Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the most visited national parks in Uganda because it gives travelers the best of a Safaris Uganda tour package. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in south western Uganda and is known for being a habitat for the endangered gorilla species. During a visit to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, tourists engage in searching for these gorillas in their natural habitat in the impenetrable forest.
This national park is situated close to the Virunga conservation area which includes other national parks shared between Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo such as Mgahinga national park, Virunga national park, and Volcanoes national park respectively. All these national parks inhabit mountain gorillas.
Bwindi forest was gazetted into a national park to protect the endangered mountain gorillas within its boundaries.
Bwindi impenetrable national park consists of an impenetrable rainforest which is also habitat to a variety of wildlife and bird species that thrive in this national park. The beauty of this tourist hub can be experienced during treks along different trails in the forest.
The impenetrable name given to Bwindi national park is a description of the tropical rainforest where the gorillas are found which is swampy and dark. This national park is also rugged due to the fact that it is part of the kigezi highlands formed through the warping of the western rift valley.
Bwindi impenetrable national park is also a water catchment area and the source of many rivers that drain into Lake Mutanda and Lake Edward. The rivers include River Ivi, River Munyaga, River Ihihizo, & River Ntengyere. This national park is of great importance to the people living around it.
Uganda Wildlife Authority manages Bwindi national park and promotes conservation of the wildlife species. They are also in charge of formulating the necessary rules and regulations of gorilla trekking and providing the necessary permits for gorilla trekking.
Gorilla trekking refers to the act of looking for the gorillas in their natural habitat. In Bwindi national park, the gorillas are found in different sectors around the national park which include the Rushaga sector, the Buhoma sector, the Nkuringo sector, and Ruhija sector.
To engage in gorilla trekking in Bwindi national park, tourists are expected to book permits for gorilla trekking in advance with help from a tour operator. Permits are booked in advance so that a gorilla family may be allocated for the tourists who wish to engage in gorilla trekking.
The advance booking is done about 5 months before the date of gorilla trekking in Bwindi national park because the gorilla permits get sold out quickly especially during peak seasons. The peak seasons are in months of January, February, June, July, August, and December.
The gorilla families found in the different sectors of Bwindi national park include Rushegura, Habiyanja, Mubare, Nkuringo, Bitukura, Oruzogo, Mishaya, Nshongi, Kahungye, Busingye and Bweza. Tourists are divided into groups and they are allowed to visit one gorilla family and spend one hour with that gorilla group during gorilla trekking.
Buhoma sector of Bwindi national park rewards birders with an amazing experience and the gorilla families in this sector include Rushegura, Mubare, and habiyanja. This sector can be accessed by road from Ntungamo and Rukungiri via Butogota to finally reach the buhoma sector.
Another sector for gorilla trekking in Bwindi national park is the Rushaga sector. This sector is located in the southern parts of the national park in Kisoro. The gorilla families in this sector include nshongi, busingye, kahungye, mishaya, and bweza. Rushaga is also known to be the sector where gorilla habituation takes place and it can be accessed through Kabale from Kampala. The attractions which can be seen from this sector include Virunga ranges, Lake Mutanda.
Gorilla habituation refers to the process of making the gorillas get used to the presence of humans in their habitat and it engages the tourists in an up-close interaction with the gorillas for a given time period. The cost for gorilla habituation experience is USD 1500 per person.
Rushaga sector can also be accessed by flight and connections can be made from Rwanda through the border of Uganda and Rwanda in Kisoro followed by a drive to rushaga sector. Nkuringo sector is found in the same area as rushaga and the gorilla families in this sector include nkuringo, bikingi, and Bushaho.
Bwindi national park also has another sector which is the ruhija sector found in the eastern part of the national park. This sector can be accessed by road via Kabale or buhoma or kibale town. Flights to the Ruhija sector are made from the kihihi airstrip followed by a drive to reach the sector. Gorilla families in this sector include bitukura, oruzogo, Mukiza, Kyaguriro.
Ruhija sector is not as hilly as Rushaga and nkuringo sector and is recommended for tourists who cannot manage difficult and strenuous hikes during gorilla trekking such as the elderly tourists. Attractions that can be seen from this sector include Lake Bunyonyi which is the deepest lake in Uganda and it offers many recreational activities for tourists such as canoe rides, swimming, and many others.
Attractions which tourists view during trips to Bwindi national park include;
- Gorillas are the major attraction in Bwindi national park and they can be seen during the gorilla tracking activity which is carried out in the company of the rangers. A specific number of people are allowed to spend time with the gorillas to avoid overcrowding the gorillas and spreading diseases to the gorillas.
- Batwa people have a unique culture and they originally lived within the Bwindi forest and are referred to as “keepers of the forest”. Their general well-built and pygmy nature is also among the reasons why tourists engage in cultural encounters during visits to Bwindi national park.
- Bird species can also be seen during visits to Bwindi national park which is the ideal habitat for the birds which can be seen in the forest. Birds in this national park include woodpeckers, bee-eaters, broadbills, blue-spotted wood dove, crested guinea fowl, grey crowned crane, pink-footed puff back, yellow-rumped tinker bird, dark capped bulbul, red-headed blue bill and many others.
Bwindi national park engages tourists in a variety of tourist activities such as;
- Gorilla trekking engages tourists in looking for the gorillas in their natural habitat. This activity is done by a maximum of 8 people and children aged 15 and below are not permitted to participate in gorilla trekking.
- Nature walks in Bwindi national park are carried out along different trails which include Munyanga river trail, the waterfall trail, rushura hill trail, Muzabajiro loop trail, river Ivi trail. The different trails lead tourists to many beautiful sceneries in the national park with amazing views.
- Hiking in Bwindi national park is done by many of the tourists visiting this national park and is one of the ways to discover the beauty of Bwindi national park in the company of a guide.
- Cultural encounters involve visiting the legendary forest dwellers who are the Batwa people. The Batwa are a group of pygmies who practice hunting and fruit gathering and depend on the forest for survival. They were evicted from the Bwindi forest by conservationists and sometimes act as guides for tourists during forest walks. During the cultural encounter with the Batwa, you will experience their way of life, how they dress, food and local brew preparation and local craft making.
- Bird watching takes place in Bwindi national park where a variety of bird species can be seen such as African green pigeon, hawks, crowned hornbill, African broadbill, apalis, francolins, cinnamon chested bee-eaters, honeyguides, warblers, and many other bird species can be seen during treks in the forest. Different birding spots within this national park can also be visited such as the waterfall trail, Rubwindi swamp in ruhija.
Bwindi impenetrable national park can be accessed through different means which include;
- By road; from Kampala via Kabale route. This national park can also be accessed from the Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth national park.
- By air/flight; flights are organized by different flight companies in Uganda such as Aerolink to kihihi airstrip followed by a short drive to buhoma in Bwindi Impenetrable national park.
Visits to Bwindi national park on a Uganda Safari can be made all year round and the best time to visit this national park is in the months of June, July, August, December, and February. The rainy seasons do not favor tourist activity due to the slippery trails and growth of the vegetation in the national park.
Accommodation facilities are available for tourists who wish to visit Bwindi national park and they range from luxury accommodation, mid-range accommodation, and budget accommodation to suit the needs of the tourists.
“Visit Bwindi impenetrable national park for an experience with the endangered gorillas in Uganda”