BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK.
This large primeval forest is sandwiched in south western Uganda in Kanungu district. Bwindi impenetrable national park is nestled on the edge of the Rift valley at an elevation 1,160 to 2,607 meters.
Bwindi impenetrable national park is one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rain forest which dates back over 25,000years with almost 400 plant species.
Bwindi is famously renowned for being a refuge to half the worlds mountains gorillas with an estimate of over 459 troops with some habituated groups. The gorillas have actually been habituated to human presence around them.
This biologically diverse region is also home to 120 mammals including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, antelopes and elephants and with 350 bird species recorded with 23 endemic the Albertine rift valley region.
Bwindi still hosts 200 butterfly species with 8 endemics to the Albertine rift valley and also a home to very many species.
The park is habitant to the Batwa people who have been leaving in this forest for a very long time. Opportunities abound to discover the local Bakiga and Batwa pygmy cultures through performances, workshop and village works.
Bwindi’s derives its name from a local word meaning a place of darkness and many who have experienced it say that a hike in this independent forest certainly unveils to you why the forest was given that name.
To take part in gorilla trekking you have to have a special permit and one is required to be realistically physically fit to take part in the guided trekking adventure since it involves climbing the steep terrain.
Gorilla trekking permits go for $ 500 per individual, with a permit you are granted one full hour of face to face with the earths living primates once they are located deep into the forest interior.
Multi silver backs dwell within this mystical, mist shrouded forest with new borns in some troops, each family is unique in size and dynamic.
Given the gorillas constant movement within this biologically rich rain forest from an easy two-hour journey along the forest to the half day near vertical climbing through the dense forest, blanketed in stinging nestles.
The adjacent Nkuringo and Buhoma towns a remarkable collection of mountain gorillas with luxury lodges and camps that offer accommodation facilities.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is where we find the great Bwindi Impenetrable National park home to Uganda mountain gorillas occuping an estimated 321 square kilometers (124 square miles) in the south western part of Uganda along the Uganda DRC border on the edge of the Albertine rift. The forest is known to be an old, natural, complex and biologically rich diversified habitat, The big part of Bwindi Impenetrable National park is elevated over 6600ft with Rwamunyonyi Hill being the highest and the lowest part is at the edge of the northern tip of the park. The park is comprised of the Northern block and Southern block which are both connected by a forest corridor. This ranges way back in 1932. Below is a brief history about the great Bwindi Impenetrable National park with Uganda mountain gorillas we have today.
In 1932, the forest was divided into Northern block which named Kayonza Crown Forest Reserve and the southern block which was named Kasatora Crown Forest Reserve which together formed the “Crown Forest Reserve”.
In 1942, the two blocks were merged and widened after which they were renamed “Impenetrable Central Crown Forest”
In 1964, the forest was designated as an animal sanctuary and changed name to “Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve”
In 1966, the reserve was taken as both a forest reserve as well as a game sanctuary. This was after two other reserves joined the main reserve thus increasing its area.
In 1991 along with Rwenzori Mountain reserve and Mgahinga Gorilla reserve, the Impenetrable Cental Forest Reserve was renamed “Bwindi Impenetrable National park”. This was because of its richness in bio diversity and a threat it posed to the integrity of the forest reserve.
Gorilla tracking became a tourist activity in April 1993 and in 1994, UNESCO engrossed Bwindi Impenetrable National park on the world heritage list due to its ecological importance.
The Rich Bio-Diversity of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National park is in no doubt famous for its mountain gorillas. The park in boasts over 400 Bwindi Uganda Mountain gorillas in which arguably make half of the world’s population of the endangered mountain gorillas. These gorillas are classified into 14 habituated mountain gorilla groups and they are found in four sectors of the forest. These sectors are Buhoma sector in Kanungu district, Ruhija sector in Kabale district, Rushoga and Nkuringo are both found in Kisoro district. Bwindi Impenetrable National park is also a habitat for 120 mammals species of which 10 are primates, 348 birds species, 27 frog species, 220 butterfly species , geckos, chameleons and many other endangered species. The park also boasts over 1000 flowering plant species with 163 and 104 of these being trees and ferns species respectively with morethan 50% of Uganda’s tree species found here. The park is a sanctuary for colobus monkeys, chimpanzees and many different kinds of birds. The forest in which the park is located is also a source of many rivers flowing to the north, south and west for example R.Munyaga, R,Ishasha and R.Ntengyere which all flow and pour into Lake Edward. Additionally, the park has a tropical climate with peak rainfall in months of March, April, September, October and November as well as temperatures of 7 degrees to 15 degrees minimum and 20 degrees to 27 degrees maximum.
The Community around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The classification of the park had a big impact on the Batwa people who were the original inhabitants of the forest. These people were evicted from the forest and they were restricted access to it and its resources. The areas around the park are densely populated with an estimated 300 people per square kilometer. Cultivation in this area is intense and majority of the people around the park depend mostly on subsistence farming as a ways of earning some income for their households. Gorilla tracking is the main tourist attraction in the park where a person needs to first obtain a gorilla permit inorder to carrout the tracking. Poaching, diseases and habitat loss are the greatest threats to these great mountain gorillas.
Accessing Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Accessing the park is both by air and road. By Road from Kampala the capital of Uganda is a 6-8 hours drive with a route through Kampala to Mbarara and then converging to Butogota, a mere 17 kilometers from the Buhoma entrance gate. Bwindi can also be accessed from Queen Elizabeth National Park to the north through Ishasha sector, which is a 2-3 hours drive or from Kabale town to the south, just a 1-2 hours’ drive. Bwindi can also be accessed by Air flying from Kampala, Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airfield, to
the modern tarmac airstrip at Kisoro. Planes can too be chartered to the grass at Kayonza or Savannah airstrips. The park has three airfields; at Kayonza and Kihiihi, for those going to track in the northern sector, and Nyakabande, in Kisoro, for those going to track gorillas in the southern sectors.
Accommodation facilities at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
In the four sectors that make up Bwindi Impenetrable National park, there are different accommodation facilities ranging from budget and midrange to luxury accommodation. These facilities/ lodges are listed below according to the sector:
Buhoma lodge, Lake Kitandara Bwindi Camp, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Silverback Lodge, Volcanoes Safaris Bwindi Lodge, The Gorilla Resort, Mahogany Springs Lodge, and Buhoma Community Rest Camp
Nshongi Camp, Gorilla Valley Lodge, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, and Gorilla Safari Lodge
Bakiga Lodge, Gorilla Mist Camp, Gift of Nature Lodge, Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge, Broadbill Forest Camp, Ruhija Gorilla Friends Resort & Campsite, and Trekkers Tavern Lodge
Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Mutanda Lake Resort, Wagtail Eco Safari Camp, and Bwindi Backpackers Lodge
Main Activities to do at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
- Gorilla tracking
- Nature walks
- Bird watching
- Mountain hiking
Featured Safaris to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
- 3 Days Gorilla trekking to Bwindi
- 5 Days Bwindi Gorilla tracking
- 5 Days Uganda Gorilla and Wildlife safari
- 9 Days Uganda Gorillas and Chimpanzee safari