Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a sanctuary to approximately half the world’s population of mountain gorillas.
Although most tourists visit the park to see the mountain Gorillas, the park alone is a gem worth exploring. It necessitates that anyone coming to track down these gorillas comes along with a camera and keeps their eyes wide opened so as not to miss on any of the wonders that this park has to offer.
Welcome to the Impenetrable Bwindi Forest, the word Bwindi is somewhat associated with darkness. 10% of the total proceedings from government receipts on tracking permits are donated to the local communities surrounding the park in an effort of persuading them not to disturb the mountain gorillas and the Bwindi Forest. The forest has steep edges that are quite challenging to hike, a rich biodiversity and the thick forest that you should not miss. Initially in 1932 during the colonial administration, this place was referred to as the ‘Impenetrable Forest Reserve’, but the present government of ruling president Museveni saw its name change in 1991 to ‘Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’. As a result of the hard work of numerous wildlife conservation groups and other environment agencies, the population of mountain gorillas in the Bwindi has since increased steadily from 1991.
Walter Baumgartel who is one among the pioneers who extended tourism to the gorillas was an innkeeper of travelers Rest-Inn in Kisoro where the Author of ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ –Dian Fossey used to reside. He wrote a book ‘Up Among the Mountain Gorillas’ with a caption ‘Encounters with the giant apes in the remote highlands of southern Uganda’ which is presently so insightful and will avail you with a background of the long ago struggles to safe guard the mountain gorillas and enable those interested to see them from a close distance. It should be back remember that back there was a belief that it was too dangerous to see these apes which was disproved by thousands of visitors back then.
There are more than 350 resident mountain gorillas in the Impenetrable Bwindi forest, although other animals such as forest elephants are occasionally seen within the park. These forest elephants are more hairy and smaller than the savanna elephants. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is also a haven to other 120 distinct animals. Among the 11 primate species in the forest are the red & blue monkeys, baboons, L’Hoest’s, Black & White Colobus and chimpanzees all in large numbers. Additionally are bushbuck antelopes and duiker antelopes.
In the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest are more than 300 bird species some unique to this place only. Always keep your eyes opened as you trek through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Other than the numerous birds are 200 butterfly species. The Bwindi impenetrate list of birds is in Nkuringo Campsite still within the Bwindi Forest.
Other than gorilla tracking, you can alternatively trek along trails which expedition run between 30 minutes up to 8 hours beginning at Buhoma and enjoy the serene verdant forest and more than 190 birds within the Buhoma region. The waterfall trail which runs for 3 hours is one among the finest, and you will also be able to see butterflies along the path.
Safety within the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest; the park is highly secured and all you tracking will be done in the presence of an armed guide. The Bwindi area does not have a security dispatch from either UK or the US embassy. Just after the Rwanda genocide, there was a one occasion problem within the Bwindi, but for the last decade, hundreds of tourists flock the area.
Forest birding in this area stands out as the best within the country with about 23 wide spread Albertine Rift bird species localized in this area.
Activities in this park are Gorilla tracking ass the chief attraction which necessitates availability of permits which should be acquired in advance.
Additionally are guided treks through the forest with the waterfall trail being the most popular among them all while others are tuned to primate watching and birding.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the most popularly known of all forest reserves for gorilla tracking although it also provides shelter for forest elephants, Monkeys, small antelopes, chimpanzees and numerous bird species endemic in the Albertines Rift.
Bwindi Gorilla safaris
Bwindi Uganda Gorilla safaris are one unforgettable experience part of the prime attractions on Uganda Safaris. Bwindi impenetrable forest is home to 2 habituated groups of Mountain Gorilla’s namely the Mubare group of 16 gorillas and the Habiyanja group 23 gorillas. Both groups are tracked daily by not more than 6 visitors who are escorted by National Park rangers and guides.
Report to the ranger station at 8.00am where two groups of 6 to 8 travellers meet their local guides and head out into the forest. The trek can take from half an hour to five hours so a reasonable degree of fitness is required as well as a sturdy pair of walking shoes. You sit in the forest among the gorillas listening to them grumble at each other and marvel at the sheer size of the dominant male, the silverback.
You will be told that if the big male silverback charges at you, you should look down and remain exactly where you are in a submissive pose. These words of wisdom are directly opposite to your natural instincts, but luckily a ranger is there to grab you should your feet disobey the instructions. The noise of the silverback pounding his chest during this mock charge is akin to overhead thunder and more than enough to make your knees knock and heart miss a beat. As the gorillas grow more accustomed to human presence, the charges do not happen so often. Each gorilla group is only visited for one hour a day.
From Kampala, Bwindi forest National Park is located 414 km in Kabale town for travel time of 6-7hours. You’ll require stron 4X4 vehicle to climb the steep slopes of the Kisoro hills on murram road to reach the park headquarters via Kanungu
Bwindi Gorilla Park is often very cold for the early morning and in the nights with temperature between 7º C and 20ºC especially for June and July, 2 rainy season with short rains in March and May and longer periods of heavy rains from September and November. Remember to pack warm clothing.
Bwindi Impenetrable forest park is surrounded by several Bwindi accommodation options located in the small town of Buhoma with up market, budget and luxury tourist facilities. Up market accommodation is available at Lake Kintandara camp, Gorilla resort, Gorilla Forest Camp, Engagi camp, Bwindi Volcanoes Lodges, Mantana tented camp and Nkuringo Gorilla camp. Budget facilties and camps are also part of what is available for overnight. Some of these options include Bwindi Bandas, Ruhija Guesthouse and many self catering inns I Kisoro town.