Bwindi Impenetrable national park is Uganda’s hotspot for tourists that protects steep hills and valleys south of the Ishasha sector and north of Kisoro. The tangled forested slopes roll eastwards from Albertine Rift Valley Escarpment and provide sanctuary to one of Africa’s most diverse fauna including half population of Mountain gorillas.
Gorilla tracking is the main activity at the park despite the diversity and it was first operated in 1993 at Buhoma sector which is the park headquarters and now it operates here and other 3 trail heads of Nkuringo, Rushaga, and Ruhija which are all facilitated with a selection of lodges. Today over 19 habituated Gorilla groups/families and 1 semi habituated group is available at the Rushaga sector for the gorilla habituation experience. The park is also one of the finest birding spot in Africa with 23 Albertine endemic in its 350 recorded species.
Bwindi Impenetrable National park is one of Africa’s most diverse forest with an antiquity of more than 25000 years and altitudinal span of 1160m to 2607m. The 331km2 has a floral component of 160 tree species, more than 100 ferns, harbors 120 mammal species which include 10 primate species, 200 butterflies, reptiles, and amphibians.
To do at the park
Gorilla tracking and habituation
Gorilla tracking at Bwindi focuses on 4 separates locations-sectors as it is called, Buhoma in the northwest and south of Queen Elizabeth National park, Ruhija in the East, Nkuringo and Rushaga in the southwest. Each of these are self-standing gorilla tracking trail heads each with its own habituated Gorilla groups and served by sets of lodges.
On a daily, tourists meet at park offices of each sector where they are briefed and entertained by a group of local women who sing folks of welcome, before they are distributed into groups according to a family they are going to track and ranger guides lead them into the forest for the encounter with mountain gorillas. 8 people visit a group in a day and are allowed only an hour in the company of mountain gorillas.
On the other end at the Rushaga sector, it is here that only tourists can engage in the gorilla habituation experience. The habituation experience allows more time (4 hours) which is 3 hours less than the gorilla tracking experience. The activity is 2 times and 100 dollars the price of gorilla tracking but more engaging because you help the doctors, and other personnel on their duties of the habituation process and chances of getting in contact with the gorillas where possible.
All, the 4 trail heads offer top notch birding opportunities. Prospect to tick some of the forest rarities walk alongside River Ivi between Buhoma and Nkuringo, the Munyanga River trail in Buhoma, Ruhija’s Bamboo trail and Mubwindi swamp that are renown for the Albertine endemics that include the Green Broadbill, handsome francolin among others.
Village and Batwa visits
Get time about 3 hours to stroll through the villages on the margins of the forest and immerse yourself in the customs and practices of the Bakiga and Batwa people. The visits take you through various activities such as farming, brewing local beer, dispensing local medicinal herbs, dances and drama.
You can also do the Batwa experience at Buhoma, a day long encounter that takes places at a private forest contiguous with the park. This provides insight into the traditional forest life and hunter-gather culture of the Batwa.
Several guided nature walks of about 30 minutes, 4 -8 hours can be done at the park offering a chance to enjoy the tranquility and broader diversity of the forest. Explore the forest’s trails to the water falls, get details of the small organisms off the beaten track, and ascend to the view points for breathtaking views of the forest, Albertine Rift and the Virunga volcanoes.
Getting to the park
Buhoma is 460km from Kampala and 62km south of Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National park and the southwest is 512km by road but it can be shortened and broken down to avoid long transfer by road. Due to demand, and need to break the long drives, Aero Link and Fly Uganda provide daily flights to and from airstrips near the park from Kajjansi airstrip and Entebbe airport. Kihihi airstrip is about 40km from Buhoma, also Rushaga and Ruhija areas can be accessed by helicopters and are served by the Kisoro Airport/Nyakabande airstrip.
Reach us here, for a safari to Bwindi.