Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park - Uganda
Close to Mgahinga National Park is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, where you may even have an even better chance of seeing the rare mountain gorilla, as seven groups are habituated there. As it's name "impenetrable" implies, this park is not quite accessible as Mgahinga, but its well worth the effort of going there.
Like Mgahinga, Bwindi impenetrable forest national parc which was gazetted in 1991, is one of the country's newest national parks. It covers 331 square kilometers which makes it the third largest forested area in Uganda and lies on the Democratic Republic of Congo border, adjacent to Parc National des Virungas of Democratic Republic of Congo. Situated on the edge of the western Rift Valley on the highest block of the Rukiga highlands, its one of the largest natural forests in East Africa containing both montane and lowland forest vegetation.
Bwindi ranges in altitude between 1,160 and 2,607 meters. The highlands on which the park sits consist of old (Precambrian) rock, much eroded and altered. Like Mgahinga, much of the vegetation is typically tropical rainforest, with a very dense thick undergrowth hence the name "impenetrable". Make no mistake about it tacking gorillas in this area is strenuous work.
Bwindi's 120 plus species of mammals make it one of the richest ecosystems in Africa. Primates are particularly abundant and include the mountain gorillaz, chimpanzee, blue monkey, red-tailed monkey, L'Hoest's monkey, black and white colobus monkey, baboon, potto and Demidoff's galago. Other mammals present include the bush pig, giant forest hog, clawless otter, golden cat, side stripped jackal and many species of bats and rodents.
Bird lovers will take delight in the fact that some 346 species are found there of which 184 are typical forest species. In addition Bwindi parc is home to more than 14 species of snakes , 27 species of frogs and toads, six chameleons and 14 Lizards, skinks and Geckos. You're also bound to notice the incredible variety of butterflies in the park: more than 202 species ave been identified so far.
If you're more into flora than fauna, you'll be interested to note that there are more than 163 species of trees in Bwindi, 10 of which occur nowhere else in Uganda and 16 of which show a very limited distribution elsewhere in Uganda.
Bwindi is located in the South Western part of Uganda, with Buhoma from where the gorillaz can be viewed located 120 kilometers from Kabale district (through Bulema and Butogota) , 550 kilometers from Kampala city and 267 kilometers from Mbarara district.
When to go
Like Mgahinga, Bwindi National Park is a rainforest and thus is wet all year round, although the course of the rains increase during the seasons of April - May and September - October. Ideally the best time to travel would be during the dry seasons of May - August and December - February.
Where to stay
There is a wide array of accommodation facilities on offer at Bwindi National Park ranging from budget camps to luxurious lodges depending on the Gorilla group that you would like to track.
At Buhoma, visitors can stay at Buhoma Community Rest Camp or Buhoma Lodge. Other accommodation facilities at Buhoma include Lake Kitandara Bwindi Camp, Silverback Lodge, Bwindi Lodge, Engagi Lodge and Gorilla Resort.
At Ruhija, visitors can choose from Ruhija Gorilla Friends Resort & Campsite,Ruhija Gorilla Resort, Trekkers Tavern cottages and Ruhija Gorillaz Mist Camp
How much does a Gorilla permit cost?
The prices of Gorilla permits in Uganda are normally fixed and vary depending on the time of the year you wish to track the Gorillaz. Peak season Gorilla permits cost 600 USD for foreign non-residents and 400 USD for foreign East African residents.
During the Off Peak season which covers the months of April, May and November; Gorilla permits cost 450 USD.
Gorillas and more
Mountain Gorilla Tracking is the major attraction in Bwindi National Park. There are seven Gorilla groups that live in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and these include;
- Mubare Group: Habituated in 1991, this group is found in the Buhoma area of the park
- Rushegura Group: This group is found in the Buhoma area
- Habiyanja Group: Habituated in 1997, this group is found in the Buhoma area
- Mishaya Group: This is is found in the Rushaga area and was originally part of the Nshongi group
- Nshongi Group: This group is found in the Rushaga region and consists of 25 gorillaz
- Nkuringo Group: This group comprised of 19 gorillas and is found in the Nkuringo area of Bwindi
- Bitukura Group: This group is found in the Ruhija area
As in Mgahinga, there are other things to see in Buhoma area of Bwindi beside the gorillas. There are a number of hiking trails in the park, but visitors must arrange a day in advance for a guide to accompany them. Three trails begin in Buhoma, including the Muyanga River Trail which is an ideal short walk for visitors with little time to spare.
Alternatively, try the Waterfall Trail, which follows the Muyanga River upstream as it tumbles down the steep slopes south-east of Buhoma, flowing through a series of waterfalls before entering the camp area.
The Rushuura Trail will afford you some fantastic views across the western Rift Valley floor with the Democratic Republic of Congo's Park National des Virungas providing a particularly spectacular back drop.
Buhoma is an ideal place from which to watch primates and birds. You'll see many monkeys along the roads, around the periphery of the park, and at the forest edge.
This is also the richest site for birds in the park, with some 190 species on record. Of particular interest are the Kiva ground thrush, white-bellied robin chat, red-throated alethe, collared apalis, short tailed warbler, yellow-eyed black fly catcher, Rwenzori Batis, blue-headed sunbird, strange weaver , and Shelley's crimsonwing.
The Mubwindi swamp in the centre of the park is a three hour hike from Ruhija. The scenic walk passes through a beautiful forest and affords fine views of Virunga volcanoes.
Popular Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Safari Packages
Gorillas tend to live in groups known as troops with a Silverback Gorilla as the head of the troop and also tasked with security duties in case of attacks from any predators. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is ideal for Gorilla Trekking with up to 4 different gorilla tracking areas which include Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga. This 4 Day Gorilla Tour is an ideal safari to get up-close with the Gorilla troops.
One of the most awesome, breathtaking experiences on earth is to observe a mountain gorilla in its natural habitat. Closely linked by DNA to humans with researchers estimating anywhere between 95-99% these charismatic herbivores can grow up to 6ft tall. This six day Gorilla tour is inclusive of a one day big 5 game drive of the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Western Uganda
Covering sections of the western part of the Great Rift Valley, this adventurous journey covers large sections of the National Parks in the western part of Uganda. This 13 day Gorilla and Wildlife Safari takes you into the heart of Uganda witnessing some of the greatest Wildlife spectacles nature has to offer. Besides viewing the Gorillas you will also be accorded the opportunity of viewing the elusive Shoebill Stork.
Short Tour Packages in Uganda
3 Days Lake Mburo NP Safari
Together with 13 other lakes in the area, Lake Mburo forms part of a 50km-long wetland system linked by a swamp. Five of these lakes lie within the park’s borders. This safari is ideal for travelers who are looking at combining a game viewing safari with a one day birding tour. Lake Mburo is located in Western Uganda and was originally gazetted as a game reserve in 1963
4 Days Queen Elizabeth NP Safari
Queen Elizabeth National Park has a variety of Flora and Fauna and it’s acknowledged to be a habitat for over 95 mammal species with about 612 species of birds. The various species in this park, has made it a unique park most liked by tourists. This safari is an ideal Big Five game viewing safari with the tree climbing Lions offering some truly amazing spectacles.
4 Days Murchison Falls NP Safari
Murchison Falls Conservation Area ( MFCA ) comprises of Murchison Falls National Park, Bugungu and Karuma Falls Wildlife Reserves. This is where the Nile explodes through a narrow gorge and cascades down to become a placid river whose banks are thronged with hippos and crocodiles, waterbucks and buffaloes. This safari includes a brief stop over at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.