The name Bwindi Impenetrable enchant up images of fearless adventure, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is offering the most life-changing wildlife experiences in the pearl of Africa Uganda. It’s situated in southwestern Uganda, bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is famous because it’s a place where Uganda’s endangered mountain gorillas are protected. It is among the only four national parks on Earth where travelers can enjoy the closest encounter with mountain gorillas the rare subspecies closest to human living relatives.
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Bwindi forest is perched on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley, Bwindi covers over 124 square miles of untamed lowland forest mountainous. Carpeting steep valleys and ridges being covered with mist, Bwindi forest is approximately 25,000 years old, Bwindi forest is among the most biologically diverse in Uganda. Ugandan’s five major rivers begun their journey from Bwindi forest, all these rivers eventually channel their waters into Lake Edward situated to the north of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. Bwindi has been recognized for its importance in protecting the endangered mountain gorillas and other rare endemic species, Bwindi was declared as a national park in 1991 and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in early 1994.
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Things to Do
Many travelers go to Bwindi impenetrable forest National Park to encounter the endangered mountain gorillas. The whole world has approximately 1,000 great giant apes living in the wild and Bwindi alone harbors half of the total world mountain gorilla population. After acquiring a gorilla tracking permit, you’ll enter Bwindi impenetrable forest national park with a well-trained local guide and you will be able to spend an hour viewing one of the habituated gorilla families for the normal gorilla trekking or spend four hours with researchers, park rangers for mountain gorilla habituation depending on your travel budget.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park has plenty of tourism activities to be done. Bwindi alone has over six hiking trails to be explored with a chance of seeing some other diverse wildlife in this authentic national park. Bwindi other diverse wildlife species include 120 mammal species such as chimpanzees, black-and-white colobus monkeys, forest elephants, red-tailed monkeys, giant forest hogs, and antelope. Bwindi is also another birders haven with roughly 350 bird species such as the avian species botanists ogle among others.
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Travelers who love mountain biking will always consider exploring Bwindi forest on the two-wheel important instead. As you head to Buhoma Community Rest Camp, where all the arrangements for cyclists are fully done in an 8-mile trail that takes travelers from the Park Headquarters to the Ivi River. Bwindi round-trip for cyclists takes approximately seven hours.
When Bwindi was declared as a national park, Uganda’s local Bakigwa and Batwa people were forced to move out of their ancestral homes deep within Bwindi impenetrable forest to villages around the park’s boundaries. Travelers can give support to these communities as they learn about the pygmies Batwa way of life by adding the Batwa cultural experience to your Bwindi gorilla trekking visit. The Batwa cultural tour gives travelers an opportunity to participate in African cooking, dancing, weaving, and drumming within the Nkuringo Cultural Centre
During your cultural visit to the village, you also learn about the Batwa’s lifestyle in the forest before they relocated through folks’ interpretive songs and dance performances. You will be able to also meet the village’s traditional healer who gets forest leaves which act as medicine for the local Batwa, visit the Batwa local school, where you will have an opportunity to buy handcrafted souvenirs. At the end of your experience, toast with new friends with a mug of homemade banana beer.
Bwindi’s mountain gorilla families are always visited up to close quarters through an organized gorilla trek in the company of a Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) well-trained guide. Gorilla Trekking takes place in four sectors of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park (Rushaga sector, Buhoma sector, Ruhija sector, and Nkuringo sector) and all these sectors are strictly controlled for the mountain gorillas’ safety. Note, being physically fit is a requirement at some point, because it takes several hours to find a gorilla troop), gorilla trekking participants must be 15 years old and above & in good health.
To see mountain gorillas, every traveler requires a tracking permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority or through a registered tour operator, only eight visitors are accepted to visit each mountain gorilla group per day for one hour maximumly. This means that mountain gorilla permits are both scarce and expensive so travelers should be book prior to their travel date. Tourist agencies help travelers book up a majority of tracking permits, with a number of reservations, it is easier to get one like Devine African Safaris to arrange your trip for you. If you book your tour package with our company, all your permit to enter the park is always included in the tour price.
