Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the most visited national parks in Uganda and has half of these mountain gorillas remaining in the world. The great news is that these are thriving and growing in numbers. It’s known that there are 400 gorillas found in this park. Many of the visitor who come here come for gorilla trekking since there is much more to these ancient species. You could also spend many days on a Bwindi Forest safari since this is one of the most fantastic places in Africa. The park is unique and has much more to offer than the magnificent mountain gorillas.
The park is one of the oldest forests in East Africa and it might have inhabited 370000 – 400000 years ago by the Batwa people who are the original people of the rain forest. You will find many plant and tree species. Even though Gorilla trekking is the main focus, there are many activities here one can partake in including the amazing scenery, primates, birds, wildlife and many more. Below are the top things to do and see in Bwindi Forest;
In 1994, it was acknowledged as the world Heritage site. Rukiga is a language commonly spoke in this area and the word Bwindi in realty means Impenetrable. The national park has 90 mammal species, including 11 primates, of which the black-and-white colobus, with its lovely flowing white tail, is prominent. The National Park is located in southwestern Uganda in East Africa. The park is part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and is situated along the Congo border near Virunga National Park. 331 sq kilometres of jungle forest accessible only by foot. The place to see the mountain gorillas in Africa.
Explore Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Get to discover the things to see and do in Bwindi forest, this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the national park home to mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, other primates, forest elephants, and the rare Birds that are not found elsewhere. The forest ha got over 400 gorillas that live there and are thriving because of high conservation practices. Apart from gorilla trekking in Bwindi forest, you can also enjoy hikes, climbs, biking, birding, intercultural visits and many more.
The park has got four areas where the activities take place; these include Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo as well as Rushaga. Each of these areas has always brought out great and unique aspect of this rain forest. Gorilla trekking is the main activity that the visitors to Bwindi partake and even some do it twice. Bwindi forest is the best known area for gorilla trekking and this is the reason why it gets many visitors. The forest provides an incredible back drop for this once a life time experience. There are four known trailheads from which one can track the gorillas and permits need to be obtained.
More of the gorilla families have been habituated for the visitors. This means that there are over 100 daily gorilla permits available in Bwindi Forest. You should always make sure that you wear the right clothing for the trek and bring the things required. For detailed information on things to see and do, where to stay, getting there and best times to visit the park, click here t acess the Bwindi National Park guide
Quick Guide to Where to Go Gorilla Trekking
Buhoma Sector – This is where gorilla tourism commenced in Uganda. There are several habituated gorilla families and the most popular lodges are found in this area. For travelers who do not want to hike long distances, this is the best sector to book.
Ruhija – Ruhija is close to Buhoma. There are also several gorilla families that have been habituated in the area. The area offers moderate hikes to the gorillas in Bwindi.
Nkuringo is one of the best sectors for those interested in sightseeing. There is the stunning scenery of Nkuringo, you can’t leave out these stunning scenery that is found in Bwindi forest most especially the Nkuringo Area. The forest has got 6 gorilla families in the area. New lodges have also opened and the visitors are not only enjoying gorilla trekking but also taking in the breathtaking scenery found in the area. These virungas in the distance is an amazing sight to behold.
The Rushaga Area is the best area for gorilla tracking for travelers interested in moderate and hard hikes in Bwindi impenetrable national park. Rushaga has become the area in Bwindi impenetrable forest with the most gorilla groups to track. This is also the area where gorilla habituation is carried out. There are two gorilla families that have been set aside for gorilla habituation experience. Rushaga can also be accessed easily from Kigali Rwanda, a mere 3 hour drive.
There is also gorilla habituation adventure in Rushaga. This is only in Uganda and you can be with the gorillas for over 4 hours on a gorilla habituation experience along with the researchers in Bwindi forest. This is really a very unique experience in Africa. There are two families presently being habituated and this means that they are becoming used to human contact and will not run away from the visitors that trek them. You can also fly into Kigali Rwanda and drive to Rushaga region of the forest in order to get this experience. You have choice of accommodation facilities ranging from Budget, Moderate as well as upmarket.
You can also enjoy mountain bike rides with in Buhoma area. The Ride for a woman which is a community support group gives mountain bike rentals and the guided bike in and around Bwindi forest with in Buhoma area of the park. You can even have village walk on a bike with the guided. There are also the birding Bike rides or a ride into the forest like the Ivy River trail. The bike ride hours I 3 or longer in length with much to view along the trail or road. The guide are all well trained and some of these specialize in birding and others in culture.
There is also the Batwa Forest Experience; these were the original people of the forest, they were here for the past thousand years before the Bantu people. These pygmie people were hunter- gatherers and lived in the forests of southwestern Uganda and beyond. These left a small ecological footprint on the forest and lived in harmony with nature. You can as well visit the forest with the batwa people and learn some of their traditional ways of hunting and gathering. This experience also takes place in Buhoma area and in case you are in southern side of Bwindi, you can visit Buniga forest and see the batwa people.
You can also enjoy the Buhoma Village Walk; you will get three hours and have a cultural walk through the village and get to learn the ways as well as the culture of the people that live within Buhoma area along the edge of the park. The village walk is also friendly and knowledgeable about the local culture as well as customs and you will be accompanied by the guides. You will get to view how people make the local crafts like the baskets, beer made from the bananas and the distillery that make the local Waragi Gin from the bananas; you will also meet a traditional healer and get to learn of what was gathered in the ancient forest and how it’s taken and applied to the ailments.
Hiking Tours: This hike through the forest can be one day or longer than that from the north of the park to the south. You can have an overnight stay and then proceed the next day down to scenic Lake Mutanda where you will paddle across in a wooden dugout and then continue to the town of Kisoro. This is one of the famous hike along two trails of Bwindi , but there are also other trails and nature walks and these are from easy to moderate in and near the forest which can be explored on foot and need from an hour to all day long. The hiking is done with a guide and the hikes have become more popular most especially with those to trek the gorillas twice in Buhoma area and the southern part of the park.
There are more hikes and the Trails in and around Bwindi forest. You not only hike through the forest, there are many hikes and nature walks in and outside of the park that can match your fitness. These trails can be found in Ruhija, Buhoma, Nkuringo as well as Rushaga. Some of these hikes are for birding and others are for scenery of the park. These hikes and nature walks are added to your gorilla habituation experience in the park.
Biding watching is also another activity that is carried out in Bwindi forest; this is one of the prime birding destination area in Africa. It has got over 347 species of birds that are recorded in the park. 70 out of these are montane forest birds that occur in the Albertine Rift region and are found in the forest and 22 of the species are endemic to the region. Bwindi forest has been picked as Africa’ Number one birding destination.