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Gorilla Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is Africa’s top tourist destination for mountain Gorilla tracking and viewing, with a spectacular vegetation cover, a great view, culture and tour activities. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. Its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of plants. More famously, this “impenetrable forest” also protects an estimated 400 mountain gorillas – roughly half of the world’s population, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked.

This biologically diverse region also provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes. There are around 350 species of birds hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics.

Overview | Gorilla Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in the south-west of Uganda. The park is part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and is situated along the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) border next to the Virunga National Park and on the edge of the Albertine Rift. Composed of 321 square kilometres (124 sq mi) of both montane and lowland forest, it is accessible only on foot. BINP is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization-designated World Heritage Site.

Species diversity is a feature of the park. It provides habitat for 120 species of mammals, 348 species of birds, 220 species of butterflies, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos, and many endangered species. Floristically, the park is among the most diverse forests in East Africa, with more than 1,000 flowering plant species, including 163 species of trees and 104 species of ferns. The northern (low elevation) sector has many species of Guineo-Congolian flora, including two endangered species, the brown mahogany and Brazzeia longipedicellata. In particular, the area shares in the high levels of endemisms of the Albertine Rift.

The park is a sanctuary for colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, and many birds such as hornbills and turacos. It is most notable for the 400 Bwindi gorillas, half of the world’s population of the endangered mountain gorillas. 14 habituated mountain gorilla groups are open to tourism in four different sectors of Buhoma, Ruhijja, Rushaga and the Nkuringo in the Districts of Kanungu, Kabale and Kisoro respectively all under the management of Uganda Wildlife Authority.

 

Geography and Climate of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park:

The park is composed of two blocks of forest that are connected by a corridor of forest. The shape of the park is a legacy of previous conservation management, when the original two forest blocks were protected in 1932. There is agricultural land where there were previously trees directly outside the park’s borders.

The park’s underlying geology consists of Precambrian shale phyllite, quartz, quartzite, schist, and granite. The park is at the edge of the Western Rift Valley in the highest parts of the Kigezi Highlands, which were created by up-warping of the Western Rift Valley. Its topography is very rugged, with narrow valleys intersected by rivers and steep hills. Elevations in the park range from 1,190 to 2,607 metres (3,904 to 8,553 ft) above sea level,  and 60 percent of the park has an elevation of over 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). The highest elevation is Rwamunyonyi Hill at the eastern edge of the park. The lowest part of the park is at its most northern tip.

The forest is an important water catchment area. With a generally impermeable underlying geology where water mostly flows through large fault structures, water infiltration and aquifers are limited. Much of the park’s rainfall forms streams, and the forest has a dense network of streams.

Bwindi has a tropical climate. Annual mean temperature ranges from a minimum of 7 to 15 °C (45 to 59 °F) to a maximum of 20 to 27 °C (68 to 81 °F). Its annual rainfall ranges from 1,400 to 1,900 millimetres (55 to 75 in). Peak rainfall occurs from March to April and from September to November. The park’s forest plays an important role in regulating the surrounding area’s environment and climate. High amounts of evapotranspiration from the forest’s vegetation increases the precipitation that the region outside the park receives. They also lessen soil erosion, which is a serious problem in south-western Uganda. They lessen flooding and ensure that streams continue to flow in the dry season

How To Get There

By Road: Bwindi can be reached from Queen Elizabeth National Park to the north (2-3 hours), from Kabale to the south (1-2 hours), or from Kampala via Mbarara (6-8 hours). The roads meet at Butogota, 17km from the Buhoma entrance gate. A 4WD vehicle is necessary during the rainy season. A daily bus service leaves Kampala for Butogota via Rukungiri and Kihiihi. A matatu (public minibus), hire car, or boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) can be taken from Butogota to the park entrance gate at Buhoma.

