Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The dense impenetrable is adorned with steep hills and valleys, which collectively describe Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The elevated ranges of tropical rainforest are well-known for housing the world’s largest population of mountain gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in southern Uganda. It encircles the Democratic Republic of the Congo and runs alongside the western arm of the Albertine Rift Valley, near the famed Virunga Massif.
It is an ancient African forest that still benefits from the abundant biodiversity of ancient Central African forests. The forest is home to more than 120 mammals, 350 bird species, 310 butterfly species, and approximately half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas.
Historical facts about Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
In 1932, Bwindi was designated in two blocks of the Kayonza Crown Forest Reserve: the northern bloc and the Kasatora Crown Forest Reserve. In 1942, the two reserves were combined, forming the Impenetrable Central Crown Forest under the joint management of Uganda’s game and forest departments. The forest was then designed as an animal sanctuary for the extra protection of the mountain gorillas.
In 1964, this forest reserve was stretched to 321 square kilometers and remained a sanctuary and a forest reserve. In 1991, this forest reserve was designated Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with the main purpose of protecting the endangered mountain gorillas, which were on the verge of extinction.
The forests before were co-occupied with both mountain gorillas and Batwa hunters, who considered the forest their ancestral inheritance. However, when Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was formed, the Batwa people were forcefully evicted without their conceit or pay. The conservation program started with gorilla habituation, and by 1993, the first gorilla family was habituated and was open in 1999 for trekking experiences.
The geographical facts
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in southwestern Uganda, covering the districts of Kabale, the biggest town around, Kanungu, and Kisoro. The park covers an area of 321 km2 and is raised at an altitude ranging from 1,300 to 2,462 m. Here, the gorillas live in the highlands. This creates a distinctive structure between the gorillas of Bwindi and the ones residing in the lowlands of the Virunga Massif. The park sits at the edge of the Rift Valley, overlooking the Virunga Volcanoes. The park is bisected into four trekking sectors: Buhoma north, Ruhija east, Rushaga southeast, and Nkuringo southwest.
Wildlife highlights of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Forest is a residence for several endangered species, which have strategically made the forest a good spot for conservation. Mountain gorillas are the prime animals that accompany a package of primate species, including rarely seen chimpanzees, monkeys like L’Hoest’s monkeys, black and white colobus, and baboons, among many others. Expect forest elephants, giant forest hogs, and forest buffaloes, among so many other species.
The best time to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Forest sits within the equatorial tropical rainforest, which possibly receives the highest amount of rainfall in Uganda. However, there are two seasons: the high season and the lower season. For adventure reasons, the two seasons are simplified, where the peaks double to be the dry months and the low season is the wet or rainy months. Each season doubles a year; the peak/dry/sunny season manifests during the months of December, January, and February and returns during the months of June, July, and August. However, during the peak season, being in an equatorial zone, expect rainfall at any time of the day. Though it’s limited during these months, this is the major travel season for travelers going to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The grounds tend to be dry, and the floor is less moist, making it the perfect time to trek gorillas at Bwindi and do the rest of the adventures. However, the park remains open throughout the year for all adventures.
Our suggested adventure trips at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Adventure highlights of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Mountain gorilla trekking
Gorilla trekking is a prime adventure done at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. And this can be accompanied by a unique gorilla habituation experience. Bwindi has the highest number of habituated gorilla families, and the most opportunities to trek gorillas are here. Gorillas are well habituated to the trek, and you will have a close-up encounter with the gorillas. To trek gorillas at Bwindi, one needs a permit, which costs $700, and for gorilla habituation, a permit costs $1,500. Gorilla trekking trails at Bwindi are organized through the four sectors of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo.
Nature walks and bird watching
This park is composed of a unique variety of dense forest that accommodates over 320 bird species. When interested in watching several bird species, it’s a great and amazing paradise to watch as many birds as possible with the guidance of an experienced ranger guide. A walk that goes through the varying landscape of slopes, valleys, and highlands rewards you with an untamed nature walking experience. There are several walking trails to take, and these depend on the experience hoped for.
Mountain biking adventures are organized by the women’s initiative at Buhuma Community. It starts at the Buhoma community rest camp, where bikers hire their bicycles from the camp and initiate their biking through various trails. The mountain biking trails can run through various trails into the forest that can possibly cross from Buhoma to Nkuringo.
Around Bwindi forests are the Batwa communities; these people were evicted without any pay. They suffered and were almost extinct until several initiatives were made to help improve their livelihoods. The community visit takes you to experience the lifestyle of these unique Batwa, also called forest pygmies. Visiting the Batwa, you’re cheered with tales of their life story, dances, tasting local dishes, or even buying some of their handmade crafts.
Getting to Bwindi
The park can either be accessed by road or air. There are scheduled and chartered flights that drop you off at Kihihi airstrip, which is the closest to Buhoma and Ruhija sectors. When you trek from Rushaga and Ruhija, you need to use the Kisoro airstrip. A drive from either airstrip to your trekking sector can last no more than 112 hours.
By road, it’s about 460km from Kampala, which is about 9 hours of driving through Kampala, Mbarara, and Kabale to Bwindi. However, through the Cyanika border, driving from Kigali takes about 4 hours to reach Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.