Overview – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
This is an awesome and a pleasant jungle through an old forest with beautiful landscapes throughout Bwindi forest. Another leading travel destination in Africa and Uganda. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is beautiful, excellent and rather derives a cool name being impenetrable due to the existing mountain gorillas up close that leave a long lasting memory and a joyous feeling.
Located in the heart of Virunga Massif, you are quickly wowed by the thought of encountering the largest apes and at the same time determined to defy all the limitations as you jungle through the forest to discover the beauties of the National Park. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is situated along the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley and north of the Virunga Volcanoes with Rwanda.
It offers a massive, enticing outlook through the slopes of the hills of Bwindi massif with its swath of steep mountains covered in thick steamy jungle, it is just as magnificent, magical and otherworldly about this forest as the wind braces with anticipation and exciting building on when you will look into the silverback’s eyes.
Being one of Africa’s most ancient habitats, it survived the last Ice Age as most of the continent’s other forests disappeared and the only place where chimpanzees and gorillas coexist in the same habitat with forest elephants and extremely rare birds .The park has managed to house over 400 Gorillas due to the sound conservation practices, depicting why the forest is a very interesting presence for Gorilla Trekking alongside the amazing scenery of the Virunga massif, the Rwenzori backdrop, views of Lake Albert, plants, wildlife, birds, primates.
A Gorilla Trek is one of the most thrilling a traveller can experience on a jungle adventure, the trek starts when you reach the gorillas’ previous location. Tracking gorillas takes time, patience and good knowledge of the forests, ways and habits of the mountain gorillas.
Mountain Gorillas are mind blowing, and many are often at a loss of words when they find themselves finally standing just a few meters away from them with just an hour to enjoy the truly magical moment that will forever be ingrained in your mind and can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world.
Wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
With a great biodiversity of the vegetation in the park, it is a great habitat for the animals and birds .120 species of mammals including Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Black and White Colobus, Red-Tailed Guenon,Vervet Monkeys, L’Hoest’s Guenon, Baboons, Nocturnal Prosimians, Forest Elephants, Duikers, Bush pigs, Giant Forest Hogs, several small species of Cats alongside 360 species of birds and over 200 species of butterflies.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has a variety of wildlife calling it home but most notably are the endangered impressive Mountain Gorillas that can only be seen in Africa in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda with 1000 Mountain Gorillas remaining in the world and half of them inhabiting Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
The forest boasts a vast number of habituated gorilla families located in different sections of the Park, with 3 gorilla families in Buhoma(Mubare, Habinyanja and Rushegura), in Ruhija(Oruzogo, Bitukura and Kyaguriro), Nkuringo has one gorilla family known as Nkuringo and Rushaga(Mishaya, Nshongi, Busingye, Bweza and Kahungye).
Vegetation in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a tropical rain forest in East Africa consisting of the lowland and montane vegetation zones meeting together. It was able to protect the jungle during the ice age and served as a water hub for most of the wildlife species that relied on the forest unlike other areas that didn’t have any forest or vegetation cover.
Bwindi has numerous vegetation types that are widely categorized into Medium altitude, Moist ever green and the Afro montane forest highly limited vegetation category in Africa. The park is covered by mixed forest which is concentrated around its altitudes characterized by canopy from plant species like Red stinkwood, Newtonia, Symphonia globulifera, East African yellow wood and Strombosia scheffleri. Beneath the main forest there are species like Xymalos, Neoboutonia Macrocalyx, Monospora, Myrianthus holstii, Teclea nobilis and Allophylus abyssinicus.
The vegetation diversity provides large feeding area for the mountain gorillas, forest elephants and other ground dependent wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The forest elephants have also been attributed for creation and maintenance of the open places within the jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest as they are attracted to the existent swampy areas within the jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest during the dry season.
The water catchment place in the forest provides platform for agriculture, for the nearby local communities as well as the major source for several rivers like Ivi, Munyaga, Ihihizo Ishasha and Ntengyere that drain into Lake Edward with rivers Ndego, Kanyamwabo and Shongi flowing southwards to Lake Mutanda.The park has 400 plant species and intense wildlife diversity made of numerous ferns, colorful orchids, epithetic ferns, lush fogy rainforests alongside a widevariety of bird species, wildlife and butterflies.
Apart from the gorillas, one can experience the beauty of the wildlife, flora and the other numerous coexisting fauna in the park. Considering the various vegetation types that are defined by their altitudes offering a unique biodiversity.
Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Talking about biodiversity,Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has the most amazing with plant species that can’t be found in any park with various animal species,butterflies,birds and not forgetting the endangered Mountain Gorillas that are the biggest attraction of travellers to this park. Below are some of the activities you can choose to enroll in on your visit to the park.
Bwindi Forest is mostly frequented for Gorilla Trekking and the main reason that most visitors come to this park as it provides an incredible backdrop for this once in a lifetime adventure. There are four trailheads from which one tracks one of the gorilla families that have been habituated for visitors.
