Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Gorilla tracking in Uganda.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park a home to the rare endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda, is strategically located at the edge of the western rift valley (Albertine rift valley), in South Western Uganda. It is shared amoungest Rukungiri, Kisoro and Kabale Districts.
Bwindi impenetable rainforest –is among those few in Africa that has flourished through out the last Ice Age covering around 331 square kilometers with an Altitude Range that goes from 1160 meters in Ishasha gorge up to 2607 meters at Rwamanyonyi Peak. Having an annual average temperature Range of 7-20 degrees Celsius with its coldest period being June and July and experiencing its heaviest rains during March-April and September – November, Other months are usually dry.
The gigantic rain forest homes to over a half of the world’s mountain gorillas thus it is the major Uganda Gorilla safari destination to visit the endangered mountain gorillas. A deeper look into the inviting beautiful brown eyes of these gentle shy mountain gorillas on Uganda is unarguably the most exciting memorable Uganda wildlife tour encounter that Uganda and Africa at large have to offer coupled with Bwindi’s broad biodiversity that gives support to the Eco-Tourism industry as well.
With an altitude range of 1,160 to 2,607m, the national park boasts of 90 mammal species, including 11 primates, wit the black-and-white Colobus, which is prominent for its beautiful flowing white tail to show which makes it a flourishing Uganda wildlife safari destination as well.
Bwindi with its 23 highly localized Albertine Rift endemics present,, the forest ranks as one of the best birding tour/ birding safari destination in Uganda.
Annual Precipitation: 1130 mm – 2390 mm
Coldest months/ period: June-July
Major tribes; the Bakiga; the Bafumbira with a few maginalised Batwa form the densest settlements in Uganda to the tune of 233 people/ square kilometers.
SPECIAL SPECIES DIVERSITY OF ATTRACTIONS;
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park habitates over 400 endangered gorillas which is about half the total population of mountain gorillas the world has, it has over 30 elephants and 120 species of mammals which include 7 diurnal primates. with 360 species of birds and 200 butterfly species,the Afro-montane rain forest has a dense under store of ferns, vines, and shrubs, and over 324 tree species recorded there, of which 10 don’t appear else where in Uganda making Bwindi a must trek to any enthusiastic tourist or traveller.
Having 400 Mountain Gorillas, gorilla trekking tours & safaris form the major tourist activity/attraction in Bwindi. On daily basis two gorilla groups are usually available for tourists to visit.The Mubare group compraising of 16 gorillas with1 Silver back, this group was officially opened for tourism in 1993.The other group being the Habinyanja group which compraises of 23 gorillas with 2 silver backs and was readily opened in July 1998. The last and third group of gorillas compraising of 17 gorillas with 2 silver back, is yet to be open for tourism.
-All gorilla tracking permits are sold by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) at the Headquarters in Kampala with only 8 gorilla permits per day being sold for each of the 2 Gorilla groups. Advance booking- at least 3 months in advance is recommended to prevent missing out.
– The Gorilla tracking activity starts at 8:30 am local time and lasts the whole day.
-Gorillas are supposed to be met for only an hour once they have been tracked.
– The Gorilla Tracking activity in Bwindi is tedious in this regard tourists are therefore urged to be physically fit and carry jungle boots and rain jacketsalong with them because the forest is always wet.
The Bird watching safaris;
As noted earlier, Bwindi is the best birding safari tour destination its a sanctuary to over 348 bird species that are impossible or hard to see in any many other part East African regions.
Amoung others, special on its list are; the honey guide,the Wing, White-tailed Blue Monarch Short-tailed Warbler,kivi ground thrush, Wilcock’s, Rusty-faced woodland Gruel’s Rush Warbler, Yellow-eyed black Fly-catcher, Warbler, Bar-tailed Trogon and Dusky Crimson An enthusioustic bird watcher can be able to identify as many as 100 species daily.
