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Six Safari Activities To Do In Bwindi – Before Or After Gorilla Trekking Uganda
There is a number of amazing things to do in Bwindi before or after gorilla trekking Uganda safaris.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was declared a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its incredibly bio-diverse ecosystem and natural beauty.
Bwindi’s fern-rich, vine-covered canopies shelters approximately 120 mammal species, 220 species of butterflies, and several amphibians and reptiles.
There are also over 400 species of plants and 350 bird species, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics. More famously this beautiful rainforest is home to 50% of the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas. It is the top destination for trekking gorillas in Uganda.
Bwindi gorilla trekking tours usually take at least three days. On day one, you will be transferred to Bwindi, day two you will trek the gorillas, and on day three you will be transferred back to Entebbe or Kampala.
You may thus ask what additional activities you might add to your gorilla trekking vacation in Bwindi, Uganda. Here are our top recommendations for things to do in Bwindi Before or After Gorilla Trekking
Scenic Forest Walks – Hikes In Bwindi Forest
Forest nature hikes are among the most suggested things to do in Bwindi before or after gorilla trekking.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park provides captivating forest nature walks in addition to the famed gorilla trekking activity.
You may spend your time here on slow, scenic, guided forest walks, taking in the incredible views and sounds of the rainforest and its natural beauty.
You will have ample opportunities see hundreds of bird species, a range of unique tree species, chameleons, geckos, colorful butterflies, and uncommon flowering plants such as orchids. There are also opportunities to see the park’s monkey species as they move through the forest canopy.
A popular option is the three to four hour round hike in Buhoma Sector that leads a gorgeous waterfall.
Hiking enthusiasts may explore a number of other hiking trails such as:
- Munyanga River Trail, which is excellent for birders.
- Muzabajiro Loop Trail, where you climb up to Rukubira hill for spectacular views of the Virunga ranges.
- Rushura Hill Trail, which takes you to Rushura hill, the highest in Bwindi at 1,915m
- Ivy River Trail that take you from Buhoma sector to Nkuringo sector.
- Kashasha River Trail that takes from Buhoma to Nkuringo.
- Mbwindi Swamp Trail, which is also great for bird lovers
Community Walks (Bwindi Lives & Livelihoods Guided Trails)
Number three of our 7 top things to do in Bwindi before or after gorilla trekking is community village walks.
On these cultural walks, you can explore various trails known as the Bwindi lives and livelihood guided trails. These unique trails provide more understanding of this culturally rich region of Uganda.
A knowledgeable guide will take you on a tour of the traditional ways of life and local culture, as well as the surrounding landscapes and wildlife in the surrounding area.
The cultural trails were established to support poor people living close to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, under the ‘Local economic development through ‘pro-poor’ gorilla tourism in Uganda’ project, which is funded by the Darwin Initiative of United Kingdom Government .
All of the money paid for the encounters is retained in the local community . This money covers payments for guide and the locals you will meet on the walk. Here are the trails to explore:
Traditional Rural Life & Batwa Culture Trail
With a knowledgeable guide, you will explore the natural, cultural, and everyday treasures outside of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest on this trail.
Your journey will begin at the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park entrance in Buhoma. You will visit a traditional healer who have learned his trade many years ago when his family was residing in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
You will also tour a tea garden, fish and vegetable farm, as well as banana and coffee plantations. So, there will be so many different things to touch, smell, and, if you like, taste.
You have the Batwa Cultural experience. The Batwa People have lived in the Bwindi Forest for over 1000 years. They are one of Africa’s oldest indigenous tribes still in existence. These people have a truly unique relationship with Uganda rainforest – and believe in a legend passed down generations that their god Nagasan entrusted them with the responsibility of being the “Caretakers of the Forests”.
At a small glade near a stream, the Batwa chief will greet you, in traditional forest costume, tell you about his ancestor’s heritage and demonstrate their ways of life. You will be immersed in how they survived in the forest as hunter-gatherers and witnessing first-hand their symbiotic relationship with nature.
There will be several opportunities throughout the trail to view the stunning panoramic views and the beautiful birdlife along the Munyaga River. Here, you could even pause for a while and take a dip in the cool, clear water.
The walk will end at the Ride 4 A Woman Craft Cooperative, where you can have a cup of tea with the talented women weavers, as you marvel at their sewing and weaving skills.
This centre was established provide abused women with a way to earn income through renting and servicing bicycles. But it has evolved into a successful cooperative where women learn weaving and sewing techniques.
This adventure takes 3-4 hours and covers 5.5 km. This is a guided tour only.
Rubugiri Origins & Honey Trail
Another of the fascinating things to do in Bwindi before or after gorilla trekking is discovering the scenic Rubuguri hills on a guided cultural trail with a local guide.
You will learn about the stories and legends of Rubuguri town as you take in the natural beauty of this region of Uganda and the culture of the residents.
