The history of gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park can be traced in the early 90s when the first gorilla family called Mubare was fully habituated and opened up to the public for gorilla trekking experience. In 1993, the first group of tourists officially trekked habituated mountain gorillas, and since then, the rest is history as more gorilla families were then habituated to attract more tourists.
As people showed interest in trekking gorillas in Uganda, three more gorilla families of Rushegura, Habinyanja (In the North), and Nkuringo in the south were later habituated, bringing gorilla groups to four by 3004. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has over 19 gorilla families spread in four locations in the forest’s south, north and Eastern parts.
To trek mountain gorillas just as it is today required one to book a gorilla permit.
Each gorilla permit allowing one to spend one hour with habituated mountain gorillas was costing USD360.00 per person, which was later increased to USD500 in 2015. With the increased demand for gorilla permits, more gorilla families were habituated, bringing the total to nine groups.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has 19 habituated gorilla families spaced in four regions of Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo, and Rushaga. As this was happening and more tourists were coming to see mountain gorillas, the number of gorillas also increased. Currently, the population of mountain gorillas in the world is over 1000 individuals, with over 400 gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi gorilla trekking history was further enhanced by Uganda Wildlife Authority in 2013 by introducing low-season gorilla permits/discounted gorilla permits to give back to society since Uganda was celebrating 50 years of independence. Instead of USD500, permits were reduced to USd350 in May, April, and November, which was later revised to USD450 in 2016, 2017, and 2021 after covid 19 pandemic era. In addition, more lodges to provide accommodation to tourists have been constructed in all regions. To date, one can decide to drive or fly to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park since we now have a charter and scheduled flights to the Park.
About Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was reserved as a forest reserve in 1942. It was later upgraded to a National park in 1992 and is currently referred to as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi National Park was later recognized as a World Heritage site in 1994.
The word Bwindi is a local word meaning Impenetrable, and indeed this forest is thick and with tangled vegetation that has culminated over the years. The double naming of this forest is suitable for its look, as several plants that are thought to be surviving for thousands of years are found here.
The topography of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is covered in volcanic action creating ridges and plateaus on which creepers drape even on slippery valleys too.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a tropical rainforest that receives rain anytime without warning. Annually, the forest receives an average of about 2390 mm of rain.
The temperatures of this forest range from 7 degrees centigrade to about 20 degrees celsius.
This biosphere reserve hosts many wildlife, including about ten primate species, including mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, grey-cheekedand mangabey, and others.
For birding in Uganda, Bwindi impenetrable national park is the best destination to include in your Uganda birding itinerary. The forest is believed to host about 350 bird species. The Mubwindi swamp is the best destination for birding in this forest. The birds here are easy to spot and find. Some birds you may see include Western Green Tinkerbird, Rwenzori Batis, African Hill babbler, collared Apalis, and others.
Where To Do Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is subdivided into four areas for administrative reasons. These areas include the Buhoma area in the North of Bwindi, the Ruhija area in the East of Bwindi Nkuringo area, and the Rushaga area in the southern part of Bwindi.
Each of these areas has gorillas families that have been habituated and opened for tourism purposes. Uganda currently has about 19 gorilla families open for tourism, of which 18 are in Bwindi Forest and one in Mgahinga Forest. Some of these gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include the Rushegura family, Mubare family, Oruzogo gorilla family, Bweza gorillas family, Nkuringo family, Bitukura family, and others.
You must obtain a gorilla permit to access any of the areas in Bwindi Park. But you must also know the area where your gorilla permit for Bwindi National Park is booked before reserving accommodation. This is because the distance from one location to another of this vast forest is far, yet the roads are in poor condition too. Therefore, we do not advise tourists to have a gorilla permit booked in another area and overnight in another.
What Else To Do In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Other than gorilla trekking, Bwindi is a primate haven, and when you take a nature walk or primate walk, you have a high chance of spotting primates like the chimpanzees, blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkeys, L’hoest, black and white colobus and others.
Birding In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Beyond Impenetrable National Park is a haven for birders in Uganda. It hosts over 350 bird species. So when you do gorilla trekking in the Ruhija sector of Bwindi, you have a high chance of spotting over 100 bird species.
Bwindi forest offers the finest montane forest birds in Africa, of which about 23 species of 24 bird species are Uganda’s Albertine endemics. The Bwindi forest lies in the ragged Kigezi highlands of South Western Uganda, protecting a continuum of forest that ranges from montane to lowland areas.
You may get to spot birds like red-faced woodland warblers, Rwenzori Batis, Montane Sooty Boubou, and collared Apalis, to mention but a few.
Buhoma community walk and cultural performances where you get to learn more about the life of the local people. You may have the chance to take part in local brewing, traditional healers, visit a local homestead, and others.
The Nkuringo community walk also takes you into the life of the local people, like visiting a traditional medicine man, banana beer brewer, blacksmith visit, and others.
How To Book Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Permits
You need to make bookings for your gorilla trekking permits to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in advance.
Note the area where your gorilla permit is booked, too,, if you are a do-it-yourself tourist.
Note when you wish to do gorilla trekking and the possible number of people you hope to travel with
Enquire from us about when you wish to do gorilla trekking, and our safari consultant will check availability from the Uganda Wildlife Authority gorilla permit availability.
In case it is a positive availability, we advise our clients to purchase their permits as soon as possible to avoid last-minute panic when they are limited or no more.