The Nature Walks;
Visitor with two or more days in Bwindi impenetrable national park, can ably engage in a hiking tour along the four outland hiking trails that are famously done in the park. On all these trails, you will ably experience and get a educated about the various bird species, the primates, butterflies,the trees as well as the other members of this Eco system.Its advisable that you arrange for a guide’s services and company from the reception for your safety and to attain an excellent understanding of the park’s entire Eco system.
The river Munyanga walk;
A short walk for visitors with little time to spare along the forest edge offers tourist a memorable sight of birds as well as primates.This famous waterfall walk gives an attractive feature of the forest with a colourful array of butterflies, a natural fusion of tree ferns, epithetic ferns, orchids and colorful which is typical of Bwindi impenetrable forest. The walk leads to 3 attractive crystal clear waterfalls which is a typical ingredient of a tropical rain forest.
The Rushurra walk, gives an extensive view across the western rift valley floor, and to its west, the Congo Parc Nationale Des Virungas providing a wonderful view, and is also visible to both Lake Edward and Rwenzori Mountain as well. The Muzabajirro walk provides an un forgetable view of Bwindi Forest, the Western Rift Valley and the Virungas. Various pre-historic tree ferns can be witnessed as you make your way to the top, which is a great place for a picnic or lunch.
The ivy river walk:
Mostly recommended for bird viewing for bird watchers,is the longest in the park and will take you a full day. Buhoma village walk, offers tourists eye catching views like those of a typical Ugandan rural homestead setting in this region, a visit to the local traditional healers, the banana beer brewing demonstration site, captivating tradtional cultural performance in the evenings which are usually performed by Women groups provide the opportunity to experience the traditional dressing fashions as well. This walk that takes over three hours,is an activity that is managed by the local community thus money received is invested back into the community to improve on their general welfare usually. Visitors may as well walk to the Bamboo zone which is a unique area in Bwindi impenetrable national park.
The Bamboo trail walk;
This leads to one of the areas of high diversity in the park that offers 14 vegetation types . At the pick of this walk, you will be presented with unforgetable views some of which include the L. Bunyonyi and Mafuga forest.
Where to get accomodation and meals:
A wide range of accomodation choices is availed to tourists according to which part of Bwindi one is located and how much one budgeted to spend.These include;.
– A luxury-tented accommodation run by Abercrombie and Kent
– A medium range accommodation homestead run by African Pearl Safari
– A well furnished luxury tented accommodation run by Mantana luxury tented camp.
– A Local community run Rest camp with clean and simple Bandas having a restaurant serving simple traditional foods-breakfast, lunch and dinner. Other camps include; Volcano Bwindi camp, Lake Kitandara Bwindi camp and Gorilla forest camp.Please note that you can bring your own tent as well.
– Available is a self catering Guesthouse at Ruhija in the east of the park. It is booked in advance through Great Lakes Safaris.
– At Kahihi, the Savanna Resort Hotel located there about 40 kms to Buhoma and is adjacent to Ishasha sector, of Queen Elizabeth National Park.
How to get there and its exite routes;
Bwindi is accessed using several routes all converging near Butogota
-From Kabale is a 108km drive to Buhoma via Ruhija that takes about 3hr but a bit longer if it rains and 4wd ve-hicles are highly recommended.
-From Kampala to Buhoma, the best route is the surfaced road to Kabale up to Ntungamo about 60km from Mbarara.From Ntungamo a right turn for 45km leads to Rukungiri, from here through Kambuga to Kanungu finally connects to Butogota 17km to Buhoma Park Headquarters. The whole journey distance of 534 kms, takes 9-11 hours. An early mornning start for the jouney is recommended as well as the use of a 4WD vehicle.
– From Kasese/Fort Portal there are two routes:one via Katunguru,Ishasha and Kahihi taking 3-5hrs.The other route follows the Mbarara road as far as Ishaka, 33km from here to Kagambe on Kabale road at the junction with the Ntungamo-Rukungiri from here further directions to buhoma are as given above.