Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Travel Guide
This is Uganda’s most outstanding national park positioned in the southwestern part, approximately 440km from Kampala-Kabale-Kanungu through Buhoma and 486km from Entebbe international airport through the on route. This journey takes about 9-10 hours. However, the park can also be accessed through many other directions depending on the last destinations, for example from queen Elizabeth national park is about 130km and 3 hours drive, from l. mburo national park, the drive takes 6-7 hours.Air transport is also available from Kajjansi airfield to Kihihi where one is picked by a guide and driven to the park in about an hour and a half.
Bwindi impenetrable national park was gazette in 1991 and in 1994 UNESCO declared it as a natural world heritage site. It is everyone’s dream and popular destination because it has a natural rain forest which is a habitat for the endangered mountain gorillas. Exciting news is that this park houses more than a half of the world’s total population of mountain gorillas and visitors have very high chances sighting them.
To access the park, foreign non residents pay a fee of US$40, US$30 for foreign residents and UGX20,OOO for east African citizens.
Things to do in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
This is the activity that makes the park famous and almost all tourists to this destination have their travel purpose to track the mountain gorillas. Each foreign nonresident interested in tracking pays US$700, nonresident pays US$600 and East African citizen pays only UGX250,000 and this includes guide fee, park entrance fee for the day and community development contribution. Tracking permits should be bought in advance before the tracking date either from the reservations office at Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters or through reliable tour agents.
A group of only 8 tourists per day is guided for tracking by an UWA ranger guide and this movement can take up to a whole day depending on where the group of the gorillas has moved to. There are 13 gorilla families which have been divided across different sections of the park. These include Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo where if gorillas are spotted the guests are allowed to view them for one hour.
An experience of gorilla habituation which happens only in Rushaga gorilla sector allows you to visit the gorillas for about four hours than usual as the researchers train and familiarize gorillas to people before they are allowed to be trekked. The best time of the year to do this activity is June to September and December to March and a permit for gorilla habituation goes for US$1500, US$1000 and UGX750,000 FNR, FR and East African citizens respectively.
Bird watching in Bwindi Forest National Park
A total of 348 bird species has been registered in Bwindi national park and 25 of these are restricted-range species and 4 species are globally threatened.
There are also three bird species as the only survivors of their respective genera that is the African green broadbill, grauer’s warbler,and short-tailed warbler. As you walk around the forest for birding you may be amazed to find some of the species of beautiful butterflies that are only found in Bwindi impenetrable national park. These include cream-banded swallow tail, graphium gudenusi and charaxes fournierae.
Areas best recommended for birding are Buhoma along the sides of the forest and in Ruhija village which is very good for forest birding and swamp birding under the guidance of expert local birders. Mubwindi swamp in Ruhija village provides an expectation of sighting some of the rare Albertine endemics and lifers.
Community walk Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Very many tourists love to move on foot through communities neighboring tourism destinations especially game parks to interact with the local people and also understand their culture. Walking around Buhoma village and Buninga forest at a fee of US$40 for foreign and non foreign residents and UGX40,000 for East African citizens gets you to the first inhabitants of the area-the Batwa (pygmies) who lived, hunted and gathered plants for food and medicinal purposes in the Bwindi forest for thousands of years. They harmoniously lived with nature until they were forced to vacate the area for purposes of conservation but fortunately, some agencies came out to fight for their rights and they won the case. The batwa entertain their visitors with cultural dances, introduce their traditional healers and show their unique weaving skills and the craft and art items made.
Explore the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda
Why You Should Visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park-Mountai Gorilla Destination
Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in the south western part of Uganda close to the Virunga volcanoes. This home to endangered mountain gorillas survived the tectonic shift that formed the volcanoes that formed the Virunga Massif. Bwindi is such a gorgeous site that it was selected by CNN Travel as the most beautiful place in the world.
