Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is situated in the southwestern part of Uganda, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo. It covers a total area of 321 square kilometres and spans the districts of Kisoro and Kanungu. The park is located at the edge of the Albertine Rift and is composed of both montane and lowland forests. With an estimated age of more than 25,000 years old, it is believed to be one of the oldest forests in Africa. In 1991, Bwindi was established as a National Park and was declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994. The park is home to over 400 species of plant life and is a habitat for a variety of animals, including primates such as gorillas, chimpanzees, baboons, forest elephants, and antelopes. The park is also the source of five major rivers that flow into Lake Edward, and it spreads over a series of steep ridges and valleys.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park boasts over 348 bird species, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics. The park is home to more than 400 gorillas, which is over half of the global gorilla population, with 19 habituated groups available for visitors to track. This activity is only available in Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo. The park’s elevations range from 1,190 to 2,607 metres (3,904 to 8,553 ft) above sea level, with the highest point being Rwamunyonyi Hill. The indigenous Batwa community, a group of pygmies who lived in the forest as hunters and fruit gatherers and used it for medicine, are believed to have resided in the forest for generations. When the park was declared a national heritage site, they were relocated out of the forest to the forest’s edges, where they have lived ever since.
Trek Africa Tours offers a range of tours to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for gorilla trekking, catering to different budget levels from budget to mid-range and luxury trips. We have popular tours that you can select from to visit the National Park, and we also highly prioritize customization to suit our clients’ preferences. If you have specific interests, budget, or time constraints, please don’t hesitate to contact us, and we will tailor a tour that best suits your needs.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park offers a range of activities and sights beyond the world-renowned gorilla trekking experience. While gorilla trekking is undoubtedly the park’s main attraction, visitors can also opt for the unique gorilla habituation experience, a one-of-a-kind opportunity only available in this park in Africa.
In addition to gorilla-related activities, visitors can also explore the park’s diverse vegetation, which includes both montane and lowland forests, and observe the park’s impressive array of bird species. For those interested in cultural experiences, the park also offers opportunities to interact with the Batwa community, the indigenous pygmy people who once lived in the forest.
With so much to see and do, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a must-visit destination for nature and wildlife enthusiasts, offering a truly unforgettable experience in the heart of Africa.
Gorilla trekking is a thrilling adventure that involves hiking and walking through the dense forest of Bwindi in search of the endangered mountain gorillas. The process typically begins with an early morning briefing at the park headquarters, where you will be introduced to the rules and guidelines for the trek. You will then embark on a hike or walk into the forest, following the trail used by mountain gorillas, accompanied by an experienced guide.
The trek can take anywhere from 1 to 8 hours depending on the location of the gorillas, and once found, visitors are allowed to spend only one hour with them. This is done to minimize any disturbance to the gorillas and to ensure their safety. During the hour, you can observe the gorillas in their natural habitat, take photos, and even make eye contact with them. It’s an unforgettable experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Upon returning to the park headquarters, you will be presented with a certificate to commemorate your trek. Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Forest National Park is an opportunity to experience these magnificent creatures up close and personal, while also contributing to their conservation efforts.
To ensure a successful gorilla trekking experience in Bwindi Forest National Park, it’s necessary to obtain a valid gorilla permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority for your desired trekking date. The cost of permits is USD700 for Foreign Non-Residents, USD600 for Foreign Residents, and Uganda shillings 250,000 for East African citizens. On the day of the trek, you’ll attend a briefing at the Park Headquarters on the regulations to follow while in the forest and with the gorillas. Accompanied by experienced guides and park rangers, you’ll embark on a journey through the dense rainforest on the mountain slopes. Although the trek may be challenging, the reward is a lifetime experience of viewing mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. You’ll be allowed to spend one hour with the gorillas and witness their daily activities from a close range of 7-5 meters. After the trek, you’ll receive a certificate to mark your successful gorilla trekking experience.
Bwindi Forest National Park is the only place in the world where you can experience gorilla habituation. This incredible experience is similar to the normal gorilla trekking activity, where you will hike through the forest in search of semi-habituated mountain gorillas. Once you find them, you will have the opportunity to spend an extended four hours with these magnificent creatures. This experience allows you to visit gorilla groups that are not yet fully habituated, and you will be able to participate in the process of getting them used to the presence of humans, which usually takes 2-3 years. To secure a gorilla habituation permit, you need to pay USD1500, and you will be allowed to spend four hours with the mountain gorillas. However, only four individuals are permitted to visit these gorillas in Bwindi National Park.
