This UNESCO Site is located in the South western part of Uganda, Kanungu district along Democratic Republic of Congo border.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was declared a park in 1991. It is made up of Bwindi forest, one of the most biologically diverse forests in Africa.
This great rainforest which spans a series of steep ridges and valleys boasts an average rainfall of almost 1500mm to the Park per year.
Besides that, the Park is now famously known as a home to a wider range of Wildlife species including the rarely seen species of Mountain Gorillas.
The list includes 120 mammal species and eleven types of primates including wild chimpanzees, red tailed and blue monkeys, and olive baboons together with black and white colobus monkeys.
Elephants are also present in the south east of the Park but there are rarely seen. Buffaloes and Leopards existed but were hunted to extinction. Then six antelope species are also in existence, they include bush bucks and five types of forest duikers.
Out of the 350 species of birds recorded in Bwindi, 23 are endemic to the Albertine rift, 14 species are not found anywhere else in Uganda like the white tailored blue flycatcher, brown necked parrot, white bellied robin chat, Frazer’s eagle owl, African green broadbill and more.
What’s more, Bwindi is home to over two hundred twenty species of butterflies including the Albertine Rift endemic species, 27 species of frogs, chameleons and geckos.
Its entire tourism focusses on Mountain Gorilla trekking in its four prominent sectors (Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo sector).
How to get there.
Getting to Bwindi is by two options. You either go by road or private charter from Entebbe.
From Kampala or Entebbe, Kampala – Masaka – Mbarara highway is the best way to go in a suitable 4×4 Safari vehicle.
En route stopover is included at the equator for some brief explanation, photos when posing at the equator, snacks, coffee plus purchase of souvenirs in the available craft shops.
After this exciting stop over, you then continue with the jaw-dropping journey for another stopover in Mbarara town to have lunch where you taste on different mouthwatering dishes.
The journey resumes after lunch until you reach your lodge in the evening for check in. Relax at the lodge, have dinner and night stay.
If not Uganda, you can land in Rwanda at Kigali airport and transfer from there up to the suburbs of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This includes crossing borders, you can cross via Katuna or Chanika border.
With this option it’s better to apply for the East African Visa which grants entry opportunities to both countries.
If you hate long distance drives, then this option is perfect for you though it is expensive than road transport means. Private charters are arranged from Kajjansi airstrip up to Kihihi airstrip in western Uganda.
From here, you are transferred by a guide for few kilometers up to the suburbs of the Park for check in at the lodge.
Top Activities done in Bwindi
You have a lot to enjoy in this park including Gorilla trekking excursions, sights of different bird species and cultural encounters.
This is one of the reasons why Uganda receives huge percentage of tourists from different parts of the World.
With gorilla trekking you move in a group following the permanently established trails heading to the Jungle with an interest to meet the Gorillas. Before the trekking journey, a briefing is first conducted at the Park headquarters or starting point.
The main intention for it is to highlight trekkers on how to behave while in the Jungle with Mountain Gorillas. Only eight trekkers in a group are allowed to visit one Gorilla family per day.
Gorilla trackers are the first to go early in the morning to locate the presence of these apes, after notify the Park ranger guide with the group of trekkers about all directions to follow up to the exact location.
After locating these apes, you are allowed to be in their presence for only one hour while seeing them feeding, laughing and playing.
This experience is beyond meeting Gorillas to several sights of other wildlife species like plant life, birds, insect species and more.
Time taken and distance moved for the trekking depends on where these apes spent their last night. What’s more, packed food is of high importance since most of the time lunch hours reach when trekkers are still in the Jungle. Gorilla trekking permit is a must buy and costs $700 USD per person.
Gorilla Habituation Experience.
The habituation experience is almost similar to Gorilla trekking, but what differs is the time spent with these apes in the Jungles. For this activity, tourists are allowed to stay with the Gorillas for four hours in the Jungle.
With this, you have the opportunities to follow movements of these apes while taking photos and videos in different localities.
This incredible experience is only done in Bwindi – Rushaga sector. The permit costs $1500 USD per person and valid for use by one person.
Although it’s renowned for Mountain Gorillas, Bwindi is also an ideal destination for bird watching. It is home to over 320 species of birds including the 23 Abertine rift endemic species.
Ruhija sector is the best recommended area for bird watching with lots of different species seen in Mubwindi swamp.
Some of these species include Chestnut-throated Apalis, African Wood Owl, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Red-throated Alethe, Fine-banded Woodpecker, Grauer’s Rush Warbler, African Green Broadbill, Regal Sunbird, Collared Apalis, Montane Oriole, and Short tailed Warbler, Kivu Ground-Thrush, and Western Green Tinker bird, Handsome Francolin, and Chapin’s Flycatcher.
Batwa Community visits.
You can do this in the evening after the Gorilla trek. It includes associating with the Batwa people in their local communities. Experience their way of living and also be part of the different local activities performed. A guide is available to give detailed facts about life of the Batwa people.