Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the most selling tourist destinations in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. Bwindi Impenetrable Park has travellers from all over the world flocking the “impenetrable” rainforest on a day or more visit. Gazetted as a national park in 1991, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park covers a total area of 321 square kilometres and is in the districts of Kanungu, Kabale and Kisoro in the south western part of Uganda. The park is positioned at the rim of the western arm of the great Albertine Rift Valley and has an elevation that ranges from 1,160-2,607 meters above sea level. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a rainforest in a mountainous area, and thus is largely composed of montane and lowland forest, making it accessible strictly by foot. Bwindi Impenetrable forest is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo in west, and has Kabale as the nearest town which is only 29km away. In 1994, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site due to its great contribution to biodiversity and inhabiting the critically endangered mountain gorillas who were only referred to as endangered in 2018.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a water catchment area which water is from the immense rain that falls in the forest, that has streams forming. The park is a source of many rivers that flow and pour into various lakes like Lake Edward, Lake Mutanda and Lake Bunyonyi. These rivers include among others River Ivi, River Ihihiza, Ishasha, Munyanga and the like. The park also has a number of waterfalls that will leave you gaping when on a guided nature walk in the park.
The park on average receives an annual rainfall that ranges from 1400-1900 millimetres. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park can as well have two seasons, the dry and the wet. Since the park is a rainforest though, rains can still fall during the dry season. The dry season months which are the peak season months as well are June-September and December-February, with the rest being wet season months and definitely the low season. With a tropical climate, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has a temperature range that can go as low as 7 degrees Celsius and as high as 27.
The park inhabits a number of forest animals like forest elephants which are about 30 in number, bush pigs and other mammal species that are 120 in total, as well as 348 species of birds most of which are endemics to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, 220 butterfly species and well over 320 plant species. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park inhabits a number of primates like chimpanzees but it is the mountain gorillas that are most sought after by travellers. Mountain gorillas can only be found in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the national parks of Volcanoes in Rwanda, Virunga in Congo and Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks. It is in Bwindi that the most number of mountain gorilla individuals are found, with more than half the total world population being in Bwindi alone.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has about 40 gorilla families, with only 19 gorilla families fully habituated and available for visits by the tourists. These 19 gorilla families are grouped in four different gorilla regions of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park that are Buhoma, Nkuringo, Ruhija and Rushaga gorilla regions of Bwindi. The very first gorilla family to be habituated and availed for a gorilla trekking adventure was the Mubare group which is in the Buhoma sector of the park. It is only the habituated groups that travellers can visit since they are more comfortable and willing to tolerate human presence for a given time. Only 8 persons per group can visit a single gorilla family per day, and spend only one hour with them. Persons below the age of 15 years cannot go gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
With all the above inhabitants of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, there are many tourist activities that travellers visiting the park and forest can take part in as may be seen below;
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi is the most done activity that all travellers that visit the part plan to do. Gorilla trekking in Bwindi is an activity that has travellers hiking deep into the jungles in search of the giant apes. Once travellers encounter the gorillas, they are allowed only one hour with them. To take part in a gorilla trekking adventure in Bwindi, travellers need to purchase a gorilla trekking permit that allows them to take part in the activity. A single entry gorilla trekking permit costs $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents and ugx250,000 for East African citizens. These can be purchased from the Uganda Wildlife Authority or through trusted tour operators. Gorilla trekking in Bwindi starts as early as 8am and can take up to 6 hours or more depending on the terrain or location of the gorillas. Gorilla trekking in Bwindi can be strenuous, preparing adequately for it is very important as well as carrying the essential gorilla trekking gear.
Gorilla habituation is the activity that has travellers spending more time with the gorillas as they learn more with them, their behaviour, gender identification, name giving, and much more with the help and guidance of gorilla experts.
With all the various bird species in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, bird watching is definitely a must do. Bird watching in Bwindi has travellers spotting a number of them most of which are hard to find elsewhere. Some of the birds you are sure to spot in Bwindi include bar-tailed trogons, dusky crimsons, white-tailed blue monarch, among others. A keen birder can spot up to 100 bird species while on a bird watching spree in Bwindi. Be sure to carry your binoculars.
Nature walks in Bwindi are a great way to explore Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in great detail. The various trails will lead you through some very beautiful parts of the park that will have you seeing some amazing spots like waterfalls, streams and small rivers perfect to have a short stop at or even a picnic on a good day. The experienced guides will share their knowledge of the park, as well as other inhabitants of the park that y0u may come across while on a nature walk in Bwindi.
Cultural encounters in Bwindi will have travellers encountering the native inhabitants of Bwindi Impenetrable National park, the Batwa. The Batwa take travellers through their way of life that they lived when still inhabitants of the tropical forest, their life when they still lived in the stone age era despite the fact that people left that behind centuries ago.
Community visits in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has travellers visiting the locals nearby and take part in their way of life. Travellers get to till the land, cook, make crafts among so many others. You might even be able to visit a herbalist in the area.
Bwindi Park is a beautiful place that one can take away all your anxiety and stress in a bit with the freshness of the place and its tranquil nature. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has good and comfortable lodging options for all travellers’ needs and preferences. Super luxury, mid-range and basic options are all available. Travellers are however reminded to book accommodation only after confirming their gorilla sector from where they will be doing their gorilla trekking adventure.
Bwindi Impenetrable park can be reached by both road and air. By road, the drive is about 8 hours or more from Entebbe to the park via Kabale- Kisoro. There are many stops that can be arranged, and the drive is a great way of learning the countryside life of Ugandans. By air, travellers can charter flights from Entebbe or Kajjansi to Kihihi airstrip. Travellers need to book way in advance though. Alternatively, travellers can fly into Kigali International Airport in Rwanda and then be transferred to Bwindi on a road drive that is about 3 or 4 hours through the Cyanika border.
Take time to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and you will be amazed by the beauty therein. Have a trusted and reputable tour operator plan the best gorilla safari fit for just you.