Bwindi Forest National Park-Gorilla Trekking Tours in Uganda
Bwindi Forest National Park is located in the South Western Part of Uganda and a very popular Gorilla Trekking Destination to all travelers from all over the globe interested in watching the Gorillas in their thick green forest vegetation habitat on Holiday. The Park comprises of more than 160 species of trees, birds, ferns, butterflies covering an area of 32000 ha. In 1932, it was divided into two blocks called the Crown Forest Reserve.
These included the northern block “Kayonza Crown Forest Reserve” and the southern block “Kasatora Crown Forest Reserve”. Being combined together, enlarged and protected, these covered 207 square kilometers and were renamed the Impenetrable Central Crown Forest which covered 298 square kilometers under the joint control of the Ugandan government’s game and forest departments.
In 1964, the reserve became a habitat providing protection to various wildlife species like the Mountain Gorillas hence called the Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve. In 1966, other two forest reserves were added to the main reserve there by increasing its area to 321 square kilometers. The park continued to be managed both as a game and forest reserve.
In 1991 the park was designated a National Park hence a Mountain Gorilla trekking Destination and in 1994, Gorilla trekking was opened as a tourist activity in the park and this has changed and influenced the livelihoods of the local Batwa People in a good way.
Getting to Bwindi Forest National Park
When travelling by bus, car, one can access Bwindi Forest National Park by taking a 2-3 hrs drive from Queen Elizabeth National Park to the North.
6 -8 hrs drive from Kampala through Mbarara and 1-2 from Kabale town to the southern and then you will meet a convergence at Butogota just 17 kilometers from Buhoma Entrance Gate.
During rainy seasons, we recommend one to use a 4×4 vehicle.
When travelling with air, one can opt to take a flight from Entebbe, Kajansi airfield the Kisoro Airstrip and Savannah Grass Kayonza Airstrip.
Bwindi is served by 3 airfields at Kihiihi, Kayonza for the northern area and Nyakabande in Kisoro for those that track mountain gorillas within the southern area which includes Nshongi,Mishaya and Nkuringo.
Safari Activities to do in Bwindi Forest National Park
Gorilla Trekking is the most prominent safari activity carried out in Bwindi Forest National Park and this requires travelers to go for briefing on the Dos and Don’ts around the Mountain Gorillas with their valid Gorilla Trekking Permits then later are distributed into groups of 8 then with an experienced Park Ranger guide, they transfer into the forest to track the Mountain Gorillas for 3-5 hours in the green forest vegetation and when they meet them, only an hour is allowed in their presence taking numerous photos to keep for memories.
Bwindi Forest National Park is a habitat for a variety of birds hence referred to as a bird-watchers’ paradise with 347 bird species of which ten of twenty six are threatened and 5 are endangered in Uganda. The National Park has 24 of the total 25 Albertine Rift endemic bird species of which some have partial distributions in other places in their range like Shelley’s Crimson-wing, African Green Broadbill and Chapin’s Flycatcher. On the main trail of the Buhoma Waterfall Trail , the bamboo zone and Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija is where birding occurs.
Gorilla Habituation Experience at Rushaga
Other than Gorilla Trekking, travelers can transfer to the Bwindi National Park at the Rushaga Sector for Gorilla habituation experience as this offers them an opportunity to spend more time in the presence of the Mountain Gorillas. The habituation experience takes about 4 hours with researchers as you learn more about the rare species of Mountain Gorillas. This costs US $1500 per person interested in knowing the Mountain Gorillas in depth in the Rushaga Sector of Bwindi. There are two Gorilla Groups available for this adventure.
Hiking and Nature Walks
Hiking/nature walks take place in Buhoma and this includes six main nature trails.
Muyanga Waterfall Walk; here you depart from Buhoma along River Ivi-Nkuringo trail then get to the climax of a sensational sight at the falls swooping 33 meters.
Muzubijiro Loop; this is a 6km walk which involves moving around a hill where you will encounter primates , birds and have a clear view of the Virungas.
Rushura Hill Walk; here you can view Lakes George and Edward, the Rwenzori Mountains, the conical peaks of the Virunga Volcanoes and a forest shared by two countries.
The Ivi River Walk; this involves moving along Mukempunu – meaning “a place of pigs” and here wild pigs are often allocated.
The Buhoma-Nkuringo Walk; this takes3-4hrs crossing through the park joining two villages offering clear views of the misty hillsides while ascending towards Nkuringo. This walk can be completed as part of the Ivi River Walk.
The Habinyanja (Railegh) Trail takes 4-6hrs.While overlooking the Buhoma river, cross the Munyaga river and take a steep ascent of the Riyovi and Habigorogoro Ridge. When taking this trail, you will find the legendry “African Corner” that was once a rock piece resembling the map of Africa. With this steep ascent hikers can enjoy the gentle slope towards Habinyanja swamp. Birds like the Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Black Duck and Black Bee Eaters can be sighted.
Community Walks at Bwindi Forest National Park are a very exciting safari activity carried out and this requires transferring with a skilled park ranger guide to the local Batwa people to learn about their lives since the ancient days. These will perform you their art through Music, Dance and Drama as well as daily activities an experience very exceptional to all that take part in it. After your adventure, you can by some local souvenir to take with your back home.
The Best Time to Go For Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi
The Best Time to Track Gorillas is during the dry season of June, July, August, September and partially October. Though, due to global warming, its hard to predict the state of the weather since sometimes it rains unexpectedly hence making it difficult and challenging since the trails become very slippery and dangerous to trek on. Additionally, the vegetation also usually grows hence reducing visibility and clear photography.