Closest airstrips to Bwindi and Kibale National Park
Several tourists have shown interest in visiting Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Kibale National Park because of the gorillas and chimpanzees found in the national parks, respectively. There are two ways of getting to the gardens: by air and by road transport, with flying being the fastest way. Entebbe International Airport is the entry point for all tourists in the country, and Kajjansi is the only other airstrip within the city center that charters flights to Kibale and Bwindi National Parks.
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Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in southwest Uganda and is best known for being home to half of the world’s remaining endangered Mountain Gorillas. Bwindi is a top destination in Uganda, with tourists going for gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation excursions, which are only carried out in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was first reserved in 1932, became a sanctuary in 1964, and was established as a national park in 1991 to protect and conserve the endangered Mountain gorillas. The Park has a wide range of wildlife, including mammals, several bird species, butterflies, and primates, the top tourist attractions in the National Park. You can get to Bwindi by driving from Entebbe or Kampala for 9 to 10 hours or flying to the nearest airstrip.
Several airstrips near Bwindi have eased and made transportation to the remote national Park easy and faster, including the Kisoro and Kihihi Airstrips. The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority is currently managing them like all the other airstrips and the International Airport, which is Entebbe International Airport. In most cases, departures from Entebbe are done early in the morning, whereas others are done mid-afternoon, and it takes one hour and a half to get to the Kisoro or Kihihi airstrip.
Two local airlines service airstrips in the country: Fly Uganda and Aerolink Uganda Limited. These can only be used for domestic travel within the country, and direct charter flights can easily be organized to all tourist destinations within the country at the nearest airstrip. Since these can only be operated domestically, tourists must get to Entebbe International Airport before connecting to Bwindi for a gorilla trek.
Aerolink travel timetable to Kisoro and Kihihi Airstrip
Entebbe to Kihihi, 7:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
10:15 am 11:25 am
Kihihi to Entebbe 9:45am 11:25am
Entebbe to Kisoro 7:00 am 8:10 am
Kisoro to Entebbe 8:25am 11:25am
Kisoro Airstrip is located near the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, near Kabale and Kanungu districts. Kisoro Airstrip is one of Uganda’s suitable upcountry airstrips, and it has helped reduce the long distances to get to Bwindi by driving. Kisoro airstrip connects to the Nkuringo and Rushaga sectors in the southern part of Bwindi.
Entebbe International Airport
Being the main International Airport in the country, this is the only entry point for all tourists, and it’s where all those driving to Bwindi are picked up. Charter flights from Entebbe can easily be arranged once you arrive in the country, and it will take you an hour and a half to get to Bwindi.
This is one of the smallest airstrips in Uganda and is mainly used by tourists to travel to the remote Bwindi National Park, which is found in the south-western part of Uganda. It operates on only domestic flights, and you will be shocked to discover that it is the 3rd largest airstrip in Uganda despite its small size. Kihihi Airstrip is located in Kanungu district and was named after Kihihi town. Its official code is KHX. The small Kihihi airstrip is strategically located and eases travel to the Buhoma section of Bwindi and the nearby eastern sector of Ruhija bordering Queen Elizabeth National Park, home to the climbing lions and other wildlife species.
Fly from the Entebbe International Park or Kajjansi Airstrip for an hour and a half, saving a long drive of 9 to 10 hours. It is the perfect option for tourists with limited time on the safari; however, it is expensive if you travel on a budget.
Kigali International Airport
Known as KGL, the Kigali International Airport is a viable option for tourists planning on visiting Bwindi, even though it is located in Rwanda. It takes 3 to 4 hours to get to Bwindi from Kigali, and flying from Kigali allows you to explore both countries.
There are also other airstrips besides the two major ones, including Mweya Airstrip, Kasese Airstrip, and Mbarara Airstrip.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has four sectors: the Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo sectors, which have different habituated gorilla families. The south part of Bwindi has the Nkuringo and Rushaga sectors, located near the Mgahinga National Park, best known for Golden Monkey and Gorilla trekking. Buhoma and Ruhija are situated in the north and northeastern parts of Bwindi, respectively, and they are close to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Combining your gorilla trekking experience with other safaris is easy because other tourist attractions are located near the National Park.
Flying to Bwindi can be recommended to different people, but it is mainly used by luxurious clients and those with limited time on their safaris. We also recommend flying to Bwindi for the elderly, who might not wish to take the long drive of over 10 hours and disabled tourists. Note, however, that even though we recommend flying, it depends on the tourist’s budget.
