Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is Uganda’s ultimate gorilla trekking safari destination, hosting over half of all the remaining 1063 mountain gorillas on earth. It is located in Kanungu and Kabale district, Southwestern Uganda. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was founded in 1991 as a national park, primarily to shelter a section of the endangered mountain gorillas and today, it is a premier Uganda safari destination attracting thousands of tourists on gorilla safaris.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is also one of the few designated UNESCO Heritage Site since 1994 given its ecological biodiversity. The park occupies a smaller area of 331sq.kms but boasts of 4 major gorilla trekking regions where 36 gorilla families are distributed, 20 of which are currently open for tourism purposes. They include Rushaga and Nkuringo in the South, Buhoma area/region in the North and Ruhija sector in the East.
Wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi impenetrable National Park is well-known for its rich biodiversity that includes 120 different species of mammals. These dwell in various habitats of the park that range from elevation of about 1160-2706. The park shelters over 459 mountain gorillas, bush pigs, black fronted duikers, elephants, bush pigs, buffaloes, bats, rodents, giant forest hogs, blue monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, Galago, chimpanzees, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys and a lot more.
There exist also about 200 butterfly species, 8 of which, are endemic to the Albertine rift, 27 amphibians, reptiles and others. These make it an exceptional Uganda safari park.
Birdlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
In addition to mountain gorillas, there exist also over 360 bird species in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which makes it one of the best bird watching destinations in Uganda and East Africa. 23 species of its bird record are endemic to Albertine rift and 14 exist nowhere else in Uganda.
Some of the amazing Bwindi’s birds to identify on Uganda birding tour include the white bellied robin chat, Fraser’s eagle, Shelley’s crimson wing, Chapin’s flycatchers, mountain masked apalis, black billed turaco, purple breasted sunbird, bronze napped pigeon, African green broadbill, standard winged nightjars, bar tailed trogon, Doherty’s bush shrike, Great blue turacos, chestnut throated apalis, red throated alethe, Archer’s robin chat, African wood owl, short tailed warblers, black breasted barbet, Kivu ground thrush and others.
Top activities to expect to do in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Gorilla trekking is one of the unique and the most rewarding Uganda wildlife safari experiences that shouldn’t miss out on your bucket-list. It is a captivating primate adventure offering tourists opportunity to encounter mountain gorillas in the wild. This is possible in anyone of the park’s 4 sectors (Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo or Rushaga).
Gorilla trekking permits can be obtained at US Dollars 700 (in case you are a foreign non-resident), US Dollars 600 (foreign residents) the Ugx250000 (East Africa Community citizens). A valid gorilla permit at hand lets you trek one of the 20 habituated gorilla family groups in Bwindi. Every gorilla family is trekked by 8 tourists each day and a park ranger guide is always assigned to accompany each group of trekkers.
Mountain gorilla habituation experience
It is only in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where gorilla habituation experience is carried out. You can be part of this rare adventure at $1500 per person and Kutu group is presently undergoing habituation process. Gorilla habituation experience is very different from the usual gorilla trekking adventure because it involves exploring the semi habituated gorillas, making them get used to human presence before they are opened to tourism. The process takes 2 years less or more but this varies depending on how fast the gorillas can become familiar to humans.
If there is one magical birding destination worth visiting while on Uganda safari then it is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It is also listed among the best birding areas by Africa Bird Club. The park features many birding trails
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a haven to over 360 bird species and among others include Fraser’s eagle, Shelley’s crimson wing, Chapin’s flycatchers, mountain masked apalis, black billed turaco, purple breasted sunbird, Doherty’s bush shrike, Great blue turacos, chestnut throated apalis, bronze napped pigeon, African green broadbill, standard winged nightjars, bar tailed trogon, red throated alethe, Archer’s robin chat, African wood owl, short tailed warblers, black breasted barbet, Kivu ground thrush.
Go nature walking on Uganda safari in Bwindi and enjoy the amazing view of birds, primates, plants to mention but a few. There exists diversity of trails, each trail leading tourists to park’s abundant habitats and they include the Buhoma-Nkuringo trail (4 to 5 hours), Ivi River walk (14kms), Rushura hill walk, Muyanga walk, Muzubijiro loop (6km) and others.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in Kigezi area characterized by magical rolling hills and breathtaking sceneries. Biking is one way to explore in and around this magnificent Uganda gorilla safari park. The different trails to take include Ivi river trail starting from Buhoma area to Ivi river and biking tours are usually arranged by Ride 4 a Woman.
Batwa cultural encounter
Bwindi is surrounded by communities like Bakiga and Batwa, each offering amazing cultural experience. The Batwa pygmies co-existed with mountain gorillas plus other wildlife for over 500000 before they were displaced to pave way for gorilla conservation.
There is a lot to learn while on Batwa cultural encounter ranging from enjoying the thrilling dances, music performances and opportunity to explore their ancient hunting and gathering techniques.
When to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a magical Uganda safari park with favorable climatic and weather condition making it an all year-round destination. However, the dry season is considerably the best for gorilla trekking and this occurs from June to September and December to February. If you are interested in bird watching, the wet months are more preferable because it is when most birds breed and migratory birds are attracted to the park. The wet season here begins from March-May and October-November.
Lodges in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is composed of 4 regions, each with comfortable lodges. Choosing the right lodge is one essential part of planning Uganda safari holiday to Bwindi. In Buhoma region, some of the lodges include Buhoma Haven Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Buhoma Lodge, Mahogany Springs Lodge, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Lodge and Bwindi Lodge.
In Ruhija area, there is Agandi Lodge, Broadbill Forest Camp, Bakiga Lodge while around Rushaga region, you can choose from Bwindi Jungle Lodge, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Gorilla Valley Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge. At Nkuringo region, the lodges for overnight stay include Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge and Nkuringo Safari Lodge.
How to access Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
There are 2 ways to reach Bwindi Impenetrable National Park on Uganda safari; by road or by air. By road, you can drive from Kampala and the route connect to different gorilla trekking regions. There is Kampala-Mbarara-Kabale-Ruhija route; Kampala-Ntungamo-Rukungiri-Kihihi-Buhoma route or Kampala via Kabale-Kisoro-Nkuringo or Rushaga area in the southern Bwindi National Park. You will spend approximately 9-10 hours driving but you can cut this short by driving from Kigali via Katuna/Chanika border about 3-4 hours.
By air, there are scheduled or charter flight services offered starting from Kajjansi/Entebbe airport to Kihihi airstrip where you can easily connect by road to Buhoma area or land into Kisoro then drive to Nkuringo, Rushaga and Ruhija sector.