Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the derived from a local kikyiga word “Omubwindi and as the world suggests, the forest is almost impassable and is regarded as one of the oldest and un spoilt tropical forest dating back as 25,000 years. According to the latest mountain gorilla census, it was established that half of the worlds endangerd mountain gorillas live in Bwindi. The number mountain gorillas has been estimated to be 820 individuals and out of this, 400 hundred are in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Bwindi Impenetrable National Park remains the only park in the whole world where mountain gorillas co-exist with wild chimpanzees although there is no trekking chimps since no community has been habituated.
UNESCO World Heritage
Because of its importance in protecting given bio diversities, Bwindi Impenetrable forest was recorgnized and up graded to a status of being a world heritage by UNESCO in 1994. Due to its location, altitude and influence of local winds, Bwindi Impenetrable National park receives approximately 1,500mm of rain every year and almost all the time. Its altitude ranes between 1,106 to 2,607 with the lowest point located in the North (Buhoma) and the highest point in the southern section Bwindi in Rushaga and Nkuringo.
Gorilla Families and Birds
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest has several habituated gorilla families located in different sections of the Park. Three gorilla families are in Buhoma and these are Mubare, Habinyanja and Rushegura. Ruhija side has Oruzogo, Bitukura and Kyaguriro. Nkuringo side located in the southern part of Bwindi has one gorilla family known as Nkuringo while Rushaga in the south as well has Mishaya, Nshongi, Busingye, Bweza and Kahungye making it 11 habituated gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Over 350 bird species have been recorded here and about 25 of them are Albertine endemics.
Accessing Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park can be accessed by air as Aerolink operates daily flights from Entebbe to Kihihi Airstrip for the northern and eastern side and to Kisoro airstrip for the southern parts of Rushaga and Nkuringo. The drive time from Kihihi or Kisoro to nearby lodges is approximately 1-2 hours. When driving from Entebbe to the northern part of Buhoma, it may take up to 9 hours and 10 hours if one is driving to Nkuringo or Rushaga. One can use the Masaka Mbarara, Ntungamo, kihihi, Butogota and then to Buhoma or He can path through Mbarara to Bushenyi, follow the ishasha road to Kihihi and then Butogota to Buhoma. For those going to the south, they drive through Kabale to Kisoro and to respective regions.
Popular Lodges in the Northern part include Gorilla Forest Camp, Bwindi Volcanoes Lodge, Buhoma Lodge, Mahogany Springs, Gorilla Resort, Engagi Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Lake Kitandara Tented Camp, Buhoma Community Bandas, and Bwindi Gorilla Conservation Camp. In the East, we have Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge, Gorilla Mist Camp, Ruhija Community Rest Camp among others while in the south (Nkuringo) we have Clouds Mountain gorilla lodge, Nkuringo gorilla Camp, and chameleon hill camp. In Rushaga, there is Gorilla Safari Lodge, Gorilla Valley lodge and other small lodges
Top Activities Done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Gorilla trekking is one of the popular tourist activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park were you get a chance to trek one of the few habituated gorilla families in the forest. Depending on which region of Bwindi you are holding permits, experienced guides and trackers will accompany your party on an early morning trek into the dense rain forest on the mountain slopes. The journey, through dense foliage and up steep climbs, is abundantly rewarded with the lifetime experience of viewing mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. You will have an opportunity to be within metres of these magnificent apes, sharing in their daily lives and experiencing their day-to-day activities. Mountain gorillas are extremely rare with only an estimated 700 remaining in the wild. This is an experience you won’t soon forget! Mountain gorillas are wild animals and, as such, sightings cannot be guaranteed. However viewing success rates are over 90%.
Batwa Cultural Experience in Bwindi
The Batwa commonly known as the Pygmies in most books are short people who used to inhabit Bwindi forest as their home but when it was gazatted as a National Park, they were chased out and have now started to live a normal life. They used to feed on wild animals, honey and herbs and could stay I trees or caves. This three to four hour hike to a Batwa village in the midst of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest will allow you the opportunity to meet Batwa elders and their families and learn about their daily lives. Through the assistance of a skilled interpreter you will discover the unique traditions and practices the Batwa people including their deep attachment to the forest, the cuisine they enjoy, how they harvest their food, the style of their homes, and their burial rites. Visitors are even given the chance to learn how to light a fire with just a stick and how to shoot a target with traditional weapons.
Hiking/Walking Safari through Bwindi
Visitors have an opportunity for a guided nature walk between Nkuringo in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to Buhoma on the opposite side of the park. This three to four hour guided hike provides a leisurely opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of the forest, view the native wildlife, and learn about the many animal and plant species present in the park. You may meet the gorillas on your way through the forest. This walk can start from Buhoma to Nkuringo or from Nkuringo to Buhoma.
Village Community Walk in Bwindi
You can participate in any of the community walks through the local villages surrounding Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Optional activities include visits to a traditional home, local orphanage or school, banana brewing demonstrations and even meeting traditional medicinal healers. This three to four hour walk is easily tailored to your individual schedule and interests. Village walks are popular in Buhoma, Rushaga and Nkuringo.
Suggested Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Safaris
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Criteria: vii, x
Designated: 1994 (18th session)
Reference no. 682
State Party: Uganda