Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: One of the ancient outstanding evocative forests in Africa, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was gazetted a National Park in 1991 to conserve and protect the mountain Gorillas which were at the edge of extinction. The forest before was a home to the Batwa Pygmies who lived in the forest as gatherers and hunters, when the government wanted to gazette the forest forcefully evicted these people without either their consent or compensation which turned them into scoters to areas and communities around the forests.
Due to Bwindi forest rich biodiversity and uniqueness of the flora the forest was declared a UNESCO world heritage site. Bwind Impenetrable forests accommodates half of the mountain gorillas in accordance to the latest gorillas census of 2019 the park accommodated 459 mountain gorillas and in the world there was about 1064 gorillas counted in the wild.
Geographically, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in the southwestern Uganda covering districts of Kisoro and Kanungu seated in the arrays of the Albertine Rift-Vakkey. The forest is wrapping with conical tropics of rolling landscape, as the name suggests, the forest is made up of thick forests or highlands and valleys where trekkers have to penetrate in order to watch the species.
Accessing Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located southwestern from Kampala capital city. It can be reached by either road from Kampala or by a chartered plane from either Entebbe airport to kajjansi airstrip. By road it’s a long day journey driving from Kampala –Masaka – Mbarara to Kabale to Kanungu or Kisoro road about 8/9 hour drive (534km).
The forest park is 331 sq/km wide and its slopes extends on abroad altitude range of 1447m above sea level and enabling the habitats ranging from lowland to montane. The broad altitude span is habitant for incredible and spectacular diversity of flora and fauna with about 120 different mammal species, over 3500 bird species.
With no doubt one of the world’s greatest wildlife experiences in thrill of a close encounter with the solitary mountain gorillas in their natural sanctuary. Bwindi is the best place in the world to see mountain gorillas up close and having a look at these critically endangered species is a lifetime experience.
Gorilla trekking is the most done safari activity at the park and bwindi impenetrable forest national park is regarded as one of the most visited parks in Uganda. Before tracking, one must have a tracking permit, which is procure prior to tracking date, it’s advisable to reserve/book your permit at least 2 month before the tracking date, a gorilla permit costs $700/ person. Few travelers to Uganda leave minus visiting this incredible park to participate in this exciting activity gorilla trekking. The activity is done daily in the park in all the 4 sectors of bwindi including Buhoma sector, Ruhija sector, Nkuringo, and Rushaga. Only eight members are allowed to trek the gorillas in each gorilla sector.
Gorilla trekking activities begins very early in the morning after an early reporting at the park headquarters to receive short briefings about the dos and don’ts while with the gorillas and also getting assigned to the gorilla family and ranger guide. The gorilla session may last from 1-6 hours or even full day depending to where the gorillas last spent their night from. And once they are met you are strictly allowed only one hour with them while watching their behaviors as well as taking as many photos and videos with them.
Gorilla trekking activity requires a lot of preparations and before enroll into the forest one should carry some necessities which may include; Jungle boots, gloves, light warm cloth, pairs of trouser both ladies and gents, at least 2 litters of drinking water, water proof cloth, binocular and other tracking useful thing you may need to carry.
Other rare sightings while in the park for lucky visitors may include; forest elephants, duikers, bushbucks, African golden cats and some few primate species including L’Hoest monkey, Chimpanzees but on very rare occasions. Sighting over 100 bird species daily is possible at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi Park can be accessed from its four different gates/sectors of gorilla trekking as can be indicated on your gorilla permit. These entries have different habituated gorilla families that offer the ultimate gorilla experience to gorilla trekkers.
The famous known Buhoma gate leads to park headquarters, the section has the oldest habituated gorilla family and currently has four habituated gorilla families including; Rushegura, Habinyanja, Mubara and Katwe family. Buhoma is located in the north of the park and can easily be accessed from Kabale and Rukungiri. Buhoma has the most accessible gorillas, the nature walk here takes through three waterfalls and finding the Batwa experience.
Ruhija sector. Located in the northeastern of the park, the sector can be accessed through Kabale or Buhoma 2 hour drive from either direction. The section has four habituated gorilla families including Mukiza, Oruzogo, Bitukura and Kyaguriro families. The nature walk trekking gorillas through the big bamboo swamp that originated the name Bwindi.
Rushaga sector. Located in the southeastern of the park, the sector harbors the biggest number of habituated gorilla families, has 40 gorilla trekking permits daily and the families include; Bushingye, Bweeza, Kahungye, Mishaya, Nshongi and Bikingi family still undergoing habituation. At Rushaga visitor one can decide to spend more four hours with gorilla for the habituation process, there also accession appearing of elephants.
Gorilla habituation experience
Gorilla habituation experience is the process of moving in the presence of gorillas with a group of armed ranger guides in the forest and this activity allows only members. The activity offers trekkers more time with the gorillas as they try to teach them become familiar to human presence, all mountain gorillas you see which are ready for trekking first undergo habituation, and this activity is done by researchers, and park ranger who start following up an emerged gorilla group learning its characters, their movements, and general behaviors of the family. The habituation process can last for several times until when the gorillas are seen used to human presence. Uganda is the only safari destination where gorilla habituation can be done safely and this is done in Bwindi Impenetrable forest National Park.
Nkuringo sector. Located in southwestern direction of the park, the section has the smallest number of habituated gorilla families and currently has three habituated gorilla families including Bushaho, Nkuringo and Christmas family. The sector can be accessed from Kisoro or Rushaga, the sector is regarded to have the most entertaining gorillas, at the sector gives the overview of the Virunga Volcanos, Lake Edward and Rwenzories.
The Batwa cultural trail the community owned initiative takes you to know how these people lived along with mountain gorillas in the forest before their eviction in 1991, here of their legendary tales, entertainment and other activities including hunting demonstrations, crafts, mushroom gathering, and bee keeping at US$50
Best time to visit Bwindi national park
Gorilla trekking is the activity which can be done any time of the year depending on the client dates of travel. Although there are two weather seasons in the region that’s the dry seasons and wet seasons. the dry season is always the more delightful seasons for an incredible gorilla trekking adventures and these can be encountered in the months of June to mid-September and December to February this is so because the path to meet the gorillas are not so challenging as compared to the rainy season. The wet season which is commonly termed as low seasons due to low turn up of trekkers and this is due to various factors. The wet weather always come in the months of March to May and from Mid-September to November that’s when rain pours come and its experienced with low temperatures which tend to fall to about 17OC, forests are misty and moist all day