The Bwindi impenetrable national park is a famous park located southwest of Uganda in the Kanungu district. The park was established in 1991 under the governance of the Uganda Wildlife Authority. This exotic destination is made of Bwindi Impenetrable forest comprising of montane and lowland forest. The extensive strands of bamboo and the larger hard roots of vines, ferns and rare plants make up this magical Bwindi impenetrable national park. This park was declared a UNESCO national heritage site in 1994 because of its oldest diverse tropical rainforest.
Bwindi is believed to provide a natural home to half of the world’s surviving mountain gorilla population estimated to be around 459 gorillas, over 350 bird species, 11 primate species, over 400 plant species and innumerable mammal species. The park is embraced by numerous breathtaking attractions providing an outstanding scenic view with the mountain gorillas’ being its best-selling tourism product.
How to get to Bwindi
Bwindi impenetrable national park can either be accessed by road or air. By road, it takes 9-10 hours from Kampala via Masaka Mbarara road. It gets easier and short to access Bwindi while connecting from different national parks for example Queen Elizabeth national park (Ishasha sector) is a 2-3 hour drive in the northern direction and from the southern, it’s a 1-2 hour drive from Kabale town.
Bwindi impenetrable national park can also be accessed by chartered flights under Aero link company. From Entebbe international airport to Kajjansi airstrip 26km, you will take a domestic carrier to Kihihi the closest airport in 1 hour.
What to see (attractions)
The park has numerous attractions that are eye-catching and mind-blowing when you spot the rare ones or the unexpected animals within the jungle.
Truth be told but Uganda inhabits half the population of the world’s mountain gorillas which are spotted in 4 different sectors in Bwindi impenetrable national park Mgahinga national park and the Virunga mountain ranges. In Uganda, we have Eastern gorillas with two subspecies which are mountain gorillas and lowland gorillas. The Bwindi impenetrable national park is blessed with over 360 of these endangered gorillas. Gorillas cannot be found in one place they keep on moving in search of fresh food and it’s their thing to keep moving. Gorillas in Bwindi can be tracked in four sectors which include Rushaga, Buhoma, Ruhija and Nkuringo. Buhoma is the easiest tracking sector but each as its a piece of difficulty so it isn’t a walkover. The tracking sector within the park comprises numerous families which tracking groups are subjected to under the guidance of tracking officials like guides and rangers.
This was the first introduced gorilla tracking region in Bwindi impenetrable forest in the northern part of the park. Buhoma is the busiest sector not because it has many gorillas but because of the numerous attractions such as the dark magical evergreen and hilly impenetrable forest, it is the most prioritized one. This sector has 5 habituated gorilla families with the Mubare gorilla family which were led by the late Ruhondeza silver back and it was the first to be habituated in 1998 as well receive the first trackers, Habinyanja gorilla family which acquired its name from Nyanja the small river where they were spotted first, Rushegura gorilla family came into existence in 2002 and got a new name “Ebishegura” which literary means abundant tree species in a family, Katwe gorilla family a new gorilla family in the northern region of Bwindi comprising of 9 members with 1 silverback 2 infants, 4 adult males and 2 black bucks and the yet to turn into a tracking family is Binyindo gorilla family comprising of 1 dominant male and 6 members undergoing habituation.
This magnificent sector is found in the southern part of Bwindi impenetrable forest comprising four gorilla tracking families Oruzogo, Bitukura and Kyaguliro gorilla family. Kyaguliro is rarely visited however it has relatively 20 members. It is split into two Kyaguliro A and Kyaguliro B following the death of their leader who was struck by lightning. Oruzogo and Bitukura were habituated in the same year 2007 but Bitukura faced some conflicts and this caused many members to depart the family.
Rushaga sector hosts the largest population of mountain gorillas in this jungle park. It is situated in the southern region a few kilometres from the Democratic Republic of Congo. It gets easier for trackers from Kigali Rwanda to visit Rushaga through the Cyanika border. It harbours a great number of habituated gorilla families such as Bweza, Busingye, Mishaya, Nsongyi, Rwigi, Kahungye, Mucunguzi and Bikyingi gorilla family.
Bwindi impenetrable national park is among the best birding spot with innumerable bird species. Bwindi as a park comprises Montane and lowland vegetation with primaeval forest harbouring over 350 bird species. The park consists of forest, water and rare bird species with 14 endemic species and 23 Albertine species and the most birding trails include the bamboo zone, Buhoma waterfall trail and Mubwindi swamp trail. Bird species that can be spotted in thick Bwindi vegetations include African wood owl, Black bee-eater, Handsome francolin, Dusky twin spot, Kivu ground thrush, strange weaver, Rwenzori Batis, black billed turaco, Shelley’s crimson wing, mountain oriole, regal sunbird, little rush warbler, red-faced woodland warbler, Apalis and many others.
