Bwindi national park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley, a proud home of the world’s most endangered primates, the Mountain Gorillas, with a population of about 500-roughly half of the world’s total population. This park is one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforest. It was gazetted in 1991 and the fast tourist visited it in 1993 after the successful habituation of the first ever gorilla family in Buhoma region.
Bwindi has since grown to become a darling to many travelers around the globe, who would like to come and have a glance at the world’s most endangered primate. In 1932 Bwindi forest was gazetted as Crown Forest reserve which covered a land area of about 298km2. In 1964 it was turned into a wildlife sanctuary meant to protect and conserve the mountain gorillas.
However, in 1991 areas covering Rwenzori Mountain Reserve, The impenetrable Central Reserve and the Mgahinga Gorilla Reserve were incorporated into Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to form one big conservation area. The locals around call it “Mubwindi Bwa Nyinamuraki”. It was later declared a UNESCO world Heritage Site in 1994 in respect of its diverse culture and wildlife. The park now covers a total area of 331sq km.
This famous “impenetrable forest” is biologically diverse and protects over 400 species of plants, 120 mammals including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzee as well as elephants and buffaloes. There are around 350 species of birds sheltered in this fascinating forest including 23 Albertine Rift endemics.
Bwindi impenetrable National Park is divided into four sectors, namely;
Buhoma sector. This is located in the northern part of Bwindi and was the first sector where a gorilla family was first habituated in 1993. It happens to be that this sector stands out as the most visited all year round because it is easily accessible from Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth N/Park and has popular lodges and campsites.
It has four gorilla families namely Mubare family, Habinyanja family, Rushegura and Katwe gorilla families. Accommodations here include, Buhoma lodge, Gorilla Forest Camp, Silverback lodge, Engagi lodge, Bwindi lodge among others.
Ruhija sector. Ruhija is located in the eastern side of the Park, and it is easily accessible from either Kabale, Kisoro or Buhoma. This sector has three Gorilla families namely Bitukura, Oruzogo gorilla family and Kyaguriro gorilla family. Accommodation facilities here include Ruhija gorilla safari lodge, trekkers’ tavern cottages, gift of nature lodge, Ruhija gorilla resort among others.
Rushaga sector. Rushaga is located on the southern tip of Bwindi in Kisoro district. It is home to the biggest number of gorilla families in Bwindi. These include; Nshongi, Mishaya, Kahungye, Busingye and Bweza gorilla groups. Accommodation facilities here include, Gorilla Valley Lodge, Rushaga gorilla camp, Rushaga gorilla safari lodge among others.
Nkuringo sector. This is located in the southern part of the park with only two gorilla families, namely, Nkuringo gorilla family with 19 members and it is the most exciting group to visit, as well as the newly opened Christmas family. Accommodations in Nkuringo include Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Clouds Mountain gorilla Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge among others. Bwindi national park is a place of adventure, relaxation and nature / eco-friendly experiences.
Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi National Park
Trekking the endangered mountain gorillas is done in 4 sectors of Bwindi as shown above. This activity is extremely fun and adventure parked, exciting and adventurous wilderness activity you can do while in Uganda and in this park particularly, as well as Mgahinga gorilla national park.
Gorilla trekking is done in groups of not more than eight persons allocated to track each gorilla family, and begins at 7:00am every day. During a gorilla trek, you will follow the footprints of mighty mountain gorillas, explore the forests until you meet the family led by the dominant male, Silverback.
Alternatively, Bwindi national park offers an unforgettable chance to do gorilla habituation experience. Other than the usual gorilla trekking which allows one to be with a family for one hour, habituation experience allows trekkers to stay with a specific gorilla family for up to 4 hours.
Birding in Bwindi Forest National Park
There are approximately 350 species of birds hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift valley endemic (90% of Albertine rift valley endemics) such as the Short-tailed Warbler and Blue-headed Sunbird. Common sightings include the African Blue and White-tailed Blue Flycatchers, African Emerald Cuckoo, Common Bulbul and Red-headed Bluebill. Birding takes place along the main trail, Buhoma Waterfalls, Rushaga, Ruhija trails and in Nkuringo sector.
Explore the culture of local comminutes for Bakiga & Batwa pygmies on village walks, blacksmith visits, craft shops and vibrant dances –all against the astounding backdrop of the forest-covered hills of Bwindi.
There are six nature trails in Buhoma for those who wish to explore the impenetrable forest. These include Munyanga waterfall, Rushura hill walk, Muzubijiro loop, the Buhoma-Nkuringo trail, the Ivy river walk (means the place of pigs – where wild pigs can be found). This will give you a chance to see a number of bird species such as the Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Black Duck and Black Bee Eaters, among others, also primates such baboons and red tailed monkeys among others.
Mountain biking follows a well-maintained trail from the park headquarters at Buhoma to the Ivy River. Along this 13km trail you may see wildlife such as bushbucks, black-and-white colobus and red-tailed monkeys.
This is a 6 to 7 hour trip the leaves in the morning under “Ride for a Woman community development initiative”, organized by Buhoma Community Rest Camp. Bwindi impenetrable national park is interesting park which you should visit before you leave planet earth, it’s a place which can live you with spoilt choices in the pearl of Africa. Come and penetrate the impenetrable.