Things To See In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Through Kigali
A list of things to see in Bwindi’s impenetrable National Park through Kigali. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in Southwestern Uganda, covering about 327 square kilometers of land. This pristine forest is believed to have existed for over 30000 years and is a biosphere reserve that survived the arid conditions that swept Africa. Locally, Bwindi means impenetrable, which is the correct explanation for this thick forest.
Most Popular Safaris
Mountain gorillas are key beneficiaries of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Through gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation experience, one gets access to these endangered primates of the world. Mountain gorillas only live in Uganda, Rwanda, and D.R.Congo, and Bwindi forest is one of the few hosts. Booking a gorilla permit is vital in planning a safari to Uganda’s mountain gorillas.
Bwindi forest is also a birder’s haven and Uganda’s prime birding destination. More than 350 bird species are residents of this forest. The Bwindi forest birds also include Albertine rift endemics and about seven bird species on the red list of IUCN.
The visits to the Batwa pygmy homesteads give you a glimpse into the life of these former forest occupants. The Batwa were evicted from the forest in the early 1990s for conservation reasons and left landless. The Batwa currently occupy different areas around the gorilla destinations.
Purchase East African Visa
From Kigali in Rwanda, you can cross into Uganda to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park via Gatuna or Cyanika borders. Purchasing the East African visa saves you the trouble and time of re-applying for a visa in case this is one of the travel requirements you must have before crossing into Uganda or Rwanda. Uganda and Rwanda are in the East African community, and this visa allows entry into at least two East African countries.
A visit to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park provides a conducive environment to wind and unwind from things happening in your life.
What To Do In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Gorilla safari in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The primary activities of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park area are gorilla trekking and Habituation experience. Gorilla trekking is an adventure where a maximum of 8 tourists follow a fully habituated gorilla family for one hour with the mountain gorillas. Uganda currently has over 21 gorilla families open for gorilla trekking.
The gorilla habituation experience is an adventure where tourists follow a team of researchers into the wilderness to spend four hours with a semi-habituated mountain gorilla family. So far, two gorilla habituation families are open in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Booking gorilla safaris for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is according to four areas: Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo.
Before reserving accommodation for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you must consider the area where your gorilla permit is booked. This is to avoid driving in the dark to catch up with a briefing in another area before the gorilla safari. On the way, you may encounter obstacles that may stop you from doing gorilla safari.
How much is the cost of a gorilla permit for Bwindi?
At the moment, the gorilla trekking permit for Bwindi is:
$800 for foreign nonresidents
$700 for foreign residents
300000shs for East Africans.
Currently, the gorilla habituation experience permit costs:
$1500 for foreign nonresidents
$1000 for foreign residents
750000shs for East Africans
What is covered in the cost of the Uganda gorilla permit?
The Uganda gorilla permit covers ranger guide fees, Park entrance fees, one hour of gorilla trekking or four hours of gorilla habituation experience, security during gorilla safari, mountain gorilla conservation, community support, certificate, researcher fee during gorilla habituation, experience, and others.
What Is Excluded In The Uganda Permit Cost?
Porter hire, tips, snacks, packed lunch, and other personal expenses during the gorilla safari.
Birding in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi forest hosts one of the largest flocks of birds in Uganda, especially forest and grassland birds. Over 350 bird species have been recorded to roam the Bwindi forest, home to about 23 of the 24 Albertine rift endemics. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offers some of the montane forest birds in Africa.
The long list of birds in the Bwindi forest is awed to its location in the rugged Kigezi highland of Southwest that protects a continuum of forest. The woods range from montane to lowland areas.
Ruhija area is the prime Bwindi Impenetrable National Park birding destination. The ridge top route offers visitors a chance into the deep valleys containing undisturbed rainforest. Walking to Mubwindi Swamp in this Park is always rewarding to keen birders.
Some of the bird species you may spot in the Bwindi forest include Handsome Francolin, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, Rwenzori Turaco, Mountain Masked and chestnut throated Apalises, African Hill Babbler, Collared Apalis, Western Green Tinkerbird and others.
For the best birding experience in Uganda, you need an experienced and knowledgeable birding guide.
Guided Nature walk in Bwindi Forest
Apart from the mountain gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park also hosts nine other primate species that may be seen during a guided walk in the forest. Some of the primates in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include olive baboons, black and white colobus, chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, and blue monkeys.
While walking in the Bwindi forest, you may come across sparkling waterfalls from the dense network of Rivers. Bwindi forest is the water catchment area of its surrounding areas. Bwindi forest is inhabited by other wild animals like duikers, forest elephants, antelopes, more than 88 butterfly species, and 51 reptiles. These may get to be seen along the way.
Buhoma and Nkuringo community walks.
Learn more about the communities surrounding Bwindi Impenetrable National Park by walking. The walks are guided by a local guide with experience with the community’s way of life and livelihood.
