Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is situated in southwestern Uganda, on the edge of the Western Rift Valley (Albertine Rift) and is shared by Kanungu, Kabale and Kisoro districts. It is 331 square kilometres in size and on an altitude range of 1,160 metres (Ishasha Gorge) to 2,607 metres (Rwamanyonyi Peak). The annual average temperature range is 7 – 20 Degrees Celsius with the coldest period being June and July.
Local people neighbouring the park, the majority are Bakiga and Bafumbira, constituting the densest settlements in Uganda (350 people/square kilometer). A few Batwa are also live here.

Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Gorilla Tracking

This is the major tourist activity in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, with four gorilla tracking Sectors (Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo currently available daily for tourists each having several habituated families for visitors to track. Gorilla tracking is regulated and organised by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) with only 8 permits available per group daily. This means that the gorilla permits are limited therefore, booking must be done as early as possible.

Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi can be challenging, therefore ensure physical fitness. However, in the absence of physical fitness, porters can be hired. The Gorilla Tracking experience starts with a briefing from the park Rangers about the Dos and Don’ts of the activity followed by the distribution of the groups before trekking through the lush forest searching for the elusive gorillas. On finding them, visitors are allowed to spend a maximum of one hour watching them and taking photos. On returning to the Park Headquarters, certificates are awarded. The trek can take between 2 to 6 hours depending on where the gorillas were last seen.

What to Bring for Gorilla Tracking

  1. Wear jungle shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes and carry a rain jacket because the park is often wet.
  2. Put on earplugs for those who feel uncomfortable with jungle sounds.
  3. Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent.
  4. Carry packed lunch.

For conservation reasons, visitors to the gorillas are tightly controlled. The following rules apply and must be strictly adhered to:

  • No one with a communicable disease (e.g. Flu, diarrhoea) is allowed to enter the park.
  • Stay together in a tight group while with the gorillas, don’t surround them.
  • Don’t get closer than 7 metres (21 feet) to the gorillas.
  • Don’t use flashes while photographing the gorillas.
  • Don’t eat or smoke when with gorillas or within a distance of 200 metres from the gorillas.
  • Turn away from the gorillas if you have to sneeze or cough. Cover your nose and mouth in the process.
  • Burry all human faeces a minimum of one foot deep and ensure that the hole is properly covered.
  • Don’t leave litter. All litter must be carried out of the park and disposed off properly.
  • No person under 15 years is allowed to track gorillas.
  • Don’t make loud noise or move suddenly.
  • You are allowed a maximum of 1 hour with gorillas.
  • Don’t spit on vegetation or soil while in the park, use your hankie or other garment.
  • Your group must not be more than tourists and must all be over 15 years old.

Nature Walks

For the visitor who has 2 or 3 days in Bwindi, the park has 4 fantastic hiking trails. All these trails, give opportunities to see and learn about primates, many species of birds, butterflies, trees and other organisms.
The Munyaga River Trail is an ideal short walk for visitors with little time to spare. Here you can see birds and primates of the forest edge.

The popular Waterfall Trail provides an attractive feature of the forest with a profusion of tree ferns, epiphytic ferns, orchids and Bwindi’s colourful array of crystal-clear waterfalls typifies your impression of a tropical rainforest.

The Rushura Trail commands expensive views across the western rift valley floor. To the west, Congo’s Parc Nationale des Virungas provides a spectacular backdrop and on clear days Lake Edward and the Rwenzori Mountains are visible.

The 5.2 km Muzabajiro Loop Trail offers breathtaking views of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Western Rift Valley and the Virungas. On the way, you witness hundreds of pre-historic tree ferns. The top of this trail is a great place for a picnic lunch.

The River Ivi Trail, so far the longest in the park, will occupy you for a full day, it is highly recommended for bird watchers.

Watch out for duikers, primates and both forest and grassland bird species. At Ruhija, visitors (especially birders) can take the three-four scenery-packed hikes to the Mubwindi swamp. Visitors may also walk to the Bamboo zone (the only such area in the park). The Bamboo trail offers 14 vegetation types and is one of the areas of the highest diversity in the park. At the top of this trail, you witness panoramic views encompassing L. Bunyonyi and Mafuga forests.

Buhoma Village Walk

The village walk, which takes up to three hours, is managed by the local community and the proceeds received here are ploughed into the community to improve on their welfare.

The walk introduces you to several interesting sites such as a typical rural homestead, a visit to the local traditional healer, a banana beer brewing demonstration site and much more.

Culture and Art

Cultural Performances

In the evenings, participate in captivating traditional performances presented by Women and Orphan groups. Proceeds from these go directly to improve the welfare of the families around the park.

Bird Watching in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi is the Bird watchers’ haven! It holds over 346 species of birds and contains 90% of all Albertine rift endemics, difficult or impossible to see in any other part of East Africa: and seven IUCN red data listed species. An experienced bird watcher can identify up to 100 species in a day! Visit Ruhija and Buhoma for this dream. Indicate your interest to the park management so that appropriate early morning departures can be arranged.

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