birds for twitchers. Other highly sought after birds of Bwindi include Shelly’s Crimsonwing, Dwarf Honeyguide, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Laden’s Bush-shrike, Oberlaender’s Ground-thrush.

Nature walks – Waterfalls trail trek

Other than the famous Mountain Gorilla trek, Bwindi offers wonderful nature treks into the forest. There are a number of well maintained trails and wide tracks that lead through the forest offering great views of the forest and plenty of wildlife. The most interesting trail is one in the Buhoma area of the park that leads to beautiful waterfalls. On the trek you get to observe a range of tree species and flowery plants, and encounter some of the forest’s inhabitants including plenty of birds, butterflies, monkeys, chameleons, forest elephants. On a lucky day you could as well encounter the Gorillas. Tired and sweaty from the trek, take a plunge into the cold whirlpool below the waterfalls, swim and enjoy the wonderful natural moment before trekking back. This is a wonderful trek more so if you miss out on the Gorilla trek. The round trek takes close to 4 hours.

Batwa Trails Walk

The Batwa are former inhabitants of Bwindi forest where not so long ago they were evicted from by the park authority. They depended on the forest for their livelihoods, living as hunters and gatherers. They have a deep connection to the forest. There are well organized trails into the forest where the Batwa show visitors there way of life during when they inhabited the forest. They will take you through their hunting routines, their traditions and customs, show you their tree houses, and show you a number of medicinal plants which provided their treatment for a number of sicknesses. At the end of the trail you are treated to traditional dances.

How to reach Bwindi National Park

The journey by car from Kampala to Bwindi takes at least 8 hours, depending on the tracking area of the park you are to visit.

There are also scheduled flights from Entebbe Airport to Kisoro located an hour’s drive to the park.

Lodging in Bwindi

Luxury: Buhoma Lodge, Bwindi Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge,

Mid-range: The Haven Lodge, Gorilla Mist Lodge, Lake Mutanda Resort

Budget: Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Broadbill Camp

Safaris

3 Days Bwindi Gorilla Trek Uganda

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