Though it’s one of Uganda’s smallest park, Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park brags about its identity as a world class tourist destination, sought after by travellers and other African holiday makers because of its prestigious heritage. The national park is located in the southwestern part of the country, at the edge of the Rift Valley and covers an area of over 321Km2.
Bwindi was gazetted a national park in 1991 after being elevated from a Forest Reserve; a status it had gained in 1942. UNESCO recognized Bwindi Impenetrable forest a World Heritage Site in 1994, popular for harboring the Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees; the two Great Apes of Africa listed as endangered in the IUCN Red Data book.
At its size, the park is home to more than 400 Gorillas, a total accounting to nearly half of the world’s total population. Bwindi impenetrable forest is notable for its tangled vegetation, draped over a deeply fissured landscape of absolute slippery valleys and high-draughty ridges offering exquisite adventure to gorilla trackers. It has an ever chilly weather and bewildering terrain which offers unrivalled ambience and composure for visitors seeking to meet these interesting species.
Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park’s altitudinal range is between 1160- 2607 meters above sea level with an annual average temperature range of 70-200C, the coldest period being June and July. The forest is usually cold especially in the morning and during the nights, and receives up to 2390mm of rainfall annually; as a result, warm clothing and wet-weather gear is required.
There are two Mountain Gorilla groups worldwide, with Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park protecting the first group and the second inhabiting the Virunga Chain; a conservation area that spreads across three (3) countries and the subsequent areas being protected as national parks. The first group of the Gorillas to become available for tracking by visitors in Bwindi Impenetrable was the Mubare family in April 1993 and Bwindi now has over 14 Gorilla families habituated for tracking by visitors with one group/family available for research purposes. The tracking experience ranks as one of the world’s premier wildlife encounters.
Flora in Bwindi
With its mist sheltered ranges, Bwindi Impenetrable forest is the oldest and most biologically diverse rainforest. Bwindi supports an incredible biodiversity as a result of three key factors; its slopes extend over a broad altitude of 1,447 meters to create habitats ranging from Lowland forests at 1,160 meters to rare Afro-montane vegetation above 2,600 meters, it is also extremely old believed to have survived during arid conditions of ice age and its part of the exceptionally rich Albertine Rift region.
The Park’s eco-diversity ranges from its alluring evergreen vegetation composed of bamboo, to rivers and swamps among others.
Fauna in the park
The forest has a lengthy list of wildlife including; nearly 400 species of plants, with over 163 tree species and 100 species of ferns, 120 mammal species with 10 primate species including the Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Baboons, L’Hoest Monkeys, Nocturnal Bush-babies and Red-tailed monkeys. Among other mammals are the Elephants and various small Antelopes, 202 butterfly species and 88 moths, plus 51 reptile species.
Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park has an impressive list of birds, with over 350 species including 23 Albertine Rift Endemics, accounting to 90% of the Albertine endemic species such as the; African Green Broadbill, Shelley’s Crimson-wing, Short-tailed Warbler, White-tailed Blue flycatcher, Brown-necked Parrot, White-bellied Robinchat and Blue-headed Sunbird among others as well as seven IUCN Red Data listed species.
Various trails within Bwindi Impenetrable national park allow visitors to explore the diversity on nature walks. Visitors that make it to Bwindi have chance to take part in Mountain Gorilla tracking, Gorilla habituation experiences, Birdwatching safaris and Mountain biking along the Ivi River trail.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park is about 530km from Kampala; the country’s capital and can be accessed through a number of routes by road. The drive through the southwestern part of the country is just spectacular rewarding travellers with beautiful sights of the gorgeous Kigezi highlands. The approximate driving time from Kampala to the park is between 7-9hours.
The Kampala to Buhoma route via Ntungamo-Rukungiri and Kihihi takes about 7hours. The other routes include; the Kampala to Buhoma via Kabale and Ruhija, the route to Buhoma through Kabale and Kanungu as well as the route from Kampala to Nkuringo via Kabale being the longest.
The park can also be accessed from the neighboring parks i.e. from Mgahinga National Park in the southwest a journey that takes roughly 2hours or from Queen Elizabeth national park in the North of Bwindi a route that takes about 3hours. Similarly, a cross-border journey is possible to Bwindi Impenetrable national park from Rwanda’s capital-Kigali taking about 5hours via Kisoro.
Alternatively, the park can be accessed through a domestic charter or scheduled flight from Kajjansi Airstrip near Entebbe to Kisoro Airstrip, to Kayonza or Kihihi Airstrips near Bwindi.
Things to do in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
- Gorilla tracking / trekking safaris
- Nature walks and hikes
- Other primate tracking
- Mountain biking
Safaris to explore the jewell in Bwindi
3 Days Mountain Gorilla Trekking
3 Days Gorilla Habituation Experiential Tour
5 Days epic Gorilla Encounter
8 Days Gorilla & Chimps with Game viewing
11 Days Bird watching with Game viewing
12 Days Grand Uganda wildlife & Adventure