Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is located in the South Western part of Uganda, along the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border next to Virunga national park on the edge of the Albertine rift. It is 321 square kilometers and is composed of both montane and lowland forest. The Bwindi impenetrable national park is between 1,160m and 2,607m above sea level in altitude.
The national park is also a designated World Heritage Site providing habitat to over 120 mammal species, 220 butterfly species, over 350 bird species, more than 1,000 flowering plant species, 163 tree species, 104 fern species, and 27 frog species among others. The Bwindi national park was gazette as a national park in 1991 and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1994 by UNESCO. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is famously known for mountain gorillas and about 400, half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas are found in this forest.
There are 14 mountain gorilla groups in Bwindi national park and all these are found within the four sectors which include Buhoma, Rushaga, Nkuringo, and Ruhija. All these four sectors are open for tourism and these can be accessed by visitors who are planning their gorilla trekking adventure in the Pearl of Africa. The national park is also home to chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, and most birds.
Mubare group in the Buhoma sector was the first to be habituated for tourism in Bwindi in April 1993. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is under the Uganda Wildlife Authority(UWA). Mountain gorillas are rare and endangered and their population is divided between Bwindi and the Virunga mountains.
Activities to Do in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Mountain Gorilla trekking
This is one of the major activities that bring tourists to the country. This is also the main activity that takes place in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park. Mountain gorillas in this park are habituated and most tourists are allocated a particular group whereby a ranger guide to trek in the forest helps them. Tourists should take note of the rules and regulations regarding mountain gorilla trekking.
As you enter the forest in search of these close relatives, kindly note that you may be able to come across other animals in the forest for example colobus monkeys, baboons, and bird species like the great blue turaco. Coming face to face with the mountain gorillas is one of the most exciting, thrilling, and unforgettable experiences one should not miss on his trip to the Pearl of Africa, most probably Bwindi’s impenetrable forest national park.
Birding in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Birding also takes place in this national park so bird lovers are advised to carry with them their birding equipment on their trip to Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park. Birding is commonly done along the main trail, bamboo zone, Mubwindi swamp, and Buhoma waterfall as well as in the swamps of Ruhija.
Common birds spotted include the regal sunbird, black bee-eater, Ruwenzori nightjar, brown-capped weaver, black-billed turaco, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, African green pigeon, African harrier hawk, giant kingfisher, crowned hornbill, common bulbul, African emerald cuckoo among others. The best time for doing the birding experience is between November and April.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park has different trails and all of these can be used by tourists on nature walks. These include the Rushura hill walk, Munyanga River trail, Muzubijiro Loop trail, Buhoma-Nkuringo trail, Habiyanja/Raleigh trail, and the Ivi river walk. All these trails provide special opportunities for visitors and they can view different wildlife as well as birds.
Community walks are also an unforgettable experience for tourists on their visit to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. This walk leads you to the forest people, also known as the Batwa or pygmy. These have a richly fascinating history of how they have managed to live in the forest for so many years and their hunting and gathering skills. At the end of your community visit, you can also participate in the traditional dance by the Batwa/pygmies as well as learn more about the uniqueness of these people.
During this community walk, you also meet the Bakiga people who live on the terraced hillsides, extending to the edge of the forest to the South of the park. Take note that of the money collected from the park entrance fees, a certain percentage is allocated and extended to the local people to help in setting up community projects for example building schools, health centers, and roads. For example, Bwindi community hospital provides medical services to more than 40,000 people both from within and as far as Kanungu.
When to go to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park?
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park can be visited all year round though most visitors prefer visiting during the dry months of the year when the trails are less tampered with and less slippery. This is from December to March and from May to September. However, bird lovers can visit the park during the rainy season as this is the time to spot as many bids as they can because of the green environment.
How to Get to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park?
The park can be accessed by either means of road or air transport.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park is located about 480 kilometers from Uganda’s capital city Kampala and by road it is around 8-9 hours to use a comfortable car. This can be through Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, and then connecting to Bwindi national park
Both scheduled and chartered flights can be arranged from either Entebbe or Kajjansi connecting to both Kisoro airstrip and Kihihi airstrip in Kanungu.