Bwindi Forest National Park-Gorilla Trekking Destination in Uganda
Bwindi Forest National Park consists of over 160 species of trees, ferns, birds, butterflies, endangered species of Mountain Gorillas and is located south west of Uganda.
The park occupies an area of 32000 ha with unique bio diversity though, around 1932, it was split into two different parts referred to as the crown Forest reserves that consisted of the northern block called the Kayonza Crown Forest Reserve and the southern block called the Kasatora Crown Forest Reserve.
These were joined together hence forming the Impenetrable Central Crown Forest that occupied an area of 298 sq kms. In 1964, the reserve became a home to many wildlife species for example the endangered species of Mountain Gorillas and this was referred to as the Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve.
After its establishment, the Batwa people were affected due to their displacement in order to provide protection to the endangered species of Mountain Gorillas through conservation for future generations.
In April 1993, Gorilla tracking became a very prominent activity and in 1994, it was included on the World Heritage List.
How to get to Bwindi Forest National Park
If one is travelling by air, they can take on a flight from Entebbe Airport/ Kajansi airfield to Tarmac Airstrip Kisoro/ Savannah Grass Kayonza airstrip. For those that prefer to track Gorilla groups like the Nsongi, Mishaya, and Nkuringo, they can use three air strips around Bwindi i.e Kihiihi, Kayonza and Nyakabande.
Alternatively, one can travel by bus/ car and this includes transferring from Queen Elizabeth National park towards the north in 2-3 hours. One can travel in 6-8 hours from Kampala via Mbarara to this destination or 1-2 hours from Kabale town to the south where you will get to a junction at Butogota located just 17 kms from Buhoma Entrance Gate.
Things To Do & See in Bwindi Forest National Park
There are various activities one can involve themselves in while at Bwindi Forest National Park and these vary from one’s tastes and preferences. For example, Gorilla tracking, birding, Cultural encounters, hiking and nature walks.
This is the most activity carried out at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park providing extraordinary encounters and experiences to all travelers that visit the park while in Uganda. The park also inhabits other types of wildlife like the monkeys, candid antelope, elephants as well as various bird species.
There are different Gorilla families at Bwindi Impenetrable National park and these are distributed in various sectors i.e the Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, Nkuringo sectors. These include Mubare, Rushegura, Habinyanja, Mishaya, Nshongi, Kahungye, Busingye, Bweza, Bitukura, Oruzogo, Rushaga and Nkuringo Gorilla groups.
These can be tracked by transferring to the park head quarters to be briefed on the Dos and Don’ts around the Mountain Gorillas then later, you will transfer in groups of 8 people with a skilled ranger guide to track the Mountain Gorillas for a period of 3-5 hours and when you meet them, only a hour is allowed in their presence.
The Best time to go for Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Forest National Park
The Best Time to Go Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Forest National park during the dry season in the months of June, July, August, September and October.
However, since it is Africa and there is global warming, one must carry essential gear to protect/ help them since when it rains, it is difficult and very challenging due to the slippery muddy trails as well as the vegetation which out grows thickly hence making visibility and photography very hard.
Visit Bwindi Forest National Park a bird watcher’s paradise to spot various birds for there are about 347 species of which 10/26 are threatened and 5 are endangered. The park includes 24 Albertine Rift endemic bird species out of the popularly known 25 and some of these are allocated partially in different destinations like the Shelley’s Crimson-wing, African Green Broadbill and Chapin’s Flycatcher. Bird watching takes place along the Buhoma Waterfall Trail, the bamboo zone and Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija section.
Hiking/Nature walks at Bwindi
There are six main nature walk trails at Bwindi in the Buhoma sector.
Muyanga Waterfall Walk; On this trail, you will depart from Buhoma along the River Ivi-Nkuringo trail where you will transfer from after having very scenic views of the falls tumbling 33 meters.
Muzubijiro Loop; this walk takes about 6km and involves traveling from one place to another around the hill spotting various species of birds, primates as well as the great Virungas.
Rushura Hill Walk; on this walk, you will view the beautiful lakes i.e Edward and George, the conical peaks of the Virunga Volcanoes, Rwenzori Mountains as well as the vast forest shared by two countries.
The Ivi River Walk; this trail involves transferring along Mukempunu a term that means “a place of pigs”. Along this, you will see big populations of wild pigs.
The Buhoma-Nkuringo Walk; this walk will take 3-4hrs and involves crossing through the park where you will see the misty hillsides on your way down Nkuringo until your final destination i.e Ivi River.
The Habinyanja Trail; on this trail, you will take 4-6hrs to walk facing the Buhoma River where you will proceed from by crossing the Munyaga River. You will later on take a sharp incline of the Riyovi and Habigorogoro Ridge and while on this trail, you will encounter the historical “African Corner” that was before a rock chunk similar to the African map. While on this trail, you will like hiking along the gentle inclines toHabinyanja swamp and those interested in birding can spot a variety of bird species like the Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Black Duck and Black Bee Eaters.