The ultimate Gorilla Experience
At 3315sq km, it’s home to half of the world’s mountain gorillas, whose encounter and consequent eye contact is the most exciting and poignant wildlife encounters in the whole of Africa. With mist covered hillsides, this impenetrable forest is the oldest and most biologically diverse rainforest, with over 400 species of plants. It lies on the edge of the rift valley in southwestern Uganda, and protect at least 120 species of mammals, 346 species of trees, 100species of ferns, 27species of frogs, chameleons, geckos, among many endangered species. It is UNESCO designated.
Bwindi National Park has gorilla tracking as the major tourist attraction 4 Gorilla tracking trailheads. Also 12 groups of mountain gorilla families have been habituated and only 8 tourists booked per group per day. Forest trails in the park lead to various attractions including rivers, waterfalls, swamps and high level of wildlife concentration.
Birding is another attraction that provides great opportunities to see various Albertine rift endemics such as the short- tailed warbler. A 6hour bamboo trail leads to Rwamunyonyi peak, at 2607m, is the highest peak and notable spot for birding, while a 3hr descend to Mubwindi Swamp could lead a visitor to endemic and localized African Green broadbill.
Other rewarding activities are the mountain biking and nature walks to waterfalls and parts of the forest. A short drive north of Buhoma, which sits on the Congo border, offers wonderful hikes along the hill crests and rivers to discover waterfalls, glorious views and the traditional lifestyle and folklore of the Kigezi people.
HOW TO ACCESS THE PARK: This park is located in south west –west Uganda about 530km from Kampala, the capital city. The park can be reached by road from several directions that include:
Through Queen Elizabeth national park (Mweya)-Kihihi-Buhoma. This route passes through Queen Elizabeth National Park’s southerly Ishasha sector, providing a chance for stopover and search for the famous tree climbing lions.
Kampala-Kabale- Kanungu- Buhoma
Kampala-Ntungamo-Rukungiri- Kihihi- Buhoma.
The Kabale- Ruhija-Buhoma
BY AIR TRANSPORT: Travelers can fly from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airfield to modern tarmac airstrip at Kisoro town. Visitors to Buhoma can also charter planes or scheduled flights to Kayonza (near Butogota) or savannah (Kihihi) airstrips.
The main activity in Bwindi impenetrable National Park, it’s a captivating and unforgettable experience which repays more than the effort needed to reach Bwindi. Gorilla tracking can be challenging and one has to be reasonably fit before undertaking to venture into the activity. Registration and briefing at Buhoma, RUhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga visistor receptions commencing at 730hours with general briefing conducted at 800hours. Gorilla tracking starts at 8:30am and can last from few hours to whole day depending on where the gorillas were left the previous day.
Other activities in and around the park, though gorilla tracking is the main attraction, a range of other walks provide more relaxed opportunities to spot birds and monkeys while exploring one of Uganda’s loveliest rain forests. Mountain biking is also a good activity around Bwindi, this is usually done through a well maintained trail 13km of Ivi River from the park office.
The following walks can be arranged to depart in the morning at 9:00am and in the afternoon at 1415hours;
Munyanga River Trail in the valley below Buhoma (park office) provides an ideal short walk to view birds and primates along the forest edge.
Waterfall Trail leads through one of Uganda’s most pristine tracts of rainforest, passing beneath tree ferns, epiphytic ferns, and orchids to visit three sparking waterfalls.
Rushura Hill trail provides expansive views across the plains of the western rift valley to the west and Lake Edward and the Rwenzori Mountains in the north.
Muzabajiro Loop Trail Climbs to the summit of Rukubira Hill for breathtaking views of Bwindi forest, the western Rift valley and Virunga volcanoes.
River Ivi Trail follows an old road through beautiful forest emerging near Nkuringo on the southern edge of the forest. It is highly recommended for bird watchers.