Bwindi is an amazing place not only for gorilla trekking but it is also a home to over 340 bird species which makes it one of the best places for bird watching. On top of that, in Uganda, Bwindi is the only park where you find both mountain gorillas and chimpanzees living in the same park and as you trek for the gorillas, some chimps could be spotted. There are much more animals in the forest including more primates and mammals. You’ll not only enjoy fauna at the forest but also have an opportunity to visit the homesteads of the Batwa who lived I the forest before it became a national park and was also designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bwindi impenetrable national park is a fantastic site regarding African safari destinations and here are the reasons why you should visit this forest.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi is affordable
Gorilla trekking in the world is limited to only three countries; Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC. These have different prices for their gorilla trekking permits yet gorilla trekking and tourism in the DRC especially the eastern part has not yet developed. The main gorilla trekking destinations are Rwanda and Uganda and Uganda has more affordable gorilla trekking permits than its neighbor Rwanda. A gorilla trekking permit in Uganda costs US$700 and in Rwanda, it costs US$1,500 for each person. The time visitors spend with the gorillas when trekking is a maximum of an hour in both countries. With lower and affordable trekking permits in Uganda, the experience visitors get in the forest is fantastic and always feel overjoyed after receiving their certificates after the trek.
Home to more mountain gorillas
Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC are the only places in the world where the endangered mountain gorillas live. Today, there are about 1,060 mountain gorillas in the world and Uganda (Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks) has about half of this total population. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park alone has over 400 gorillas and this indicates that the forest keeps more of these giants than any other park. Uganda has a total number of 20 mountain gorillas that have been habituated for trekking while Rwanda has only 10. There is a range of locations where visitors choose to do their trekking depending on the experience they wish to get; some gorilla treks are smooth and shorter while others are challenging but enjoyable for more adventurous and strong people who like hiking.
All the mountain gorilla destinations allow a group of a maximum number of 8 people to visit each gorilla family and therefore Uganda usually has more gorilla permits available daily compared to Rwanda’s. Uganda has 136 permits daily while there are 80 permits in Rwanda daily. It however remains very important to book for your gorilla permit early.
You have more time to spend with gorillas on the gorilla habituation experience
The gorilla habituation experience allows visitors to have a closer participation in interacting with the giant primates. Tourists join the researchers and visit mountain gorillas that are being habituated for trekking and they also actively be part of the habituating team for that day unlike a mere observation when trekking. Compared to gorilla trekking where visitors spend an hour with the gorillas after spotting them, visitors have 4 hours with the mountain gorillas o the gorilla habituation experience.
Gorilla habituation experience takes place in Rushaga sector in the southern part of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and permits are offered by Uganda Wildlife Authority at a fee of US$1,500.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is UNESCO World Heritage Site
It’s not that every place that is attractive is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bwindi forest has a number of reasons why it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site including the variety of fantastic flora and fauna. This place is one of the most beautiful sites in the world ad different medias have come up to describe its beauty. For example, Lonely Planet said that Bwindi is one of the most unusual destination for Honey Moon. In 2012, the African bird club voted Bwindi national park as the number one Birding Site and Fodor’s Travel also selected it as one of Fodor’s 10 Best Travel Destinations in 2013. In 2017, CNN named Bwindi Impenetrable national park as one of the best travel destinations in Africa.
Bwindi national park is the most beautiful place in the world- CNN
Several times and the most recent being in 2019, CNN has named Bwindi impenetrable national park the most beautiful place in the world and this is something we can’t agree more. The rainforest covers multiple highlands and the region has a different kind of climate from the rest of the country, usually covered with mist in the morning. The landscape is beautiful and the par has also been complimented as a beautiful destination by other medias such as National Geographic and Lonely Planet among others. You therefore should consider watching the beauty these medias talk about.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park has the best hiking trails in the world
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park covers an area of 331 sq. km and there are various hiking trails that lead to different locations of the forest. Visitors trek through trails of their choice depending on the experience they want to have o the trek. Some trails are shorter than others and some are on more rugged slopes, others are steeper than others and great and strong hikers will enjoy this. You can hike from one location and move out of the forest through another trail in a different location.
Since mountain gorillas move a lot, there is no specific time for ending the trek but they most times las for about 3-6 hours. It can even last for less than the 3 hours or more than 6 hours depending on the trail and the location where the gorilla group you are trekking has moved.
