The Chronicles of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is Uganda’s foremost tourist attraction and indeed one of the world’s most remarkable wildlife encounters is tracking mountain gorillas across the misty slopes of Bwindi Forest of southwestern Uganda. These magnificent apes are both rare and endangered with their total number less than 800 animals divided between the forest of Bwindi and the nearby Virunga volcanoes. With 15 habituated groups for tourism, the impenetrable forest is the world’s primary mountain gorilla tracking Destination.
Located in the heart of Virunga Massif, the thought of encountering the largest apes here is exciting and rather intimidating as you defy nature’s limitations of venturing into this surrounding in the Jungle on an adventure to discover the wonders of the natural world of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is situated along the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley and north of the Virunga Volcanoes with Rwanda.
Embrace maximalism on the slopes of the hills of Bwindi massif with its swath of steep mountains covered in thick steamy jungle, it is just as magnificent, magical and otherworldly about this forest as the wind braces with anticipation and exciting building on when you will look into the silverback’s eyes. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of Africa’s most ancient habitats, that survived the last Ice Age as most of the continent’s other forests disappeared and the only place where chimpanzees and gorillas coexist in the same park alongside forest elephants rare birds not found elsewhere. With over 400 Gorillas thriving due to the sound conservation practices, the forest is a hidden pearl in Uganda awaiting to be discovered by you on your magical Gorilla Trekking encounter alongside the amazing scenery of the Virunga massif, the Rwenzori backdrop, views of Lake Albert, plants, wildlife, birds, primates.
A Gorilla Trek is one of the most thrilling a traveler can experience on a jungle adventure, with the trek beginning once you reach the gorillas’ previous location. Tracking gorillas takes time, patience and good knowledge of the forests and ways of the mountain gorillas. Mountain Gorillas are simply captivating, and many are often at a loss of words when they find themselves finally standing just a few meters away from them with just an hour to enjoy the truly magical moment that will forever be ingrained in your mind and can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world.
Wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Considering the biodiversity of the vegetation in the park, it provides a great habitat for the animals and birds that call Bwindi home. With 120 species of mammals including Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Black and White Colobus, Red-Tailed Guenon, Vervet Monkeys, L’Hoest’s Guenon, Baboons, Nocturnal Prosimians, Forest Elephants, Duikers, Bush pigs, Giant Forest Hogs, several small species of Cats alongside 360 species of birds and over 200 species of butterflies.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has a variety of wildlife inhabiting it though most importantly are the endangered impressive Mountain Gorillas that can only be seen in Africa in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda with 1000 Mountain Gorillas remaining in the world and half of them inhabiting Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
The forest has an impressive number of habituated gorilla families located in different sections of the Park, with 3 gorilla families in Buhoma(Mubare, Habinyanja and Rushegura), in Ruhija(Oruzogo, Bitukura and Kyaguriro), Nkuringo has one gorilla family known as Nkuringo and Rushaga(Mishaya, Nshongi, Busingye, Bweza and Kahungye).
Vegetation in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is among the very few tropical rain forests in East Africa with the lowland and montane vegetation zones meeting together. Bwindi was able to protect the jungle during the ice age and served as a water tower for most of the wildlife species that relied on the forest unlike other areas that didn’t have any forest or vegetation cover.
Bwindi has numerous vegetation types that are widely categorized into Medium altitude, Moist ever green and the Afro montane forest highly limited vegetation category in Africa. The park is covered by mixed forest which is concentrated around its altitudes characterized by canopy from plant species like Red stinkwood, Newtonia, Symphonia globulifera, East African yellow wood and Strombosia scheffleri. Beneath the main forest there are species like Xymalos, Neoboutonia Macrocalyx, Monospora, Myrianthus holstii, Teclea nobilis and Allophylus abyssinicus.
The vegetation diversity provides large feeding area for the mountain gorillas, forest elephants and other ground dependent wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The forest elephants have also been attributed for creation and maintenance of the open places within the jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest as they are attracted to the existent swampy areas within the jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest during the dry season.
The forest is renowned for its water catchment place supporting agricultural practices especially for adjacent local communities as well as the major source for several rivers like Ivi, Munyaga, Ihihizo Ishasha and Ntengyere that drain into Lake Edward with rivers Ndego, Kanyamwabo and Shongi flowing southwards to Lake Mutanda.The park is also popularly credited for its 400 plant species and intense wildlife diversity composed of an abundant ferns, colorful orchids, epithetic ferns, lush fogy rainforests alongside an intense variety of bird species, wildlife and butterflies.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is more than interacting with mountain gorillas but also a chance to enjoy abundant wildlife right from flora to fauna that are still unexploited. Considering the various vegetation types that are defined by their altitudes offering a unique biodiversity.
Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has the most amazing biodiversity, plant species that can’t be found in any park with various animal species, butterflies, birds and not forgetting the endangered Mountain Gorillas that are the biggest attraction of travelers to this park. Below are some of the activities you can choose to engage in on your visit to the park.
Bwindi Forest is mostly frequented for Gorilla Trekking and the main reason that most visitors come to this park as it provides an incredible backdrop for this once in a lifetime adventure. There are four trailheads from which one tracks one of the gorilla families that have been habituated for visitors.
Gorilla Habituation Experience
This experience can only be encountered in Uganda in the Rushaga area of the Park, where that you will spend 4 hours with the Mountain Gorilla Family with fewer participants-4 people.
There are presently two family groups being habituated, meaning that they becoming used to human contact and will not run away from visitors trekking them.
Batwa Community Visit
The Batwa People are the pygmies who were the first inhabitants of the forest for years as hunter-gatherers. The Batwa Experience in the Buhoma area and the Buniga Forest Walk, near Southern Bwindi, give you a glimpse into the lives and traditions of the Batwa as you help restore their dignity and keep their cultural practices alive.
Hiking through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Hiking through the forest is with a guide and can be done from Nkuringo to Buhoma or vise versa and is famous with who choose to trek gorillas twice, once in Buhoma and once in the South of the Park.
Birding in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of Africa’s number one Birding Site with many species endemic to the forest. As one of the prime birding destinations in Africa, it is home to over 347 species of forest birds recorded in the Park, at least 70 out of 78 montane forest bird species occurring in the Albertine Rift region are found in the forest, and 22 of the 36 endemic species in the region.
Mountain Bike Rides
Opt for a fascinating village walk on a bike with a well trained guide where you will ride into the Forest such as the Ivy River Trail. The average Bike Ride is 3 hours or longer in length with much to see along the trail or road.
Conduct a 3-hour cultural walk through the village as you learn their ways of life and cultures of the people, you will be accompanied by a local guide who is knowledgeable about local culture and customs.
Best time of the year to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Uganda is known as a whole round travel destination to any tourist planning to travel due to its climate, location to the equator and Lake Victoria and its unique weather patterns to the climate. Uganda mainly has two rainy seasons; from October to November and the long rainy season starts from Mid-march to the end of May.
The best time to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for the gorillas is June, July, August or September, January and February when the roads and the trials in the park are less slippery and passable.
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one one of the most scenic wildlife parks in Uganda, home to half of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world- it a very frequented park by travelers from all around the world. The park can be accessed by air for the luxury travelers who don’t want to spend a lot of time on the road and by road for the travelers that want to appreciate the scenic attractions as you drive through the different locations.
- Kampala to Kabale to Kanungu to Buhoma.
The drive from Kampala to Kabale lasts 8 hours where you will connect through Kanungu to Buhoma for about 5-6 hours.
- Kampala to Ntungamo to Rukungiri to Kihihi to Buhoma.
This route is the easiest, direct and most convenient route is from Kampala direct to the tarmac road Rukungiri and has about 390km to Buhoma.
- Kampala to Kabale to Ruhija to Buhoma.
After the 8 hours drive from Kampala, this route covers an area of about 95 km 2 on the murram road lasting about 3-4 hours.
- Kampala to Kabale to Nkuringo.
This route covers a distance of about 105 km from Kabale town lasting about 4 hours to get to the mountainous murram road and another 120 km lasting about 4 hours to Nkuringo.
- From Queen Elizabeth National Park (Mweya) to Ishasha to Kihihi to Buhoma.
This route covers an area of about 160 km from Mweya and another 64 km from Ishasha to Buhoma through Kihihi
Some travelers can choose to fly to cut the time they spend the on the road or because they have less travel days. A scheduled flight can be booked with Aerolink from Entebbe International Airport or from Kampala at Kajjansi airfield to the airstrips in Kisoro if you are tracking the southern sector or Kihiihi and Kayonza for travellers tracking for the northern area
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a home to tremendous mountain gorillas that inhabit the biodiversity of this beautiful forest with its slopes stretching over a broad altitudinal range creating habitats for the mountain gorillas and other animals to freely roam through.
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