Bwindi impenetrable national park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the world capital for most gorilla trekking tours in Africa. The national park is located in the southwestern region of Uganda, in the district of Kanungu. The national park is among the smallest parks in Uganda, spanning over an area of 321 square kilometers.
This national park shelters over 400 mountain gorillas, which is roughly half of the world’s population. A great majority of the park’s mountain gorillas have been habituated and can be tracked by visitors throughout the year. The national park is managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority, a government parastatal that oversees the management of all the national parks in Uganda, including about 12 wildlife reserves.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park in Uganda has 15 habituated gorilla groups for tourism, and three other habituated groups that are strictly meant for research purposes. Apart from its mountain gorillas, the park has got other interesting attractions such as; wildlife animals, birds and unique cultures like the Batwa, who are well known hunter-gathers with ancient attachments to the forest.
The national park is elevated at an altitude between 1,160 to 2,607 meters above sea level. The park established in 1991 and later declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. It is part of the renowned ‘Bwindi Impenetrable Forest’ and is located on the edge of the Albertine Rift. The forest is known to be rich in bio-diversity of flora and fauna species, and is strategically located on Uganda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park receives tropical climate with annual average temperatures ranging between 7°C to 20°C and a maximum of about 20°C to 27°C. The park experiences its coldest months between June and July. Given the fact that the national park is situated with a rainforest, it receives up to 2,390 mm of rain annually. During the dry season Bwindi impenetrable forest’s climate gets hot during the day with temperatures of about 30 degrees Celsius and in the morning it gets so cold with mist and fog covering the forest and the temperatures drop to about 9 degrees Celsius.
The park receives rainfall all year round which is characterized by short rains in the months of March to April, and receives heavy rains in the months of September to November. However, during the rainy season the climate in the national park gets mild and wet with heavy rains and sometimes can drizzle the whole day. The rainy season in Bwindi makes gorilla trekking hard and challenging in that the grounds will be wet, muddy, slippery and the gorilla trekking trails can be impassable. However the rainy season is good for birding because the migratory birds will come to breed in Bwindi forest hence giving visitors a great experience while in the park.
What to see and do in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Tourists visiting Bwindi impenetrable national park have a lot exciting activities to do, as well as stunning wildlife to see while in the national park and these include;
Trekking mountain gorillas:
As earlier mentioned, Bwindi national park is home to an estimated 400 mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park is one heck of an interesting and exciting activity, and the activity is the major highlight of any visit to the national park. These endangered primate species are a subspecies of the eastern gorilla species, and are the highlight of most visits to the park. Bwindi has fifteen habituated gorilla groups that visitors can trek on a visit to the park. Gorilla trekking activities in Bwindi start from Buhoma visitor center and usually last about 8 hours, including one hour spent with the gorillas once they have been located. The habituated gorilla groups can be tracked from four trailheads in the park and these include; Buhoma sector that has three habituated gorilla groups, the Ruhija sector that has four gorilla groups, the Nkuringo sector which has four gorilla groups, and finally the Rushaga sector that has four habituated gorilla groups. The national park provides eight trekking permits for each of the gorilla groups, thus issuing a daily maximum of 120 permits. Registration for visitors trekking gorillas begins at 7:30am every morning, which is followed by a briefing at exactly 8am. Tracking gorillas eventually begins at exactly 8:30am, after visitors have be allocated to their respective trekking groups. Visitors tracking mountain gorillas in the park are advised to book their gorilla trekking permits at least 6 months in advance.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is also the only gorilla destination in Africa that carries out gorilla habituation process where visitors spend more time with the mountain gorillas compared to the one hour given during gorilla trekking. Gorilla habituation process in Bwindi national park takes place in Rushaga sector at a fee of USD 1500 dollars per person.
Nature walks in Bwindi impenetrable national park are very adventurous and thrilling, and the activity can be done by visitors of all ages. Although gorilla trekking is the main attraction in Bwindi, other activities are offered in the national park like guided nature walks. Nature walks provide visitors with an opportunity to explore Bwindi impenetrable forest, which is one of the loveliest rainforests in Uganda. Nature walks in the national park take place every morning at 9am and 2pm in the afternoon. There are walking trails which offer visitors in the park great sites, and these include;
Munyaga River Trail: this trail is located below the Buhoma trailhead and provides visitors with a short walk to view birds and primates living within the forest.
The Waterfall Trail: This trail leads visitors through one of Uganda’s most pristine tracts of rainforest, passing beneath tree ferns and orchids, and leading to three beautiful sparkling crystal clear waterfalls.
Rushura Hill Trail: This trail provides unique views across the plains of the Albertine Rift Valley, and Lakes Edward and Rwenzori on clear days.
Muzabajiro Loop Trail: This trail climbs to the summit of Rukubira Hill giving visitors breathtaking views of Bwindi forest, the Albertine Rift Valley and Virunga Volcanoes.
Other trailheads such as River Ivi trail are also used by visitors taking nature walks in the forest.
Community Cultural Visits:
Community walks in Bwindi offers visitors a chance to interact with local communities living near the national park and learn about their rich cultural heritage. The Buniga Forest Walk at Nkuringo can be done after trekking gorillas in that sector. This community walk is conducted by Batwa guides who demonstrate their vast knowledge of the forest.
Bird watching in Bwindi Impenetrable national park is a great activity for bird lovers. The national park offers its visitors excellent bird watching opportunities, starting from four major trailheads. All four trailheads in the national park are perfect birding spots, with the River Ivi Trail between Buhoma and Nkuringo being the most recommended trailhead for visitors on birding expeditions. Other trails include; Ruhija’s Bamboo Trail, Munyaga River trail, and Mubwindi Swamp trail.
Other interesting activities and sights in the park include; the Batwa Trail Experience, mountain bike riding and hiking to mention but a few.
Accommodation in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Visitors looking to spend a night or more in the park can find accommodation in facilities such as; Silverback Lodge, Gorilla Safari Lodge in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi, Gorilla Resort, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Buhoma Lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Camp, Ruhija Gorilla Mist Camp, and Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge among others. These lodges carter for luxury, mid-range and budget visitors. Visitors can also choose to stay in hotels in Kisoro town or any lodge at Lake Mutanda.
What to pack when visiting Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Visitors travelling to Bwindi impenetrable national park are advised to pack gorilla trekking equipment’s like warm clothes such as cotton sweaters, long sleeved shirt and trousers for warmth during trekking in the morning or during the rainy season and at night while at the lodge, hiking shoes, hat and sunglasses, garden gloves, waterproof rain jacket, backpack, long stockings, camera to capture all the moments on your safari in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park among others.
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi impenetrable national park can be reached by road and air transport means. By road you will drive from Kampala via Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale and then to the park headquarters in one of the sectors. Bwindi can also be reached from Queen Elizabeth national park through Ishasha sector or by public means where you can board a public bus from Kampala to kabala and then hire a private vehicle to the park and the journey takes about 9 to 10 hours’ drive.
By air transport means, you can book scheduled or chartered flights where you will fly from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kihihi airstrip, Kisoro airstrip or Kayonza airstrip near Buhoma sector and then connect by road to the park headquarters.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda is undoubtedly the number one destination in the world for visitor who wishes to experience the ultimate gorilla trekking safari.
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