The Batwa is a group of people that lived in Bwindi forest before they were evicted in 1992 to protect it as a national park and they are today conservation refugees living outside but close to the forest. This was too bad for them because the new life was hard their lifestyle was totally different form the modern one that they were going to face, but the Batwa Development Program has worked with their community to improve their conditions and lives. These were the inhabitants of the forest and lived in harmony with the environment as hunters and gatherers.
The Batwa have maintained some of the practices of their culture including music and dances which entertain visitors who get an opportunity of meeting them. Going with them through the forest for the Bwindi Batwa forest experience in the southern part of the park takes you to areas where they lived, where they buried their kings and also in their communities in Buhoma, you get to know how they carry on their day to day activities.
There are many lodges in Bwindi
There are more lodges at Bwindi more than any other gorilla trekking destinations. The more the lodges, the better the affordability. The lodges are of different categories ranging from luxury, midrange to budget. These lodges are situated on great sites where visitor get spectacular views of the surrounding. Lodges here are more affordable than those in Rwanda in Volcanoes national park yet they provide high standard and quality accommodation facilities.
Other activities to do in Bwindi
The UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a variety of fauna and more than wildlife. Beside mountain gorilla trekking, visitors have an opportunity to visit the original inhabitants of the forest before they were evicted. They are also referred to as “the keepers of the forest”. You can visit their communities or move around the forest with them. You can also tour around with the Bakiga who are currently occupying the villages around the forest.
Bwindi forest is a home to interesting species of birds and more primates such as chimps and more and there is also a variety of mammals including forest bush pig, forest elephant among others.
The hilly areas around the park provide great hiking sites. The area is rugged and much more thrilling for adventurous hikers as they watch the amazing scenes and different wildlife of the park.
Mountain biking is also one of the exciting tourist activities and they take place in Buhoma.
Therefore, apart from gorilla trekking, other activities to do in Bwindi are birding, hiking, Batwa visit and mountain biking.
Bwindi impenetrable forest is safe and secure
There has not been any reports of insecurity and unsafety in Bwindi. The forest is a safe place for gorilla trekking and all other activities like birding, Batwa visit and others. Just like all other parks in Uganda, Bwindi also shares 20% of the revenue collected from tourists with the local communities to come up with projects that will improve their conditions and lives. This way, the park collaborates with people in the communities in keeping the place safe and secure.
Mgahinga national park also in the southwestern part of Uganda is a safe place for gorilla trekking as well as Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. Generally, Ugandan considers security and safety of tourists and invests in different departments to manage this.
Getting to Bwindi is easy
One of the easiest ways to get to Bwindi is flying ti Kigali and then connect to Bwindi. Driving from Rwanda to the southern parts of Bwindi takes about 4 hours.
Those who fly directly to Uganda at Entebbe airport will drive for about 9 hours to Kisoro or fly with Aerolink Airline to Kisoro airport which is ear Bwindi and then the driver guide transfer you to your lodge.
Close to Bwindi, there are much more activities to do in other national parks and sites such as Lake Bunyonyi for canoeing, Queen Elizabeth national park, Kibale national park for chimp tracking or Lake Mburo national park.
Bwindi has friendly weather
The weather of Bwindi is good and temperatures just perfect for stay around the area. During the morning hours and evening and nights, it is usually cold. Mist covers the top of the forest in the mornings. At night, temperatures are low to about 10-15 while on sunny days during the day, temperatures rise up to about 20-25 degrees Celsius. It is advisable that you carry sweaters and jacket when travelling to Bwindi.
Since it is a rainforest, rain is expected anytime and one of the items you should not miss to carry when preparing to visit Bwindi is a rain jacket.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park
Adventure in the wild safaris conducts gorilla tours to Bwindi forest. We buy for you gorilla trekking permits from Uganda Wildlife Authority on time and also book for your lodge.
We have a range of activities that visitors who wish to, add on their gorilla safari like canoeing at Lake Bunyonyi, game drives and boat cruise in Queen Elizabeth national park.