Your adventures will start in the town of Rubuguri at a local market.
Every Friday at this market, local people and visitors from the nearby countries of Rwanda and DR Congo gather here to sell and buy clothes, livestock, and locally grown fruit and vegetables.
This trail also takes you to a tea nursery and a honey processing centre where you learn about how tea is produced and how honey is made. If you are fortunate, you can even encounter the gold miners and the Batwa People and hear their amazing stories.
Your guide will also share local legends, including the tale of Nyandwi, who took refuge in the Rubuguri cave that you’ll visit, and the story of the footprints in the Rubuguri origins rocks.
The 2.5 km long walk in Rushaga Sector, south of Bwindi, takes two hours to complete.
Reformed Poachers Trail
The reformed poacher trails also take you through the scenic Rubuguri hills. With your experienced local guide, you’ll learn all about the daily lives of locals as you meet weavers, farmers, and beekeepers.
Your journey will commence at the Bwindi Honey Shop in Rubuguri Town.
From there, you will explore banana plantations, coffee farm, and the market gardening enterprise that was started as an alternative to poaching. You’ll see how local people earn a living.
On this trail, you can look out for the kingfishers and grey crowned cranes (Uganda National Birds) at the Kashasha Wetlands. You’ll meet the highly talented ladies who weave baskets that reflect the beautiful landscape in which they live.
You will opportunities to see how people process coffee beans and make local gin. You can also buy local honey, baskets and other handicrafts.
The trail takes 3 to 4 hours, and covers about 6 km in south of Bwindi.
Bird Watching Tours In Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is offers the best montane-forest (mountain-forest) bird watching in all of Africa.
There is an estimated 350 species of birds, with 14 not recorded anywhere else in Uganda.
There are also 23 birds unique to the Albertine Rift (which is 90% of all Albertine Rift endemics), including Neumann’s warbler, African green broad-bill, and blue-headed sunbird. Here are the best bird watching areas of Bwindi:
- Birding In Ruhija Sector
Ruhija is the best birding hotspot in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
This sector is home to the Mubwindi Swamp, the most accessible site on Earth for the rare and localised Grauer’s Broadbill, one of Africa’s most sought-after birds. This globally threatened bird species is only known from 2 spots in the world, the other being a remote forest in eastern DR Congo.
Other species to watch out for in Ruhija include Carruthers’s cisticola, the localised Grauer’s swamp warbler, black-billed turaco, barred long-tailed cuckoo, the elusive dwarf honeyguide, Abyssinian thrush, Archer’s ground-robin, stripe-breasted tit, Rwenzori hill-babbler, Rwenzori apalis, Grauer’s warblers, Rwenzori batis, mountain sooty boubou, the rare Lagden’s bushshrike, and strange weaver.
On the flowering symphonias, you can see the incredible blue-headed, regal and scarce purple-breasted sunbirds, which are all highly desired Albertine Rift endemics. Dusky, red-faced and the phantom-like Shelley’s crimsonwing occur here too.
As the sun sets, Ruhija offers your best-bet Rwenzori Nightjar and African wood owl. And if you’re exceptionally lucky you can see rare Fraser’s eagle-owl.
Birding In Buhoma Sector
Buhoma sector of Bwindi has forest trails that offers the best chance to catch a glimpse of more rare birds like the enigmatic Chapin’s flycatcher, olive long-tailed cuckoo, red-throated alethe, Ross’s Turaco, bar-tailed trogon, handsome francolin, dusky tit, Abyssinian ground thrush;
Jameson’s antpecker, Neumann’s warbler, northern double-collared sunbird, black bee-eater, and newly described Willard’s sooty boubou, and sooty flycatcher, as well as Waller’s, Stuhlmann’s and narrow-tailed starlings.
Birding The Neck
“The Neck,’ a transitional area between Buhoma and Ruhija sectors are well known for black sparrowhawk, western bronze-naped pigeon, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, white-chinned Prinia, pink-footed puffback, the rare tiny sunbird and the dapper brown-capped weaver.
Away from the forests, amongst the vegetation fringing the tea estates you can strike it lucky with the highly sought-after dusky twinspot.
Here, you can also the yellow-bellied, Kandt’s waxbills, streaky seedeaters, yellow-crowned canary, noisy Chubb’s cisticola, Mackinnon’s shrikes, and with luck marvel at a sight of the beautiful Doherty’s bushshrike.
Visiting Bwindi Community Hospital
In Buhoma Sector, you can also be humbled by the work done by the Bwindi Community Hospital, which services at least 60000 people. The hospital is of good quality by local standards. And this is partly because it receives generous donations from tourists and other visitors to the park.
The hospital has a special section for children, provides eye and dental care beside the other common clinical services.
