Bwindi national park is one of the most popular tourist destinations and also one of the most ecologically diverse hotspots in the entire world, located in south western Uganda and at the border of Rwanda and Uganda covering an area of 331sq.km.

 A journey taking 9-10 hours’ drive through Mbarara from Kampala the capital city of Uganda. The park is covered by both montane rainforest and lowlands, also it is found in Virunga conservation area.

The forest is a home to over 120 species of mammals of which of 10 are primates including red tailed and blue monkeys, Colobus monkeys, baboons and even chimpanzees, more than 350 bird species and more than 250 species of butterflies. Bwindi is the only park in east and central Africa where chimpanzees and mountain gorillas co-exist in the same environment.

More than a half of the world’s population of rare mountain gorillas is found in Bwindi impenetrable forest about 400 out of 880 individuals, also the park is a home of the indigenous people that is the Batwa whose life Is based on the forest through gathering of fruits, roots and also hunting.

The park is divided into four sectors where gorilla trekking can be taken and these are Ruhija, Buhoma, Nkuringiro and Rushaga. As part of you Bwindi experience, you will have additional experiences of pristine crystal clear waterfalls, swamps and rivers, Bamboo forests, elephants, colourful butterflies, rare birds, monkeys and of course the mountain gorillas.

History

The Park ca be found in south western Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. Before getting a National park status, two blocks of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest were designated as Crown Forest Reserves in 1932 and stretched on an area of about 298Km². Late in 1964, it was changed into an animal sanctuary in order to protect the rare mountain gorillas.

The Rwenzori Mountains Reserve, Impenetrable Forest Reserve, and Mgahinga Gorilla Reserve were designated as a national park and named it the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park the Rwenzori Mountains Reserve.

Due to the existence of almost half of the world’s mountain gorillas in 1993, the parks management, the Uganda National Parks (UNP) which later changed into Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) bought a piece of land from the Batwa people-first habitants of Bwindi forest that extended a further 4Km² and was embraced to the park. Its Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of plants.

Indigenous people around Bwindi forest calls it “Mubwindi bwa nyinamuraki”.The forest has a swamp in the southern sector and one time a family wanted to cross the  swamp but it seemed to be impenetratable because of the thick vegetation. Ugandans believe forest heads are spirits and this family asked permission from the spirits to cross peacefully.

Bwindi impenetrable forest was gazetted as a National Park in 1991 and declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994.

Bwindi happens to be home to more than half of these gorillas. The gorilla population in Bwindi has steadily risen because of sustained efforts by the Uganda government through the Uganda Wildlife Authority. While the 1997 gorilla census indicated about 300 individuals, the rise was witnessed in 2002 with 320 and again in 2006 with 340 individuals.

What to do in the park

Gorilla trekking and habituation. There are now more than 15 gorilla families that are designated for tourism. These families can be tracked with four major trailheads of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. Habituation is a four-hour gorilla interaction where people observe, photograph and learn how gorilla behaviour adapts to human presence. Gorilla habituation is the ultimate as far as your personal experience with gorillas can get. Trekking takes 1-2hours.

Hiking and Nature Walks. With the hilly landscape and pure environment, hiking to any hill or taking a nature walk will fill you up with goodness only mother nature can provide.

Bird watching. It is true that birds of the same feathers flock together. This is even more true in Bwindi with more than 350 species adding beauty to the rich ecosystem.

Cultural Experience. Learn about the old traditions and untold folklore will not only give you a great perspective of their past, but also an appreciation of the future for humans as a species. The Bakiga and Batwa will give offer you the great experience in culture with amazing dances

Community Walks around in the community and get your own first hand feel of the day to day goings-on of the people who live adjacent to this magnificent park. You can also get to purchase locally made handicrafts as souvenirs of your time in Bwindi.

Cycling/Mountain Biking, a well-maintained trail from the park headquarters at Buhoma to the Ivi River which favour mountain biking. Along this 13km trail you may see wildlife such as bushbucks, black-and-white colobus and red-tailed monkeys.

When to visit the park

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is located in a mountainous region, where chances of rain are so high and can rain at any time of the day. However, much rainfall is during the night or early in the morning. The sun does come out on most days.

The best time of the year to visit Bwindi Impenetrable Forest includes the months of January through March, June through October and the last two weeks of December.

Getting there

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a 9 hour plus drive from Entebbe International Airport.  You can break that long drive into smaller drives by incorporating different parks and activities.

Fly into Kigali, Kigali International Airport is the gateway to Southwest Uganda.  A mere 4-hour drive and you are in Rushaga or Nkuringo in the Southern End of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with some of the best Gorilla Trekking in Uganda.