Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is located in the south western part of Uganda in the Districts of Kisoro, Kanungu districts and bordering DR Congo. The park is situated at the edge of the Albertine Rift. The park covers an area of 321square kilometers with a vegetation mainly composed of both montane vegetation and lowland forests. The park is believed to be one of the oldest forests in Africa with scientists estimating at more than 25,000 years old. In 1991, Bwindi was gazetted as a National Park and declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994. The park spreads over a series of steep ridges and valleys, Bwindi is the source of five major rivers, which flow into Lake Edward. Bwindi Impenetrable national park has more than 400 species of plant life, sheltering up to 120 mammals among which are the primates including the famous Gorillas, chimpanzees, baboons, forest elephants and antelopes among others. Furthermore it Bwindi has more than 348 species of birds with 23 of those Albertine Rift endemics. It is estimated that the park is a home to more than 400 gorillas which is more than half of the world’s population of Gorillas and of these we have 19 groups habituated for human visit known as Mountain Gorilla tracking and this activity can only be done in 3 countries i.e. Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. The elevations in the park range from 1,190 to 2,607 metres (3,904 to 8,553 ft) above sea level and with the highest point being at Rwamunyonyi Hill. The indigenous community of Bwindi is believed to be the Batwa community, a community of pygmys(short people) who lived there life in the forest as hunters and fruit gathers and used the forest as a source of medicine for herbs and when the park was gazzated into a national heritage they were relocated out of the forest to forest egdes where they have lived there lives now.
Encounter Africa safaris organizes both budget, mid-range to luxury trips to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for gorilla tracking, we have our popular trips that you can choose from below to visit Bwindi Forest National Park. We as well consider highly customizing all trips to best match our clients’ needs, please feel free to contact us and we will customize for you a tour that will suite your interest budget and time.
The major activity to do in Bwindi is gorilla tracking experience but there is much more to see on your visit to this park including the unique gorilla habituation experience which is only done in his park in Africa.
Gorilla tracking involves hiking and walking through the forest in search for the mountain gorillas. The process of gorilla trekking normally starts with an early morning briefing at respective park head quarters in Bwindi Forest, then a hike or walk into the forest following the trail used by mountain gorillas and once found you will spend only one hour with the mountain gorillas. You will then return back and be offered a certificate.
For a successful gorilla trek in Bwindi forest national park, you are required to have a valid gorilla permit secured from Uganda wildlife Authority for your desired date of trek at USD700 for Foreign Non-Residents, USD600 for Foreign Residents, and Uganda shillings 250,000 for East African citizens. One the day of the trek, you will drive to the Park Headquarters for briefing on the regulations to follow while in the forest and with the gorillas, experienced guides and Park rangers will accompany you on the 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 7-5 meters of these magnificent apes, sharing in their daily lives and experiencing their day-to-day activities. You will be allowed one hour of viewing the gorillas and then return to the starting point to receive a certificate for a successful gorilla trek.
Gorilla habituation experience currently only takes place in Bwindi Forest National Park. This experience is the same like the normal trek where you will still have to walk/hike through Bwindi Forest in search of semi-habituated mountain gorillas and once you find them you will spend 4 hours with them. On this experience you will have a chance to visit the gorilla groups that are not fully habituated and you will participate in the process of getting them used to human being presence which normally takes 2-3 years. A gorilla habituation permit costs USD1500 and gives you four hours with mountain gorillas. Only four people are allowed to see these gorillas in Bwindi National Park.
Cultural experience is one of the highlights of the gorilla safari in Uganda, Bwindi Forest used to harbor the Batwa Pygmies in the forest who were evacuated as a conservation measure of the endangered apes and primates. The Batwa cultural encounter will expose you their unique culture, dance, way of life, the food they eat as they introduce you to their traditional forest life. In the trail, The Batwa will lead into the forest in which they demonstrate their traditional forest life such as hunting, fruit gathering, collecting honey and performing rituals among others. These batwa trails are organized to appreciate culture and also support the livelihoods of the communities around the park by paying a fee. Donations to children, women groups are much appreciated and also buying soverniors supports the community.