Batwa are also known as the forest keepers who were the early inhabitants of Bwindi impenetrable national park. These local people are believed to be hunters and fruit gathers who were forced to vacate the park and live on the outskirts of Bwindi after it was gazetted as a national park. It was difficult to move these people from the forest and teach them the social life of living under the roof. A visit to the Batwa communities will expose you to how they conduct their day-to-day life, handcrafting using local materials, hunting and constructing their shelter as well perform interesting traditional dance and drama.
Bwindi impenetrable national park comprises thick Bwindi vegetation including the forest zone and the lowland forest zone with 220 tree species and 100 fern species. As the name sounds, it gets difficult to penetrate through the impenetrable thick vegetation but that’s the adventurous bit of it. This tropical forest is a water catchment area with innumerable water sources such as river Ivi, river Ishasha, river Ihihizo, river Ntengyrere and river Munyaga pouring into Lake Edward. Tree species at Bwindi include Mahogany, xymalos, Myrianthus holster, Monosporas and plant canopies such as Newtonia, East African yellow wood, red stinkwood and many others.
What to do (activities)
Bwindi impenetrable national forest is characterized by many tribes but the most famous one is the Batwa pygmies the forest’s early inhabitants who are known for their primitive nature. This experience takes you through the African cultural traditional beliefs and norms in the local and humid areas. Meet up with the local people for a taste of their local cuisine. A chance to participate in traditional dance and drama is rewarding as you get to immerse in the traditional culture and norms.
This is an extraordinary experience where a group of people subjected according to their tracking sector hike through the forest in search of these gentile creatures with an aim of taking a glimpse and proving the fact said that they possess 98.2% of the human DNA as well see how they adapt to the jungle forest. Bwindi Impenetrable national forest has four tracking sectors and each sector has tracking gorilla families. In a group of 8 members, you get deep into the jungle under the guidance of a ranger. This practice takes 2 – 8 hours and of course a 1-hour interaction upon contact. Carry with you the necessary tracking, and protective gear like long trousers, a sleeved shirt, boats, jacket, hiking stick, water bottle, and a lunch box. This fascinating activity offers an additional rewarding experience of wildlife species roaming in the tropical rainforest. Book earlier for your tracking permits like 4-6 months before the tracking date and these can be obtained at the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
This is an act of training the gentile gorillas to become used to the sight and company of people. It takes quite some good years like 2-3 years to tame these creatures in their jungle life not to harm humans while in the montane and lowland forests of Bwindi. The activity comes second to gorilla trekking and it requires a maximum of 4 trackers under the guidance of trackers researchers, conservationists’ trackers and game rangers.
Gorilla habituation is more interesting and takes 4 hours of interaction upon encounter with the gorillas. It takes a 6-month booking in advance to habituate these gorillas because of the few habitation groups. This activity enables people to understand the behaviour and lifestyle of the gorillas in the jungle as well as give them suitable names before they are subjected to a big group of trackers for gorilla trekking.
Bwindi impenetrable national park is a birders’ paradise and a visit to the green natural destination is a one-way ticket to the sight of these small and medium-flying creatures in the fine lowland montane forest. There are over 350 bird species recorded with 23 endemics to Albertine rift valley 14 rare bird species only found in Uganda birds are expected on watch. Birds that can be spotted in Bwindi include African green pigeons, black-faced warblers, olive-breasted greenbul, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Ruwenzori Apalis, African broadbill and many more.
The Bwindi impenetrable national park has plenty of activities and the nature walk is one of the many that tourists take interest in. The park has six magical hiking trails so it is upon the tourist to choose since all trails are rewarding with sights of rare beautiful species such as bird species, tree species, butterflies and charming primate species. Each trail has its unique view and stunning sceneries that are breathtaking. The Ivi river walk is 7 hours which is 14km long passing in a place of pigs “Mukempunu” offering the sight of wild pigs.
Rushura hill walk involves passing through a forest shared by two countries offering a pre-eminent view of the magnificent Rwenzori Mountains, Lake Edward, Lake George and a peak of the Virunga Mountains. The nature walk or hiking trails to choose from within Bwindi impenetrable forest include the Habinyanja trail, Muzubijiro loop trail, Muyanga waterfall trail and the famous Buhoma-Nkuringo trail.
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