Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to almost half of the world’s surviving mountain gorillas. Listed world heritage site because of outstanding natural features beauty and scientific value in December 1994. Bwindi is one of Africa’s most famous and ancient habitats, even surviving the last Ice Age as most of the continent’s forests disappeared. The landscape here is rugged, with deep valleys running between steep sided hills and ridges with barely a square kilometer of the park flat. There is a blend of both lowland and montane rainforests with a dense undergrowth of herbs, vines and shrubs hence its name impenetrable.
Covering approximately 331sq. km of improbably steep montane rainforest, Bwindi regarded as one of the most biologically diverse forests in Africa with the richest faunal community in East Africa. The combination of its broad altitude span (1160m to 2607m) and its antiquity has produced an incredible diversity of flora and fauna, resulting in some 120 mammal species calling Bwindi a home more than any of Uganda’s other national parks – though sightings are less common due to the dense and lush forest. Lucky visitors always blessed with sightings of forest elephants especially in Ruhija sector, 11 species of primate including chimpanzees and L’Hoest monkeys, duikers, bushbucks, African golden cats and the rare giant forest hog, as well as a host of bird and insect, and butterfly species. This is the only park where chimpanzees and gorillas co-exist together.
For birders, Bwindi is one of the most exhilarating bird watching destinations in Uganda with over 360 bird species, of which 24 are endemic to the Albertine Rift and several endangered species, such as the African green broadbill.
The pristine rainforests of this park, one of the largest natural forests in East Africa, are home to approximately 300 species of butterfly including two endangered species of swallowtails. 200 native tree species and many species of reptiles and amphibians.
Most visitors who come here, come for Gorilla Trekking, there is however much more to this ancient primeval rainforest. Bwindi Forest is simply unique and has much more to offer than the magnificent Mountain Gorillas. Here are some of the activities that one could choose to venture in while at BINP;
This is exhilarating and genuine once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hanging out with mountain gorillas is one of the most thrilling wildlife encounters in the world, and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a prime place to see them. There are theoretically over 150daily permits available to track gorillas from 19 gorilla families in Bwindi. Permits cost US$700 (including park entry) and are booked through the UWA headquarters in Kampala. Trips leave from the park office nearest the group you’ll be tracking at 8.30am daily, but you should report to park headquarters by 7:30am for a briefing about gorillas and allocation of groups. With the help of trackers, chances of finding the gorillas are almost guaranteed. But mountainous and heavily forested terrain can present hikers with quite a challenge if the gorillas are a fair distance away. The path is often steep and slippery, and it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours to reach them, so you’ll need to be in reasonable degree of fitness. If you think you’re going to struggle it’s strongly advised you hire a porter (USD15) who can carry your day pack and lend a hand getting up and down the hill. Walking sticks are also a highly recommended, and are sometimes provided by UWA.
Note; you must be over 15 years of age to trek the gorillas.
Besides gorilla tracking, Bwindi is a rewarding park to visit just for a chance to explore the lush virgin rainforest. Several three- to four-hour nature/waterfall walk run by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) penetrate the Impenetrable Forest around Buhoma. The walks begin at 9am and 2.15pm, and leads to a magnificent 33m waterfall on the Munyaga River, but just as impressive is the rich forest ecosystems it passes through.
Batwa cultural experience will introduce and offer you an opportunity to Learn and enjoy as they guide you through the forest, dance, sing and storytelling of their traditional ways of farming, handling the bow, gather honey, and picking herbal medicine from roots and leaves a local way of treating the local people.
Bwindi is one of the most exhilarating birdwatching destinations in the Uganda with over 360 bird species, of which 24 are endemic to the Albertine Rift and several endangered species, such as the African green broadbill.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park can be visited any time, though conditions are more challenging during the rainy season.
The driving time to Bwindi depends on where you come from. If you are from Kigali, Rwanda, its +4hrs drive approximately 180 kilometers while from Kampala/Entebbe, it is +9hrs drive approximately 550 kilometers. The journey is astounding as it accredits the rolling hills of Kigezi region, Lake Bunyonyi, the Uganda Equator as well as the Switzerland of Uganda.
By Air, you can opt to fly from Entebbe/Kampala at Kajansi airfield to Nyakabande airstrip located in Kisoro for clients interested in trekking Rushaga in the Southern sector. Additionally, Planes may as well be chartered to the Savannah/ Kayonza airstrips as well as Kihihi airstrip for the clients intending to venture in the northern sectors of Ruhija and Buhoma the headquarters of BINP.
There are lots of lodging facilities to stay and spend a night while at BINP. From topnotch to budget camping choices, there are lots of options for tourists visiting the park. These include; Gorilla heights lodge, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest camp, Trackers’ lodge, Mahogany springs, Buhoma lodge, Bwindi lodge, Gorilla safari lodge (Luxury) Silver back lodge, Haven lodge Buhoma, Rushaga gorilla camp, Lake Kitandara tented camp, Ruhija lodge, Engagi lodge (Midrange), Buhoma community rest camp, Nkuringo safari camp, Bweza gorilla lodge, Gorilla bluff lodge, Rafiki lodge (Budget).