Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the most visited and popular parks in Uganda as the park holds the endangered gorilla species. Bwindi Forest was gazetted in 1991 and declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994, and it lies in the southwestern part of Uganda with a size of 321 square kilometers and a height of 1,160m-2607m above sea level. This impenetrable rainforest is just on the edge of the Great Rift Valley and is spread over a series of steep ridges and valleys, and is composed of mostly montane and lowland forest making it accessible only by foot. The park is part of the Bwindi Impenetrable forest and is bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo next to the Virunga National Park in the west. Kabale town, in the south, is the nearest town to the park with a distance of about 29km by road.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park can be reached by both road and air. By road, one will have to endure approximately 8-9 hours of a road drive which however is fun and enriching as you will have an opportunity to enjoy the views and sights along the way and enough stops are made for stretching and visiting must-see en-route sites. The long drive is rewarding. If long drives are not an option for you, one can opt for scheduled charter flights from Entebbe/Kajjansi to Kisoro/Kihihi. Prior booking is however required to avail your seat since the flights get fully booked faster. Chartered companies like Aerolink, Eagle Air among others can be used.
Bwindi Impenetrable forest is a water catchment area and much of the forest’s rainfall forms streams. Bwindi national park is a source of many rivers that flow north, west and south and the five major rivers of Ivi, Munyaga, Ihihiza, Ishasha, and Ntengyere pour into Lake Edward. All the other rivers flow into Lake Mutanda and Lake Bunyonyi. For the fact that the park is a rainforest, it has a tropical climate with temperatures going as low as 7 degrees Celsius and as high as 27°C. The park receives its peak rainfall in the months of May and April and September to November, and the rest are dry months which shouldn’t be relied on as it rains just about any time given it’s a tropical rainforest. Sometimes, however, drizzles fall all throughout the day. The park can be visited all throughout the year.
The park features a diversity of species. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a habitat to 120 species of mammals, 348 bird species, 220 species of butterflies, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos among others. The park also has about 1,000 plant species including the endangered brown mahogany and the Brazzeia longipedicellata. Forest elephants can also be seen in this impenetrable forest. Bwindi impenetrable national park is a sanctuary for the colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, and its most notable and most sought after primate- the mountain gorillas. It is here that the two primates; mountain gorillas and chimpanzees can co-exist.
This impenetrable forest is a natural habitat for the endangered mountain gorillas and Bwindi forest national park itself inhabits half of the whole world’s total population, about four hundred (400) gorillas in total. It is because of Gorilla trekking that Bwindi was known to the rest of the world thereby becoming the most visited and highest revenue earning park to the Uganda Wildlife Authority. These gentle creatures are endangered because of the rampant poaching, habitat loss and diseases. It is for this reason that there are rules are regulations to be followed when visiting Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The park has habituated gorilla groups open to tourists for tracking in four different sectors of Buhoma, Nkuringo, Rushaga and Ruhijja located in the districts of Kanungu, Kabale and Kisoro. The very first group to be habituated was the Mubare gorilla group. There are 14 habituated groups in total in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park that tourists are allowed to track. Tourists are only allowed a maximum of one hour after getting to where the gorillas are and only eight visitors per day. As of the May 2018 census, the total number of mountain gorillas was put at more than 400.
The park at one time had human inhabitants, the Batwa Pygmies. These were however evicted without compensation all in the name of conservation. They are however a source of information about their origin and way of life, visiting them would be rewarding.
This Park has a number of activities that can be done when visited. From the famous gorilla trekking to chasing after butterflies, one can do so much. Bird watching, nature walks/hiking, cultural encounters, cycling/mountain biking, gorilla habituation can all be done while at Bwindi Impenetrable National park. Contact your trusted tour operator to help you put together a trip to Bwindi.