Also known as the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of Uganda’s most popular tourism sites and it attracts a large number of tourists due to its popularity and most of the tourists come from outside countries basically to carryout Gorilla trekking.
It is located in Kanungu district Southwest of Uganda , West of the Great Rift valley and 25km North of Virunga Mountains.
Mountain gorillas are the most wildlife species in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park as this place harbors almost half of the world’s population of endangered species that reside within her boundaries.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was established in 1991 due to the need to protect the lives of the Mountain Gorillas from poachers who were mostly the Batwa people practicing it as a traditional hunting game. The Batwa people later lost their hunting grounds after the establishment of the park.
The Batwa people were later resettled in areas surrounding the park and switched to farming.
This park that borders Rwanda south west and DRC in the west, was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site because of its ecological importance and the diverse unique ecosystem it does have.
The name “Bwindi” was derived from a Runyakitara word “Mubwindi” which also means darkness and comes from the thickness of the hardwood trees and bamboo trees found in this forest. These trees grow too close leaving no room for light and hence the name Bwindi.
Size and Surface Area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
This park is one of the largest national parks in Uganda. It occupies a total area of 331 square kilometers and lies at an altitude of 1160m to 2607m above the sea level. The park was created through the merging of three former protected areas include; The Impenetrable Central Forest, The Mgahinga Gorilla Reserve and The Rwenzori Mountains reserve.
What to see in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The main tourist attraction found in this park are Mountain Gorillas. It also has other animals and birds you shouldn’t miss. The park has 120 mammal species (forest elephants, blue monkeys, red tailed monkeys, chimpanzees, bush pigs, duikers and clawless otters), 348 bird species (African black ducks, black bee-eaters and giant kingfishers) 220 butterfly species and 27 frog species, among others.
Activities done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Among the activities carried out in the park are; Gorilla trekking, Gorilla Habituation, Bird watching, The Batwa cultural experience, forest walking.
Gorilla trekking is the most carried out activity in this park and has attracted many tourists from different parts of the world. For one to go for Gorilla trekking, you will need a gorilla trekking permit which can be purchased from the Uganda Wildlife Authority at UGX7500000 for the Ugandans/East African citizens, $700 for the non-resident foreigners and $600 for the resident foreigners.
Gorilla trekking involves hiking through the impenetrable forest looking for mountain gorillas with the help of rangers, trackers and guides. It is a rewarding and an unforgettable experience especially when you get to see man’s closest relative relax, feed in their natural habitat. The feeling is unmatched.
Gorilla Habituation is another activity carried out in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and it involves studying and taking notes about the different gorilla families. The park is divided into four sectors namely; Buhoma which is located in the Northern part of Bwindi, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga. Gorilla habituation mostly takes place in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Bird watching is mostly done in the Ruhija sector of this park and mainly done along Mubwindi swamp trail, the main trail and bamboo zone, this activity is commonly done in the morning hours because there many different bird species for the tourists to watch.
The best time to watch birds in Bwindi impenetrable forest is December to February when there are less rains, in November to April, only birds which migrate are available. One needs binoculars for clear view of birds in far places and comfortable hiking boots because the area is so muddy.
Forest hiking involves nature walks where tourists move place to place around the park with the help of rangers and guides who the tourists about different species of wild life found inside the park. During hiking, tourists use different trails for example the Munyaga River Trail that leads travelers to the nice-looking water falls in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Munyaga river trail runs from Rushaga gate or Buhoma gate basing on where the tourists are coming from and it takes about 3-4 hours. There is also the Buhoma-Nkuringo trail which takes up to 6 hours.
Visit to Lake Mutanda which is located in the southern part of the park and so adventurous that tourists need to visit this area just to unwind and refresh after the Gorilla trekking. The lake has many islands that can be explored by the tourists with the help of guides. A moment at lake Mutanda is so memorable that one shouldn’t miss.
Mountain biking is mostly done in Buhoma sector and it gives the best biking experience which is provided by different companies that have bikes for hire, guides and organize the best riding experience. The guides share knowledge about the community, the Batwa culture and wild life species found in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Mountain biking needs physically fit people to manage the mountainous areas of the park.
The Batwa cultural experience, The Batwa people are a group of people who initially lived in the Bwindi Impenetrable forests before becoming squatters in areas near the park. During the cultural experience, the Batwa people share their stories of how they lived, hunted, collected wild honey and plants they used for food and medicine. They also share their songs and dance to the tourists.
Accommodation in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
There are many hotels and lodges found in Bwindi falling into various categories to cater for every tourist’s budget.
For example, there are luxurious hotels like The Volcanoes Bwindi lodge, Buhoma lodge, Sanctuary lodge and Clouds Mountain Gorilla lodge which are basically for the high-class tourists.
Others include mid-range lodges and hotels for the average class tourists like Gorilla safari lodge, Ruhondeza lodge, Bwindi Guest House, Montel Santaviva.
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
There are basically two means one can use to reach this park and these include; by road and air respectively. The fastest mean to reach the park is definitely by air and one can take a flight from Entebbe International Airport or from Kajjansi airstrip in Kampala to Kayonza and Kihihi airstrips which serve the North of the park which is 103km and worth $170 and Nyakabaale in Kisoro district which serves the Southern part and is 465.5km from Entebbe, 3hr drive.
By road, you will need to use the Kampala-Mbarara-Kisoro road to reach the park. This will be a 9-10hrs drive and while on the road, you will be able to enjoy the different beautiful scenic views made up of rolling hills and valleys.
Best Time to Visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
You can go for Gorilla trekking at any time any month of the year because the Gorillas do not hibernate.
During the wet season, the area is very muddy and receives a lot of rainfall which can hinder your movements. Therefore, the best time to visit the park is during the dry season because little or no rainfall is received around the park premises making the trails within the park dry and less slippery.
Although one to visit, you should be physically fit to manage climbing mountains looking for the mountain gorillas. Regardless of the time you choose to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the trip remains adventurous and memorable.
To be honest with you, a visit to Uganda without going to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park remains incomplete because the park provides you with great wildlife experience and memorable moments that one shouldn’t miss in his/her journey for adventure.
We have a large fleet of cars for hire just in case you are planning on a self drive to this part of Uganda. Talk to us today via +256 759498123 or fill our request form with your details and we will get back to you as soon as possible