After purchasing it, we request personal details like your full name on the passport, nationality, date of birth, passport expiry date, and others.
There are sued for record purposes, and some of these details are filled in your certificate after accomplishing the gorilla trek.
Accommodation to book For Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The accommodation in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is graded according to Luxury, Mid-range, or Budget facilities. In addition, you must note where your gorilla permits are booked to reserve accommodation, as explained above.
Some accommodations that you can book in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include
Clouds Lodge, Nkuringo Safari Lodge, Mahogany Springs, Buhoma Lodge, Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge, Engage Lodge, Gorilla Resort, Ruhija Safari Lodge, Broadbill Lodge, Lake Kitandara Tented Camp, Silverback Lodge, and others
Which Is the Best Area For Gorilla Trekking In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?
The feeling you get after finding the mountain gorillas is unmatched, no matter where you do your gorilla trek. That moment in front of the mountain gorillas is magical as you forget all you may have gone through to do gorilla trekking. However, people have different expectations of what they wish to see when they meet mountain gorillas.
Some wish to feel great when they meet a gorilla family with many infants and a large family, playful family members, and others,
Some wish to trek the most accessible gorilla family of Bwindi impenetrable National park, but this is hard to determine because the mountain gorillas keep changing location depending on the prevailing factors in the forest.
When the mountain gorilla food is close, they may be easy to trace, and when it is finished, they seek new feeding grounds where you must locate them. Unfortunately, this also explains why the time taken to trace the mountain gorillas is not known.
Even when the mountain gorillas fight with another family and lose, the losers may be pushed out of their location or even assimilated into the winning gorilla family. Survival of the fittest is the game of the mountain gorillas in the wilderness.
How Difficult Is Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The terrain of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is ragged, so expect. to hike some ridges and plateaus so times. The mountain gorillas sometimes love feeding from the slopes, and you have to get to where they are lounging.
When they slope into the valley, then you have to follow them there. They are very mobile creatures with nothing to stop them from moving freely in the forest.
The ranger guide uses a machete to cut through the creepers in case the mountain gorillas may be feeding in a more thick area.
You must have some fitness level so that you do not get muscle pulls while searching for the mountain gorillas. This is one reason you need to stretch your muscles a little more to go through the entire adventure.
Is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest safe For Gorilla Trekking
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is safe for gorilla trekking because the ranger guides are very vigilant in protecting this area. They work with other Uganda security agencies to keep law and order in this destination,
You must also pay attention to personal security during gorilla trekking by not counting a lot of money in public that can attract thieves.
Carrying valuables for a gorilla trekking safari may make you uncomfortable and attract the wrong people to steal them from you.
Eating street food during your gorilla trekking safari days may cost you your lifetime safari experience if you get food poisoning.
Do not engage in unlawful activities like dealing in drugs when you come for gorilla trekking because you may be sent to African prisons.
Carry limited but relevant bags that you can monitor so that you do not lose them or occupy space for your legroom.
Never enter the forest without a ranger guide, as the forest has other unhabituated dwellers that may be very dangerous to you if you have no one to defend you.
Packing list For Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Tracking boots that are safe enough to take you through the trek and hike to locate the mountain gorillas in case they are living at the slopes.
A camera to take photos of every experience while you trek to locate the mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that deserves to keep memories of every occurrence.
Raincoat to wear in case it rains. The wilderness is moist for almost the biggest part of the day, and it rains in this forest without warning at the time.
Snacks to munch on in case you get hungry from the long trek. Breakfast is taken too early to take you throughout the day.
A foldable safari hat to cover your head with in case it gets too wet and the dripping water off the tree leaves.
First aid kit in case you get into an emergency while in the wilderness
A torch to light your way in case power goes out in the night. Most of the lodges close to the park used solar energy.
A warmer to keep you from getting cold, especially in the mornings and late afternoons.
Garden gloves to wear and protect your palms from getting injured in case you want to hold a tighter grip.
Insect repellant to protect you from stinging insects in the wilderness. They may harm you.
Long-sleeved shirt and trousers to protect your body from getting hurt while in the wilderness.
Foldable water body to carry drinking water with in case you get thirsty while moving in the forest.
Sunglasses to protect your eyes from buzzing insects in the wilderness.
A nighty to wear when going to sleep.
Toiletries that are suitable for your skin type in case you are not comfortable with what the lodge provides.
A light waterproof bag to carry your gorilla trekking gear in case they fall while trekking. They do not scatter everywhere.
An extra battery to exchange with in case one runs low while in the wilderness. You need to capture every exciting moment.
Dos And Donts OF Gorilla Trekking In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Do not feed the mountain gorillas. They are wild animals that must look for their own food.
Never enter the forest without an escorting ranger guide.
Spitting on vegetation is forbidden as it contaminates the food on which animals depend.
Littering in the forest is forbidden because it may alter the nature of the forest on which mountain gorillas depend.
No making noise while in the forest because you may scare the gorillas and other forest dwellers
Volunteer to stay behind if you catch a cold, cough, or any other communicable infection before starting the gorilla trek. Mountain gorillas are highly susceptible to human illness.
No, using flash photography when with mountain gorillas.
When you locate them, keep a gap of about 8 meters from the mountain gorillas.
No smoking or feed in about 300 meters from the mountain gorillas.
Only one hour is allowed to be in the presence of the mountain gorillas.
For more information about the history of gorilla trekking in bwindi impenetrable National Park, kindly contact Encounter Africa safaris on email or phone.