The hospital has helped reduce the mortality rate among the local communities and helped take services closer to people in need. Visitors are allowed access to most parts of the hospital to learn something about the healthcare system in a developing country.
Visiting Bwindi Bar & Restaurant
If you love food and drinks, another of the best things to do in Bwindi before or after gorillas is a visit to Visiting Bwindi Bar & Restaurant in Buhoma sector.
The facility trains young disadvantaged local people on the fundamentals of hospitality management. These include preparing some of the tastiest local and international dishes around.
This is the place to go if you want to try out local food like Uganda’s famous Rolex, cassava chips, Bwindi Salsa, Matooke and groundnut sauce.
Additionally, you may order American coffee and brownies, as well as other internationally recognized dishes.
- Relaxation At Your Lodge
After gorilla trekking through Bwindi’s rainforest, you can spend the rest of the day at leisure at one of the many Bwindi lodges. The lodges at Bwindi range from luxury, midrange to Budget.
Depending on your class of accommodation, you can enjoy a rejuvenating massage, get a drink at the bar and take in the amazing forest views from the elevated lounge, while the warm flames of the fireplace glow in the background. You can as well take a deep in a bathtub for soothing any aching muscles after a day of gorilla trekking in Bwindi.
More Things To Do Near Bwindi After Gorilla Trekking
Lake Bunyonyi Tour
Lake Bunyonyi is the most beautiful lake in Uganda. The lake is about 25km long, 7kg wide and 900m deep. It is the 2nd deepest lake in Africa and the 4th deepest lake in the world.
The lake is also surrounded by rolling terraced highlands of Kigezi and dotted with 29 islands, some of which have fascinating dark stories.
You can take a ride in a small dugout canoe to learn about some of them, from Punishment Island, where unmarried girls who got pregnant were abandoned to die of hunger, to Leprosy Island, which used to be a leper colony run by a Scottish missionary.
Lake Bunyonyi lies about 2 hour drive from Bwindi. It’s a perfect relaxing spot after gorilla trekking in Uganda. After your Uganda gorilla safaris, you can also take a boat cruise, Zipline across lake, or go for a swim in the lake.
Explore Lake Mutanda
The Rushaga sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park includes Lake Mutanda.
With the misty Virunga volcanoes as a backdrop and ringed by papyrus swamp, there are plenty of hikes, birdwatching, and water activities to be enjoyed around this lake after or before gorilla trekking in Bwindi.
Our Suggested Uganda Safaris Itineraries Featuring Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
- Triangle Gorilla Trekking Safari in Bwindi National Park
- 4 Day Uganda Gorilla Trekking Tour
- 5 Days Wildlife Gorilla Trekking Trip
- 5 Days To Bwindi Mountain Gorillas And Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
- 7 Days Of Gorilla Trekking, Chimpanzee Tracking And Game Drives
- 8 Days Safari To Bwindi Impenetrable Forest To Track Mountain Gorilla
- 10 Days Uganda Safari Of Big Apes And Big Cats
- 12 Days To Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda safari
- 16 Days Safari To Murchison Falls, Kibale National Forest And Bwindi
Frequently Asked Questions About Bwindi
Why Is Bwindi Called Impenetrable?
The name Bwindi is derived from the local Runyakitara word Mubwindi and means “a place full of darkness”. This name comes from the extensive stands of bamboo interspersed amongst the larger forest hardwoods. The bamboo and thick ground cover of ferns, vines, and other plant growth severely hinder direct access on foot.
What Animals Are In Bwindi?
At present the forest is believed to contain 120 mammals species, 350 bird species, 220 butterfly species and 27 frog species. Included among the animals are forest elephants and yellow-backed duikers.
While mountain gorillas are the most notable of the forest’s primates, other residents include chimpanzees, blue monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, Vervet monkeys and black-and-white colobus monkeys.
What Is Bwindi Famous For?
Bwindi forest became popular to the world because of mountain gorilla trekking.
Bwindi is one of the most biologically forested diverse areas on Earth. Half of the world’s population of the highly endangered mountain gorillas lives within its borders. The forest has been recognized by UNESCO as a Natural World Heritage Site for its biological significance.
How Do I Get To Bwindi Impenetrable Forest?
You can get to Bwindi by road or air. Coming straight from Kampala or Entebbe, the driving time is 8 to 9 hrs. However, the quickest and easiest way to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is by scheduled flight from Entebbe International Airport to Kihihi Airstrip, but many people opt for Uganda safaris by road.
You can also approach Bwindi National Park from Queen Elizabeth National Park or Kibale Forest National Park with the drive taking 3 to 5 hours. Alternatively, you can access Bwindi from Lake Mburo National Park; the drive takes about four to 6 hours.
How Many Sectors Are In Bwindi?
In Bwindi National Park there are 4 sectors Ruhija, Rushaga, Buhoma & Nkuringo and each sector offers a different difficulty level for tracking the Gorillas.