Best Hiking Trails in Bwindi Impenetrable
While on your vast African safari adventures done by 4×4 wheel, Bwindi’s impenetrable forest is among the few ones that travelers can only access on foot. Travelers may not need the gorilla permit to hike one of the Bwindi hiking six trails, but travelers need to pay a park entry fee. While you hike in any of these trails you won’t see gorillas, Bwindi beautiful sceneries are breathtaking, and get ready to come across other rainforest residents like elephants, giant forest hogs among others. Bwindi hiking trails include.
- Muyanga Waterfall Walk: Muyanga waterfall walk takes you along the Ivi River to an endless 108-foot tall waterfall. Muyanga waterfall trail is among the longer Ivi River Walk trail.
- Rushura Hill Walk: this one needs a clear day, Rushura hill walk trail offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Rwenzori Mountains ranges, the Virunga chained Volcanoes, and Lake George and Lake Edward.
- Habinyanja Trail: this trail is a birders haven, make sure you enjoy the Habinyanja Trail walk, which takes hikers past the rock shaped of a map of Africa, rich in bird’s species, Habinyanja trail offers visits to sight the rare elusive Pel’s fishing owl. Habinyanja trail takes approximately four to six hours.
- Muzubijiro Loop: This loop trail covers nearly 4 miles and is mostly known for a high population of primate species like the olive baboons and other monkeys.
- Ivi River Walk: This trail covers up to a 9-mile trek that takes about seven hours, you pass by a place called Mukempunu, which means a “place of pigs.” As the name implies, you are likely to find a group of giant forest hogs hanging out along the water banks.
- Buhoma-Nkuringo Trail: This trail cuts across the two park sectors and connects to the villages of the Buhoma sector and the Nkuringo sector. It takes about 3-4 to hours to complete the one-way trail, but travelers always hire a driver to bring their luggage to the other destination.
Where to Camp
Visiting Bwindi impenetrable forest National Park is kind of expensive but travelers can minimize their costs of traveling by camping, which means you can either sleeping in a tent or sleeping in a small basic cottage commonly known as a Banda. Some camping accommodation facilities don’t have websites, so always ask around the nearby villages like in the Buhoma sector for more options around the park.
- Gorilla Conservation Camp is among the top choices for most budget travelers. You can decide to camp if you have your own tent, but they also offer self-contained rooms available.
- Bwindi forest farm is for travelers who want an opportunity to do some volunteer work while camping, Bwindi Forest Farm organizes projects which suit travelers interested in camping. Bwindi forest farm is situated in a coffee plantation and you may help those interested in farming, working in a local school, or building structures, you are free to rent a tent at the camp or book a banda.
Where to Stay Near Bwindi
Accommodation at Bwindi is plentiful mainly situated in the adjacent towns of Buhoma sector, Nkuringo sector, Rushaga sector, and Ruhija sector, although Buhoma in Bwindi’s largest town and has the most accommodation options and is easy to connect. Accommodation facilities are based on budget, mid-range options, and luxury lodges.
- Nshongi Camp, Nshongi Camp is a lodging facility situated in the Nkuringo sector outside the main tourist sector in Buhoma. It’s appealing for budget travelers because the accommodations are basic and not expensive, it offers an affordable room and options to have meals taken care of—they can even pack your lunch to bring on your hiking tour.
- Volcano Safari Bwindi Lodge is more on the luxurious end of options in this African jungle lodge with bandas located in the rainforest canopy, where your closet neighbors maybe the local birds, monkeys playing. it has only nine bandas, excellent personal service, and an on-site spa with lavish and exclusive experiences.
- Mahogany springs safari lodge offering another high-class option facility in the Buhoma sector, Mahogany Springs avails suites for couples, family basis, all the suites with balconies that overlook the trees in the rainforest.
How to Get There
Entebbe International Airport Uganda’s main Airport near Kampala Uganda’s capital city main entry overseas for many visitors. From there, travelers either take a pricey domestic charter flight to one of the parks’ nearest airstrips (Kisoro Airstrip or Kihihi Airfield), but also driving to Bwindi park is more enjoyable views along your way. Bwindi long drives takes like eight hours from Entebbe or Kampala, three hours from the tree-climbing lions’ home Queen Elizabeth national park, and two hours from the bakiga land Kabale town. If you book a gorilla trekking tour, your agent company should as well arrange your transportation to the park for you.