During the community walk, you may visit a homestead, do a local brew tasting, visit a blacksmith, a traditional healer, and others.
The proceeds from collecting the community visits are used to support community projects.
What accommodations to book in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
For better administrative purposes of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you must spend the night within or closer to the area where your gorilla permit is booked. This is to avoid having to rise in the dark to drive to catch up on a briefing in another area. Bwindi areas include Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo.
Some Bwindi areas share accommodations, but you must be careful when choosing and know how to navigate to another area in advance.
Accommodations of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are categorized into Upmarket, Mid-range, and Budget facilities.
Buhoma accommodations: Gorilla Forest Lodge, Gorilla Resort, Engage Lodge, Mahogany Springs, Bwindi View Bandas.
Nkuringo and Rushaga accommodations: Clouds Lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Bwindi Backpackers’ Campsite, Clouds Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Safaris Lodge, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Nshongi Camp
Ruhija accommodations: Ruhija Gorilla Lodge, Broadbill Camp. We can also overnight in the Buhoma area, which is about 2 hours away.
How to get To Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
From Kigali, you can fly to Entebbe airport and connect with the daily domestic flights to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip. You need a transfer vehicle from either airstrip to your lodge. The drive from either Kihihi airstrip or Kisoro airstrip to Bwindi is about 2 hours.
From Kigali, you drive through winding roads into Uganda, crossing the border via Cyanika or Gatuna borders. You need a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle in good condition and a professional and experienced driver guide to drive through this area.
Kigali to Kabale to Kisoro to Nkuringo or Rushaga area
Kigali to Kabale to Ruhija to Buhoma
Kigali to Kabale to Kanungu to Buhoma
When Is The Best Time To Do Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are best done when ready because they are all year-round. The dry season is most preferred for activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The dry season is the peak Uganda tourism season in June, July, August, September, December, and January.
You must book the permit in advance for gorilla safaris, especially if you hope to engage in this activity during peak season. Gorilla permits are limited, with a maximum of 8 opened to the public per gorilla family per day.
Trails in the Bwindi forest are drier during the dry season, even though it is known for receiving rains anytime without warning. More sunlight is let in through the dense forest canopy of Bwindi forest to the ground, reducing the precipitation in the woods. The wild animals are full of life and may be easier to trace during the dry season.
Note that chances of finding gorilla permits at the last minute get slimmer as the dry season breaks in
The wet season, usually the low season of March, April, May, and November, often offers last-minute gorilla permits. If you wish to gain safari discounts on some logistics, like accommodations in Bwindi, you may seize the opportunity of the low season when some facilities offer discounts. You may also get an upgrade on services, especially during the low season when fewer people are booking in. This, however, is not a guarantee all the time.
Is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park safe for safari Activities?
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is safe for activities within the Park. The Park has trained Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger guides that patrol the forest to protect the mountain gorillas, other forest inhabitants, the woods, and visitors. These rangers also look for suspicious activities in the Park, like setting snares.
A team of ranger guides wakes up early to do the routine patrol before tourists are let into the Bwindi forest.
There are other Uganda security agencies to keep law and order in and around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. They work closely with the park security team.
On a personal basis, you should never enter the forest without an escorting ranger guide. The forest has other inhabitants that are not habituated to human presence that may harm you.
Is A walk in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Strenuous?
The walk in the Bwindi forest is quite strenuous. The topography of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is rugged, resulting from volcanic activities around the Virunga area. Several highlands resulted from volcanic action, such as ridges, deep valleys, and plateaus, where mountain gorillas may spend part of their day. You are required to hike to find the mountain gorillas, which is quite tiresome. If you are unfit, the chances of delaying the rest of the group are high.
The ground of the Bwindi forest is often soggy and boggy from the regular rains that fall, yet less sunlight is let into the ground. You need to have suitable safari boots that cannot be damaged under such conditions, wear a sleeved shirt, hire a porter to lift your gorilla safari gear not to be weighed down by then and take a walking stick for extra support.
Having some level of fitness helps you complete the walk in Bwindi forest with less difficulty in getting to the points where these primates are.
When Do You Return from A Gorilla Safari in Bwindi?
Return time after the gorilla safari in Bwindi is hard to determine because it depends on factors prevailing in the forest. At the start of the gorilla safari, you follow the trail leading to where the mountain gorilla was last seen the previous day. Also, apply the clues from the early morning ranger guides that followed the mountain gorillas to establish where they might have nested and possible day hangout spots for these primates.
Finding the mountain gorillas depends on factors like the proximity of their feeding point, in case of a. fight with another gorilla family, the death of a family member, the pace of fellow tourists, and others. Upon finding the mountain gorillas, only one hour is allowed with them during gorilla trekking and four hours of gorilla habituation experience.
You need to have some patience to complete the gorilla safari in Bwindi. Contact us for more information.