Bwindi Forest National Park is a birder’s paradise with over 350 bird species to spot. The must-do activity for bird enthusiasts is a visit to Mubwindi Swamp, which offers the best birding experience in the park. The 4km trail to the swamp is a great place to find some of the most elusive of all rift endemics, including the stunning Regal Sunbird, Archer’s Robin-Chat, and Grauer’s (African Green) Broadbill. Other notable species that can be spotted in the area include the rare Dwarf Honeyguide, Stripe-breasted Tit, Ruwenzori Apalis, Grauer’s Scrub-Warbler, and African Hill Babbler. Bird watchers can also look out for Black Goshawk, Augur Buzzard, Crowned Hawk-Eagle, Handsome Francolin, Olive (Rameron) Pigeon, Bronze-winged Pigeon, Black-billed, Ruwenzori, and Ross’s Turacco, African, Barred Long-tailed, and African Emerald Cuckoos, African Broadbill, Rock Martin, Black Saw-wing, Gray and Petit’s Cuckoo-Shrike, Ansorge’s, Kakamega and Cabanis’ Greenbuls, White-tailed Ant-Thrush, Kivu Ground-Thrush, Olive and Mountain Thrushes, Red-throated Alethe, Chubb’s Cisticola, Banded Prinia, Ruwenzori, Black-throated, and Black-faced Apalis, Olive-green Camaroptera, Grauer’s Warbler, Cinnamon and Black-faced Bracken-Warblers, Mountain Yellow Warbler, White-browed Crombec, Short-tailed Warbler, Red-faced Woodland-Warbler, White-eyed Slaty-Flycatcher, Yellow-eyed Black-Flycatcher, Sooty Flycatcher, Chapin’s Flycatcher, White-starred Robin, White-bellied and Archer’s Robin-Chats, Ruwenzori Batis, White-tailed, and African Blue-Flycatchers, Pale-breasted, Mountain, and Gray-chested Illadopses, Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Gray-headed, Western Violet-backed, Green, Green-headed, Blue-headed, Green-throated, Stuhlmann’s, Northern Double-collared, and Regal Sunbirds, Mackinnon’s Shrike, Ludher’s, Gray-green, Many-colored, and Lagden’s Bush-shrikes, Velvet-mantled Drongo, Slender-billed, Waller’s, Narrow-tailed, Stuhlmann’s,Red-chested Owlet, Narina and Bar-tailed Trogons, Black and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters, Blue-throated Roller, White-headed Woodhoopoe, Gray-throated, Double-toothed, and Yellow-spotted Barbets, Western and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Thick-billed and Dwarf Honeyguides, Rufous-necked Wryneck, Tullberg’s, Speckle-breasted, Elliot’s, and Olive Woodpeckers and Sharpe’s Starlings, Black-billed, Strange, and Brown-capped Weavers, Jameson’s and Woodhouse’s Ant-peckers, and Red-faced and Dusky Crimson-wings. Donations to conservation efforts and supporting local communities by purchasing souvenirs and making contributions to children and women’s groups are much appreciated.
Bwindi Forest National Park offers a variety of guided nature walks for visitors, established by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. These walks can be scheduled at any time of the day to accommodate the visitors’ time constraints. During the walks, you will have the opportunity to explore the diverse tree species, observe forest birds, and traverse through swamps. Knowledgeable guides will take you through various tracks, ensuring a thrilling and informative experience.
As a highlight of your gorilla safari in Uganda, experiencing the unique Batwa culture is a must. Bwindi Forest used to be home to the Batwa Pygmies, who were evacuated as a conservation measure to protect the endangered apes and primates. The Batwa Cultural Trail offers a glimpse into their traditional forest life, including their dance, unique way of life, and the food they eat. During the trail, the Batwa lead visitors into the forest to demonstrate their traditional practices such as hunting, fruit gathering, collecting honey, and performing rituals.
These Batwa trails are organized to support the livelihoods of the communities around the park by paying a fee. Donations to children and women’s groups are appreciated, and purchasing souvenirs also supports the community. The Batwa Cultural Trail is an opportunity to learn about and appreciate the rich cultural heritage of the Batwa people while contributing to the conservation of the forest and the communities around the park.
For many years, the Batwa people, commonly referred to as pygmies, lived in the Bwindi Forest National Park. However, in recent times, they were relocated to surrounding communities to ease mountain gorilla conservation and tourism. A road trip from Kigali to Bwindi Forest National Park offers a chance to experience the unique culture of the Batwa people. You will see where they used to live in the forest, how they harvested wild honey and hunted for food. They will also showcase their traditional dances and explain how they have adapted to life outside the forest.
Apart from the Batwa people, you can also visit other communities in the outskirts of the forest. There are women’s groups that create crafts and sell food, and community schools that you can visit. If you are feeling generous, you can donate clothes and academic materials to support the children. These encounters provide a unique opportunity to experience and appreciate the diverse cultures of the region.
Bwindi Forest National Park is conveniently accessible from Kigali in Rwanda, just a 4-5 hour drive through the Chanika or Katuna border between Uganda and Rwanda. Your journey from Kigali can begin with a city tour of Kigali before crossing into Kisoro district in Uganda for lunch and overnight stay.
If you are coming from Entebbe/Kampala, you can take the Kampala-Mbarara-Kisoro highway which is approximately a 9-10 hour drive to the park. Alternatively, you can opt to fly from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip, with a flight duration of about 2 hours into Kisoro Airstrip. Aerolink Uganda operates scheduled flights daily, and other flight companies offer charter flights as well. Upon arrival, you can take a road transfer from Kihihi or Kisoro to access Bwindi Forest National Park.
Bwindi Forest National Park offers various accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. Budget-friendly options include Rushaga Gorilla Havens Lodge, Trekkers Tavern Cottages, Ride 4 a woman, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, and Buhoma Camp Lodge, with prices ranging from 90-100 dollars per person per night. For mid-range options, you can choose from Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Icumbi Lodge, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, Buhoma Havens Lodge, and others, with prices ranging from 100-200 dollars per person per night. If you prefer luxury, you can stay at Buhoma Lodge, Bwindi Lodge, Gorilla Sanctuary Camp, Four Gorillas Lodge, Mahogany Springs, Engagi Lodge, and others, with prices ranging from 200-400 dollars per person per night.
Trek Africa Tours offers exceptional experiences in Bwindi Forest National Park and other destinations in Uganda and East Africa. We provide discounted packages and tailor-made trips to meet your needs. Our team consists of a blend of energetic young staff and experienced, passionate Ugandan managers and directors who have a deep understanding of the region. Trek Africa Tours has a top rating and positive reviews on Trip Advisor and Safari Bookings, allowing you to learn from the experiences of other travelers who have journeyed with us. Choose Trek Africa Tours for an unforgettable Bwindi Forest National Park experience.