By Air: Travelers can fly from Entebbe or Kampala (Kajjansi airfield) to the modern tarmac airstrip at Kisoro. Planes can also be chartered to the grass Kayonza or Savannah airstrips. Bwindi is well served by three airfields at Kayonza and Kihiihi for the northern sector and Nyakabande in Kisoro for those going to track gorillas in the southern sector (Nkuringo, Nshongi, and Mishaya).

 

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park | Getting around:

  • Bwindi’s various trailheads can be reached by vehicle. However there are no roads within the park itself, which is explored on foot. Bwindi is aptly named the ‘impenetrable forest’; paths pass through dense vegetation and can be steep. Take advantage of walking sticks offered at the start of a walk.

Wildlife And Activities

Gorilla Tracking in Bwindo Impenetrable:

  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is best known for its Mountain Gorilla populations and gorilla tracking. There are 4 locations for tracking gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable national park these are Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. The 4 locations have a total of about 18 families as of December 2018.

Birding in Bwindi Impenetrable:

  • Bwindi a varied habitat which is Uganda’s oldest forest mean it is the ideal home for a variety of birds, with 350 species recorded, including 23 endemics (90% of all Albertine Rift endemics) such as the Short-tailed Warbler and Blue-headed Sunbird as well as seven IUCN red data listed species. Easy to see are the African Emerald Cuckoo, Common Bulbul, African Blue and White-tailed Blue Flycatchers and Red-headed Bluebill.

Hiking/Natural Walks in the Kidepo Valley:

  • There are six main nature trails in Buhoma for those who wish to explore the “impenetrable forest”, including waterfall walks, forest walks, primate encounters, mountain views and impressive birdlife.

Cultural Tours:

  • Explore the culture of the local Bakiga and Batwa communities with village walks, blacksmith visits, craft shops and vibrant dances – all against the astounding backdrop of the forest-covered hills of Bwindi.

 

Cycling/ Mountain Biking in Bwindi Impenetrable:

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

Where To Stay

Bwindi Impenetrable national park has also got amazing accommodation options for you to stay.

Buhoma: Where to stay

  • Buhoma Community Rest Camp
  • Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp
  • Lake Kitandara Bwindi Camp
  • Buhoma Lodge
  • CTPH Gorilla Conservation Camp
  • Silverback Lodge
  • Volcanoes Safaris Bwindi Lodge
  • Engagi lodge
  • Gorilla Resort
  • Mahogany springs camp
  • Bwindi Guest House
  • Bwindi View Bandas
  • Eco Marvels Gorilla Resort
  • Gorilla Friends Lodge
  • Jungle View Lodge

Nkuringo: Where to stay

  • Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge
  • Nkuringo Gorilla Camp
  • Nshongi Camp
  • Chameleon Hill Lodge

 

Nyundo: Where to stay

  • Nyundo Valley Hill Bandas

 

Ruhija: Where to stay

  • Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge
  • Ruhija Gorilla Mist Camp
  • Trekkers Tavern cottages
  • Gift of Nature Lodge
  • Ruhija Gorilla Resort
  • Ruhija Gorilla Friends Resort & Campsite
  • Ruhija Community Rest Camp

 

Rubuguri: Where to stay

  • Wagtail Eco-Safari Camp
  • Chameleon Hill Lodge

 

Rushaga: Where to stay

  • Gorilla Safari Lodge
  • Chameleon Hill Lodge
  • Rushaga Gorilla Camp

Gallery

When To Visit

Bwindi Impenetrable national park is open to visitors throughout the year, but the park is best visited during the dry seasons of the year that is from the month of June, July, August, December, January to February, these months receive little or no rainfall at all which has influenced a number of activities to take place including Gorilla trekking, birding experience, nature walks, and others, during this time, the trails are dry and the ground is less slippery enabling easy access through the trails.

 

Bwindi Impenetrable national park can also be visited during the wet season from the month of March, May, and September to November since the park is open and all the activities take place regardless of the rain. During the rain season, the park is green with plenty of food and fruits which attracts Many birds, and by this time, there will be a lot of Migratory birds.