Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is famous for Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Uganda and is situated along the Democratic Republic of Congo border next to the Virunga National Park. Bwindi is on the edge of the western Great Rift Valley. It comprises 331 square kilometres of jungle forests which comprises both montane and lowland forest and is accessible only on foot.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site with one of the richest ecosystems in Africa and a variety of animal and bird species. The park is a habitat for some 120 species of mammals, 346 species of birds, 202 species of butterflies, 163 species of trees, 100 species of ferns, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos and many endangered species. In particular the area shares in the high levels of endemic of the Albertine Rift.
Bwindi National Park is home to Mountain Gorillas, colobus monkeys and many birds like hornbills and turacos. The park is most notable for gorillas whose numbers constitute half of the world’s population of critically endangered primates. In Bwindi Forest, a 3-Day Gorilla Trekking Tour is the most common safari package for most visitors. This gorilla tour package offers wider chances for exploring Bwindi for trekking excursions, nature tours, community walks as well as bird watching among others. Other safari options include one-day and two days gorilla safaris for visitors who enter Uganda through Kigali in Rwanda.
Tourist Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Flora and Fauna.
Bwindi supports tremendous biodiversity as a result of three major factors. Its slopes extend over a broad altitudinal range of 1,447m to create habitats ranging from lowland forest at 1,160m to rare Afromontane vegetation above 2,600m. It is also extremely old and part of the exceptionally rich Albertine Rift Endemic area. When most of Africa’s forests disappeared during arid conditions of the ice age (12,000 -18,000 years ago), Bwindi was one of the few ‘refugia’ that persisted. Consequently, while most of today’s forests are no more than 12,000 years old, Bwindi’s vegetation has been weaving itself into tangles over at least 25,000 years, in the process accumulating a lengthy species list. This list includes 310 species of butterflies, 51 reptiles, 200 trees, 88 moths and 120 types of mammals.
Mountain gorillas live in structured groups with defined home ranges. Bwindi has ten habituated gorilla groups that are tracked by tourists. Three of these are in the vicinity of Buhoma, three at Ruhija, while the other four are tracked from the southern sector (Nkuringo/Rushaga)
The Park boasts 10 species of primates including the mountain gorilla, chimpanzee, baboon, L’Hoest, red-tailed, blue monkey, black and white Colobus and the nocturnal bush babies.
Bwindi is a habitat for a variety of birds with over 350 species recorded, including 23 endemics (90% of all Albertine Rift endemics) such as the short-tailed Warbler, Shelly’s Crimson wing, African Green Broadbill and Blue-headed Sunbird as well as seven IUCN red data listed species. Easy to see are the African Emerald Cuckoo, African Blue White-tailed Flycatchers and Red-headed Bluebill.
Getting to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The park can be accessed easily by road or air, depending on your planned itinerary, resources and time. There are also options for backpackers, as some good bus coaches are available to Kisoro and Buhoma where you can find lodging. Private car hires are easily accessible, though the mountain terrain requires 4×4 cars to avoid struggling up the hills. Kampala City to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park takes about 8-10 hours to drive, but it is only 40 minutes by flight from Entebbe to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip.
Tracking gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
There are 12 habituated gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable Park that can be tracked by travellers in the four sectors of Buhoma, Nkuringo, Ruhiija and Rushaga. All families exhibit unique behaviours and characteristics, and if you have enough time and resources you can track more than one group during your trip.
A maximum of eight people are allowed to track each gorilla family at any given time in order to conserve their natural habitat and keep them safe from infections. The duration of the trek depends on the family allocated and their GPS location in each sector, though reservations are made for less fit travellers to trek nearby families.
Resting off at Lake Bunyonyi and Lake Matanda.
After a long day trekking at Bwindi Impenetrable Park, the body is often exhausted and all one needs is a cool off in a serene environment. For those tracking in the Buhoma and Nkuringo sectors, Lake Bunyonyi is one magnificent site not to miss out on, complete with resort hotels and lodges coupled with water sports activities like snorkelling and boat cruises in Kabale.
Those tracking in Ruhinja and Mgahinga can enjoy activities on Lake Matanda in Kisoro. Sunbathing, boat rides, hiking, cycling and community walks are some favourite activities to do while there.