Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, covering 32,092 ha, is one of the largest areas in East Africa which still has Afro-montane lowland forest extending to well within the montane forest belt. Located on the eastern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley and believed to be a Pleistocene refugium, the property is a biodiversity hotspot with possibly the greatest number of tree species for its altitude in East Africa. It is also host to a rich fauna including a number of endemic butterflies and one of the richest mammalian assemblages in Africa. Home to almost half of the world’s mountain gorilla population, the property represents a conservation frontline as an isolated forest of outstanding biological richness surrounded by an agricultural landscape supporting one of the highest rural population densities in tropical Africa. Community benefits arising from the mountain gorilla and other ecotourism may be the only hope for the future conservation of this unique site.
Looking deep into the expressive brown eyes of gentle giants is surely the most exciting and poignant wildlife encounter that Africa has to offer, but we should not let it distract from Bwindi’s broader biodiversity, a result of its immense antiquity and altitude span of from 1,160 to 2,607m. The National park has 90 mammal species, including 11 primates, of which the black-and-white colobus monkey, with its lovely flowing white tail, is prominent. The forest birding ranks with the best in Uganda, with 23 highly localized Albertine endemics present.
Size of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
One of the largest areas in East Africa which still has Afro-montane lowland forest extending to well within the montane forest belt covering area coverage of 331sq Km bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo on the western corridor.
Location of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a large primeval forest located in southwestern Uganda in the Kanungu District. The forest is on the edge of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift, at elevations ranging from 1,160 to 2,607 meters.
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi can be accessed either by air from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kihihi airstrip for clients who have Buhoma gorilla permits and Ruhija gorilla permits or in Kisoro airstrip for clients with gorilla permits in Rushaga, Nkuringo, and Mgahinga gorilla national park.
Aerolink Uganda and Kampala executive aviation operate both scheduled and charter flights to the respect airstrips.
Kampala-Kabale-Kanungu-Buhoma follows a tarmac highway until Kabale for about 414km spending about 6-8 hrs. And then connect on a Maram road through Kanungu and Kanyantorogo for about 120km to Buhoma. For the latter route, it is highly recommended to have a 4WD vehicle and this journey can take about 4-5 hrs.
Kampala-Kabale-Ruhija-Buhoma which follows the same route as the above first option except the Kabale-Ruhija-Buhoma section is about 95km on a Maram road and can take about 3-4 hrs. Also highly recommended having a 4WD vehicle.
Kampala-Kabale-Nkuringo also follows the same as the above routes to Kabale and an additional 105km about 4-5 hrs. Drive on a mountainous Maram road to Nkuringo from Kabale. Some people prefer spending a night in Kisoro which is about 80km from Kabale and in the morning proceed to Nkuringo for gorilla tracking.
Kampala-Ntungamo-Rukungiri-Kihihi-Buhoma is regarded as the quickest and most direct of all the routes from Kampala and follows a tarmac route to Rukungiri about 390km followed by Maram roads to Buhoma for about 82km.
There is also a route that goes through Queen Elizabeth National Park via Kihihi and to Buhoma passing through the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park famed for the tree-climbing lions. Sometimes this route is not favored because trucks tend to get stuck during the rainy season causing traffic and delays.
Things to do in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda
When most people think of Bwindi Impenetrable national park, they think of mountain gorilla tracking in Africa, which is rightly so because it is the main attraction. However, Bwindi being a heavily dense rainforest, it is home to many birds and animals and several other activities.
Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Forest
Bwindi is home to half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. Gorilla tracking is done daily after purchasing a gorilla-tracking permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. You are advised to book your permit at least 3 months prior to secure your day especially if you prefer a certain location. Only 8 individuals from 15 years of age are permitted to visit a gorilla family per day.
Bwindi should be your choice. It is easily accessible for birding with birding trails in the forest leading to the different areas including the waterfall trail. It is home to about 350 species of birds which include 23 Albertine Rift endemics and 14 of which are recorded nowhere else in Uganda. There are excellent site guides in the communities who are very knowledgeable about the birds in the area especially the endemics. These join you as you take your trip into the forest re-enforcing the team you will have started with on your trip.
Nature and waterfalls walk
There are various trails into the forest for your different interests. You have trails leading to beautiful waterfalls where you can dive in the water. You walk along with an armed Uganda wildlife ranger guide for your protection in case you meet a wild animal but also as a guide. 6km walk around the hill where you have chances of interacting with primates and birds.
Mountain Hiking and biking
Kigezi region where Bwindi impenetrable forest is located in a mountainous area with beautiful scenery. Most lodges have bikes you can rent per day to take on the special trails created in the community otherwise ask them for a project you can rent from. Ivi river trail from Buhoma Park headquarters to Ivi River organized by ‘UWA’.
Community walks and Cultural experiences
Visiting Batwa who people that lived in the forest for many years. Due to pressure from conservation, they were relocated to the nearby villages and you visit their new homesteads and interact with them and share how life was before and how life is of current.
When to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda
Bwindi is open for gorilla trekking all year long, but the best times to go are from June to August and December to February. At these times, the forest trails are drier and therefore less slippery. Also, your chance of a dry gorilla viewing experience is higher during these months.
Where to stay in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda
Bwindi Forest has four gorilla trekking areas where travelers can stay while on safari and below is our pick of the best lodges per sector.
- Gorilla forest camp
- Buhoma lodge
- Bwindi lodge
- Bakiga lodge
- Gorilla mist lodge
- Broadbill forest camp
- 4 gorillas Lodge
- Ichumbi gorilla lodge
- Nkuringo mountain gorilla lodge
- Chameleon hill on Lake Mutanda
- Gorilla heights lodge
- Clouds Mountain gorilla lodge
OTHER BWINDI SAFARI TOURS
THINGS TO DO
|Gorilla tracking experience|
|Gorilla habituation Experience|
|tropical waterfall hikes|
|Batwa pygmy and Village walks|
HOW TO GET THERE
|How to get to Bwindi forest|
|3 Day Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Safari from Entebbe|
|4 Days Bwindi Double Trek Gorilla Safari|
|5 Days Budget Uganda Gorillas & Lake Bunyonyi Safari|
|5 Days Fly in Bwindi Gorilla Safari|
|5 Days Bwindi gorillas and Lake Bunyonyi|
WHEN TO GO
|Best time to visit Bwindi forest|
WHERE TO STAY
|Chameleon hill lodge|
|Ichumbi gorilla lodge|
|Sanctuary gorilla forest camp|
|Haven lodge Buhoma|
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