Bird watching is one of the must do activities in Bwindi, given the fact the forest is a home to over 350 bird species. Birding in Bwindi forest is best done at Mubwindi swamp, we will spend the entire day birding at this area. The 4km trail to Mubwindi Swamp is the best place for some of the most difficult to find of all rift endemics including Grauer’s (African Green) Broadbill, the beautiful Regal Sunbird, and Archer’s Robin-Chat. Mubwindi Swamp is also home to Dwarf Honeyguide, Stripe-breasted Tit, Ruwenzori Apalis, African Hill Babbler (sometimes treated as a separate species from Ruwenzori Hill Babbler), the rare and localized Grauer’s Scrub-Warbler. Some of the many species we have a chance of seeing here include Black Goshawk, Augur Buzzard, Crowned Hawk-Eagle, Handsome Francolin, Olive (Rameron) Pigeon, Bronze-winged Pigeon, Black-billed, Ruwenzori, and Ross’s Turacco, African, Barred Long-tailed, and African Emerald Cuckoos, Red-chested Owlet, Narina and Bar-tailed Trogons, Black and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters, Blue-throated Roller, White-headed Woodhoopoe, Gray-throated, Double-toothed, and Yellow-spotted Barbets, Western and Yellow-rumpedTinkerbird, Thick-billed and Dwarf Honeyguides, Rufous-necked Wryneck, Tullberg’s, Speckle-breasted, Elliot’s, and Olive Woodpeckers, African Broadbill, Rock Martin, Black Saw-wing, Gray and Petit’s Cuckoo-Shrike, Ansorge’s, Kakamega and Cabanis’ Greenbuls, White-tailed Ant-Thrush, Kivu Ground-Thrush, Olive and Mountain Thrushes, Red-throated Alethe, Chubb’s Cisticola, Banded Prinia, Ruwenzori, Black-throated, and Black-faced Apalis, Olive-green Camaroptera, Grauer’s Warbler, Cinnamon and Black-faced Bracken-Warblers, Mountain Yellow Warbler, White-browed Crombec, Short-tailed Warbler, Red-faced Woodland-Warbler, White-eyed Slaty- Flycatcher, Yellow-eyed Black-Flycatcher, Sooty Flycatcher, Chapin’s Flycatcher, White-starred Robin, White-bellied and Archer’s Robin-Chats, Ruwenzori Batis, White-tailed, and African Blue-Flycatchers, Pale-breasted, Mountain, and Gray-chested Illadopses, Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Gray-headed, Western Violet-backed, Green, Green-headed, Blue-headed, Green-throated, Stuhlmann’s, Northern Double-collared, and Regal Sunbirds, Mackinnon’s Shrike, Ludher’s, Gray-green, Many-colored, and Lagden’s Bush-shrikes, Velvet-mantled Drongo, Slender-billed, Waller’s, Narrow-tailed, Stuhlmann’s, and Sharpe’s Starlings, Black-billed, Strange, and Brown-capped Weavers, Jameson’s and Woodhouse’s Ant-peckers, and Red-faced and Dusky Crimson-wings.
Uganda wildlife Authority established nature walk trails in Bwindi Forest National Park for guided walks for visitors. The guided walks can start at any time of the day depending on the time the visitor has, during the walks, you will be able to see the different tree species, Forest birds and swamps. You will be guide on different tracks for a thrilling experience.
Bwindi Forest National Park used to be inhabited by the Batwa people commonly referred to as the pygmies for many years until of recent when they were removed from the Bwindi Forest to the surrounding communities of Bwindi Forest National Park to ease mountain gorilla conservation and tourism. A road trip to Bwindi Forest National Park from Kigali will give you an opportunity to see these pygmies used to spend their time in the forest, where they used to stay, how they used to harvest wild honey as well as hunting. They will show off their dances and explain how they have managed to settle and enjoy normal life outside the forest. You can as well visit the rest of the community in the out skirts of the forest, the women groups that do crafts and sell food, the community schools and we encourage if you have any donation to support the children with clothes and scholastic materials.
Bwindi Forest National Park can easily be accessed from Kigali in Rwanda just 4-5 hour drive from to the Park, through the Chanika or Katuna boarder between Uganda and Rwanda. The drive from Kigali can start from the Airport /hotel with a city tour of Kigali and then cross into Kisoro district in Uganda for Lunch and overnight. You can also access Bwindi Forest National park from Entebbe/Kampala, where you will drive approximately 9-10 hours’ drive on Kampala-Mbarara- Kisoro highway to the park. There is also an option of flying from Entebbe international Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip and the flight is about 2 hours into Kisoro Airstrip. There are scheduled flights departing every day with Aerolink Uganda and other flight companies, charter flights are also available. You can fly to Kihihi or Kisoro from where you will access Bwindi Forest national park via road trasnsfer.
Accommodations in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park range from budget, mid-range to luxury. Budget options include Rushaga Gorilla Havens Lodge, Trekkers Tavern Cottages, Ride 4 a woman, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Buhoma Camp Lodge among others fares range from 90-100 dollars a night per person, mid-range options include, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Icumbi Lodge, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, Buhoma Havens Lodge among others fares range from 100-200 dollars a night per person and then Luxury options include Buhoma Lodge, Bwindi Lodge, Gorilla Sanctuary Camp, Four Gorillas Lodge, Mahogany Springs, Engagi Lodge, among others fares range from 200-400 dollars a night per person.
Encounter Africa safaris offers amazing experiences Bwindi Forest national Park and the rest of Uganda and the East African region as a whole. Contact us for our discounted packages and also tailor made trips. Our magic in organizing authentic experience stems from the fact that we have overtime assembled a team mixed with young and energetic staff guided by well experienced mature managers and directors who are Ugandans and passionate about what they do. Encounter Africa Safaris is highly rated and reviewed on trip Advisor and safari bookings to help you learn on the experiences of the other travelers who have traveled with us.