Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the most beautiful places on earth found on the edge of the Albertine Rift in the south-western corner of Uganda. This 321 square kilometer Park is not just an ordinary Park but rather the home to the endangered, rare and most sought-after Mountain gorillas that exist in only three African Countries in the whole World. Established into a National Park in 1991 and designated a UNESCO World heritage Site in 1994, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has since become a popular destination for tourists interested in being up-close with their giant apes.
Wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
When you talk of extraordinary wildlife, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a biodiversity hotspot with over 120 species of mammals including primates with the Mountain gorillas being the most popular. There are presently over 20 habituated gorilla families in this Park, thus making it the most endowed Gorilla Park. Other mammals present in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are the colobus monkeys, Chimpanzees, L’Hoests monkeys, African elephants, Leopards, African buffaloes, Red-tailed monkeys, African golden cats, Vervet monkeys, African civets, De Brazza monkeys, Olive baboons, Blue monkeys and many others. There are also several Amphibians such as chameleons, frogs, geckos as well as a number of reptile species in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Birdlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is also rich with avifauna totaling to over 350 species of birds including over 23 Albertine Rift endemic species of birds. Some of the most sought-after species of birds in this Park are the Rwenzori batis, handsome francolin, Chapin’s flycatcher, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, short-tailed warblers, African green broadbill, African Olive pigeon, Grey crowned cranes, Mountain wagtail, Double-toothed barbets, Dusky twin spot, Sooty falcon, African flycatcher, great blue turaco, African hill babblers and black bee-eaters among others.
Other attractions in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The diversity in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is not limited to only wildlife and bird species but does beyond to waterfalls, unique tree species and butterflies.
There are over 200 species of butterflies in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, hence making it one of the few places for butterfly watching in the country.
Warm and friendly People
Local communities living around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are some of the friendliest people you will ever encounter in a lifetime. Their traditional way of life and culture will leave everlasting memories.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a home to over 1000 flowering plants that include up to 165 tree species, more than 100 fern species and many others that are rarely spotted in other National Parks in the country.
Waterfalls are also found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the most popular and frequently visited is the Muyanga waterfall near Buhoma.
Tourist Activities conducted in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Mountain gorilla trekking
Mountain gorilla trekking is the main activity conducted within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and more than 50% of the tourists to this destination visit it for this purpose. This Park is known for sheltering more than half of the total 1004 mountain gorillas and also has the highest number of habituated gorilla families distributed throughout the four sectors of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. The Gorilla groups are Rushegura, Habinyanja, Mubare, Christmas, Katwe, Nkuringo, Bikingi, Bushaho, Mukiza, Kyaguliro, Bitukura, Oruzogo, Mucunguzi, Kutu, Rwigi, Mishaya, Busingye, Kahungye, Bweza and Nshongi. Spending one hour with one of these families at $600 is one of the best decisions you will ever take.
Gorilla Habituation Experience
The Gorilla Habituation Experience is not different from gorilla trekking when it comes to the process but the difference is that the activity is conducted with gorilla families still undergoing habituation (process of making wild gorilla used to human presence), tourists get to spend four hours with the gorilla family instead of the one hour during the usual Gorilla trekking adventure and also it is more costly ($1500) but it’s worthwhile.
The best way to discover the entire beauty of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is to undertake nature walks/or hiking. With more than 100 kilometers of well-maintained hiking trails running through the forest floor, visitors are rewarded with the views of the primate species especially vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, other mammals especially mongoose, buffaloes, elephants, warthogs, butterflies, bird species, extraordinary tree species and waterfalls. Some of the popular hiking trails are the Ruizi River trail, Munyaga River trail, Mubwindi Swamp Trail, Ivy River Trail, Habinyanja (Railegh) Trail, Kashasha River Trail, Rushura Hill Trail, Muzabajiro trail and Bamboo Trail among others.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the top 10 Important Birding Areas of Uganda with over 348 species of birds including the Albertine Rift endemic species. Most sough-after species are the handsome francolin, Grauer’s Rush warblers, Rwenzori Batis and Kivu Ground Thrush among others.
Cultural encounters in Bwindi are usually conducted as independent activities or in the evening after gorilla trekking or nature walks. Several community projects exist around the Park to offer visitors with a taste of culture but the popular and recognized ones are the Buniga Forest Nature Walk, Buhoma Community Tours, Nyundo Community Eco-Trails, Nkuringo Community Conservation and Development Foundation, Nkuringo Cultural Center, Rubuguri Village Walk and many others.
Biking/Cycling Tours in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are mainly (but not limited to) arranged by Bwindi Community Rest camp under the Ride 4 a Woman organization and takes tourists through parts of the Forest to see some of the wildlife species and the nearby community.
Other activities conducted within and around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are Butterfly watching and volunteering among others.
Where to stay
Just like the rich attractions, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is endowed with numerous luxury, midrange and budget accommodation facilities across the four sectors of the Park. The best luxury accommodation facilities to spend nights during your visit to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are Lake Kitandara Camp, Clouds Mount Gorilla Lodge, Gorilla Safari Lodge, Buhoma Lodge, Mahogany Springs Camp, Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest camp and Chameleon Hill Lodge among others.
The most breathtaking mid-range accommodation facilities to spend nights during your visit to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include Eco Marvels Gorilla Resort, Nkuringo Gorilla Camp, Lake Kitandara Bwindi Camp, Gorilla Mist Camp, Engagi Lodge, Gorilla Valley Lodge and Silverback Lodge among others.
The best selected budget places to spend nights during your visit to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are Ruhija Gorilla Friends Resort, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Gift of Nature Lodge, Wagtail Eco Safari Camp, Bwindi Guesthouse, Ruhija Community Rest Camp, Nshongi Camp, Broadbill Forest Camp and Bwindi View Bandas among others.
Best time to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is open for visitation all year round because all the activities can be undertaken at any time of the year. However, different seasons are perfect for certain activities for instance the most ideal time for gorilla trekking, nature walks, hiking and the Habituation experience is the dry months of January, February, June, July, August, September and December because the trails are less muddy and slippery during such times.
The wet months of March, April, May, October and November are perfect for bird watching although you can also undertake the other activities. Tourists avoid these months because trails tend to be muddy and slippery but due to thick vegetation, mountain gorillas have plenty of food thus won’t move to longer distances in search of food.
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in the south-west of Uganda, about 464 kilometers/8-10 hours’ drive from Kampala and can be accessed by air or road transport. For tourists opting for the former, chattered flights are arranged from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kayonza, Kihihi or Kisoro airstrips then connect to the Park by road.
For road transport, several routes are used to connect from Kampala to Bwindi, but tourists are recommended to choose the most convenient one depending on the sector visited. One of the routes to use is Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara-Ntungamo-Rukungiri-Kihihi-Buhoma for tourists planning to visit the northern sector.
Another popular route is Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara-Kabale-Ruhija for tourists planning to visit the eastern sector of Ruhija. For tourists visiting both Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks, connect through the southern sector of Ishasha where you will see the tree climbing lions to Buhoma sector Of Bwindi.