Gorilla Habituation Experience
This experience can only be encountered in Uganda in the Rushaga area of the Park, where that you will spend 4 hours with the Mountain Gorilla Family with fewer participants-4 people.
There are presently two family groups being habituated, meaning that they becoming used to human contact and will not run away from visitors trekking them.
Batwa Community Visit
The Batwa People are the pygmies who were the first inhabitants of the forest for years as hunter-gatherers.The Batwa Experience in the Buhoma area and the Buniga Forest Walk, near Southern Bwindi, give you a glimpse into the lives and traditions of the Batwa as you help restore their dignity and keep their cultural practices alive.
Hiking through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Hiking through the forest is with a guide and can be done from Nkuringo to Buhoma or vise versa and is famous with who choose to trek gorillas twice, once in Buhoma and once in the South of the Park.
Birding in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of Africa’s number one Birding Site with many species endemic to the forest. As one of the prime birding destinations in Africa, it is home to over 347 species of forest birds recorded in the Park, at least 70 out of 78 montane forest bird species occurring in the Albertine Rift region are found in the forest, and 22 of the 36 endemic species in the region.
Mountain Bike Rides
Opt for a fascinating village walk on a bike with a well trained guide where you will ride into the Forest such as the Ivy River Trail. The average Bike Ride is 3 hours or longer in length with much to see along the trail or road.
Conduct a 3-hour cultural walk through the village as you learn their ways of life and cultures of the people, you will be accompanied by a local guide who is knowledgeable about local culture and customs.
Accommodation in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Accomodation consists of the pocket friendly but still awesome and luxurious lodgings around and near the forest. A traveller shall have to choose depending on the sector he is going to conduct and the budget at hand.
Buhoma area in the Northern sector
This is the most visited area for tracking to gorillas due to variety of lodges for accomodation and for the less strenuous terrain and they include;
- Buhoma Lodge
- Bwindi Lodge
- Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Lodge
- Mahogany Springs
- Buhoma Haven Lodge
- Engagi Lodge
- Silverback Lodge
- Buhoma Community Rest Camp
- Gorilla Forest Camp
- Gorilla Resort
- Lake Kitandara Tented Camp
- Bwindi Gorilla Conservation Camp.
Ruhija Area in the Eastern sector
This sector is about 2 hours away from Buhoma, if tracking here you can also choose to stay in Buhoma with an early morning rise to Ruhija for tracking.
- Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge
- Gorilla Mist Camp
- Ruhija Community Rest Camp
- Bakiga Lodge
- Broadbill Forest Camp
- Agandi Lodge
Rushaga Area in the Southern sector
This sector has the highest number of gorilla families and the only sector where you can conduct a Gorilla Habituation Experience where you get to spend 4 hours with the mountain gorillas.
- Bwindi Jungle Lodge
- Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge
- Mutanda Lake Resort
- Gorilla Safari Lodge
- Rushaga Gorilla Camp
- Gorilla Valley Lodge
Nkuringo Area in the Southern sector
This area has the most strenuous trek with a difficult terrain and should be undertaken by the able bodied and physically fit.
- Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge
- Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge
- Chameleon Hill Camp
Best time of the year to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Uganda is known as a whole round travel destination to any tourist planning to travel due to its climate, location to the equator and Lake Victoria and its unique weather patterns to the climate. Uganda mainly has two rainy seasons; from October to November and the long rainy season starts from Mid-march to the end of May.
The best time to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for the gorillas is June, July, August or September, January and February when the roads and the trials in the park are less slippery and passable.
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one one of the most scenic wildlife parks in Uganda, home to half of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world- it a very frequented park by travellers from all around the world. The park can be accessed by air for the luxury travellers who don’t want to spend a lot of time on the road and by road for the travellers that want to appreciate the scenic attractions as you drive through the different locations.
- Kampala to Kabale to Kanungu to Buhoma.
The drive from Kampala to Kabale lasts 8 hours where you will connect through Kanungu to Buhoma for about 5-6 hours.
- Kampala to Ntungamo to Rukungiri to Kihihi to Buhoma.
This route is the easiest, direct and most convenient route is from Kampala direct to the tarmac road Rukungiri and has about 390km to Buhoma.
- Kampala to Kabale to Ruhija to Buhoma.
After the 8 hours drive from Kampala, this route covers an area of about 95 km 2 on the murram road lasting about 3-4 hours.
- Kampala to Kabale to Nkuringo.
This route covers a distance of about 105 km from Kabale town lasting about 4 hours to get to the mountainous murram road and another 120 km lasting about 4 hours to Nkuringo.
- From Queen Elizabeth National Park (Mweya) to Ishasha to Kihihi to Buhoma.
This route covers an area of about 160 km from Mweya and another 64 km from Ishasha to Buhoma through Kihihi
Some travelers can choose to fly to cut the time they spend the on the road or because they have less travel days. A scheduled flight can be booked with Aerolink from Entebbe International Airport or from Kampala at Kajjansi airfield to the airstrips in Kisoro if you are tracking the southern sector or Kihiihi and Kayonza for travellers tracking for the northern area