Besides gorilla trekking in Bwindi, other activities that you can carry out include bird watching, wildlife viewing, guided nature walks, community trips to the Batwa people (locals who used to live within the national Park but now stay around the Park doing odd jobs), and primate viewing.
Kibale National Park
Kibale National Park is best known for chimpanzee trekking due to the large number of chimpanzees found in the area, leading to the Park being known as the capital of primates. Kibale is located in the western part of Uganda and can be reached by either driving or flying. Driving takes a while, whereas flying saves a lot of time for tourists in a hurry and those who prefer a luxury trip to the National Park. Kibale National Park has been said to be the best destination for chimpanzee trekking, and other activities that you can carry out while here besides tracking include bird watching, village trips, chimpanzee habituation experiences, research, and guided nature walks, among others.
Which airlines fly to Kibale National Park?
Chartered flights to Kibale National Park can easily be arranged daily through the domestic airlines within the country; however, you should note that there are no direct flights to Kibale, and all the flights from Kampala will land at the Kasese airstrip, where a safari vehicle arranged by the tour operator you used will be waiting to take you for the remainder of the journey to Kibale National Park.
Fly Uganda and Aerolink are the only authorized airlines that operate domestic flights from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kasese Airstrip, where you will be driven to the National Park for 30 minutes. We advise that you book early, at least 2 to 3 days in advance, to avoid last-minute interruptions and poor service from the chosen airline. The different airlines have their timetables, and booking early will ensure that your date is considered and the flight is ready for that specific day.
Booking domestic flights between National Parks is done by the local tour operator, and all you have to do is show up for the trip. Kibale has two airstrips that have easy access to it: the Kasese airstrip (60 km using the dirt road from Kibale) and the Nyakisharara airstrip in Mbarara, which is about 100 km from the Park while driving on tarmac.
Activities carried out in Kibale
Kibale National Park has over 13 different primate species, and some of the activities that are carried out here include the following:
Chimpanzee tracking: This is the main activity carried out in Kibale with over 1500 chimpanzees. The chances of seeing chimpanzees in the Park are very high because they can be seen almost everywhere, but you will need a chimpanzee tracking permit to access the chimpanzees.
Chimpanzee habituation: Just like gorilla habituation, chimpanzees have been habituated to get used to human presence. You will also need a chimpanzee habituation permit, and unlike chimpanzee trekking, only a few people are allowed to participate in the habituation process daily.
Explore the crater Lakes: Kibale National Park is strategically located, so trekkers can climb the Nyamirima hill and view the adjacent crater lakes.
Birding: The National Park is home to over 350 registered bird species, including migratory and endemic birds. These are best seen during the wet season, and some of the birds that you should look out for include the black-eared ground thrush, African Pitta, collared Apalis, Brown-chested Alethe, Blue-chested kingfisher, and the Little Greenbul, among others.
Guided nature walks: Guided nature walks in Kibale can be carried out all year round, but the best time is during the dry season when an armed ranger and a tour guide will escort you. During the walks, you will be able to explore the National Park and see most of the wildlife there.
Similarities between Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Kibale National Park
Although the two National parks are located in different parts of the country, there are a few similarities, mainly that they are home to primates. Bwindi is home to the endangered Mountain gorillas, and Kibale is home to over 1500 chimpanzees.
You will need a gorilla trekking permit and a chimpanzee trekking permit to gain access to both national parks because of the conservation policies put in place to stop poaching and the extinction of the two primates.
Some rules and regulations are followed while trekking in the two national parks, and they are the same. These rules are to be followed by all tourists intending to trek. Some of them include:
- Not getting too close to the primates.
- Only hiking if you are healthy.
- Not eating or drinking in the presence of the primates.
- Not smoking.
- Keeping a distance of 7 to 10 meters from the primates.
- Not littering the national Park.
- Turning off the shutter light while taking photos of the primates.
Besides flying to Bwindi and Kibale, there are other ways to get to the national parks, and the most scenic way is by road. It is a long journey but worth it, and some of the guidelines that you should follow while driving include:
- Stay away from driving at night since you are not used to the roads, and it might be unsafe.
- Avoid walking by yourself, especially at night.
- Please get a local guide who knows where to be on the safe side. local guides know more about the traffic rules and the best roads to use when driving to Kibale National Park and Bwindi.
Sometimes, it does not matter whether you are flying to the nearest airstrip to Kibale or Bwindi or even driving; you should know and remember that both destinations are worth visiting due to what they offer.
Contact us and let us help you plan your trip to Bwindi and Kibale by booking your flight and ensuring you have a smooth safari.