Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Things to do in Bwindi
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is bordered by Kabale, Kanungu and Kisoro district, in Southwestern Uganda just at the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). When planning a Uganda safari, it is one of a kind safari destination you should consider a must-visit and you won’t be left in regrets. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was gazetted in 1991 primarily to offer refuge to mountain gorillas which today make up a total of not more than 1004 in the world and in 1994, it was designated a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1994 It sits in an area of about 331 square kilometers comprising largely of the tropical rain-forest where most of its diverse wildlife species are confined. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park straddles between elevation 1160 and 2607 meters.
Wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is known for its iconic attractions which make it one of the biologically rich destinations. It hosts over 120 mammal species which include many primate species including mountain gorillas, olive baboons, chimpanzees, L’Hoest monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys; giant forest hogs, African elephants, African civet, side stripped jackals and many others. There are also over 200 butterfly species including the cream banded swallowtail, African giant swallowtail; several amphibian species and reptiles.
Birdlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
About 350 bird species are confined in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park making it one of the leading birding destinations. The birds to identify on birding tour in this park include the short-tailed warblers, Wilcock’s honey guide, white-tailed blue monarch, Grauer’s rush warblers, bar-tailed trogon, rusty faced woodland warblers, yellow-eyed black fly catcher, dusky crimson wing, Kivu ground thrush, black-billed turaco, Fraser’s eagle, white-bellied robin, Shelley’s crimson wing, western bronze napped pigeon, purple breasted, regal sunbirds, African green broadbill, common bulbul, African emerald, western green tinkerbird, chestnut throated Apalis to mention but a few.
Activities to do in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is famous for gorilla trekking experiences. About half of all the mountain gorillas in the world thrive in this forested protected area and today, approximately 20 groups have been habituated and set for gorilla trekking. Trekking is done in a group of 8 visitors and each group is assigned to one habituated gorilla family. Gorilla treks in Bwindi start from the Buhoma region, Rushaga area, Nkuringo, and Ruhija. In Buhoma, the gorilla families that are open for trekking include Habinyanja, Katwe, Mubare, and Rushegura; in Ruhija area-they include Oruzogo, Bitukura, Mukiza, and Kyaguriro; in Rushaga sector-visitors can trek gorilla families like Kutu, Mucunguzi, Bweza, Busingye, Kahungye, Nshongi, Rwigi, Bikingi and in Nkuringo sector-you can choose to trek Nkuringo group, Christmas and Bushaho.
To trek mountain gorillas in Bwindi, every trekker requires a valid gorilla permit. Each gorilla permit costs $1500 per person and most essentially, you need to secure your permit early before the actual trek. Booking for a gorilla permit can be done through a recognized tour operator or through reservation team at Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
Birding in Bwindi
With your binoculars and camera, bird watching in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is more exciting. It lets you identify variety of bird species including short-tailed warblers, Wilcock’s honey guide, white-tailed blue monarch, Grauer’s rush warblers, bar-tailed trogon, rusty faced woodland warblers, yellow-eyed black fly catcher, dusky crimson wing, Kivu ground thrush, black-billed turaco, Fraser’s eagle, white-bellied robin, Shelley’s crimson wing, western bronze napped pigeon, purple breasted, regal sunbirds, African green broadbill, common bulbul, African emerald, Rwenzori batis, cinnamon chested bee-eater, African emerald cuckoo, western green tinkerbird, chestnut throated Apalis and many more.
The popular trails to embark on bird watching experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include among others the Bwindi swamp trail, Kashasha River trail, Bamboo zone, Buhoma waterfall trail, Ivy River trail. Remarkably, each of these trails reward birders with lots of astonishing sights.
Nature walks in Bwindi
Nature walks are by far the best way to explore and experience what Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has to offer. It takes you through different trails, each trail comes with lots of astonishing sights especially the bird species, butterflies, plant species and many more. Depending on the trail, a nature walk can last you about 3 to 4 hours. The key trails for you to set off for nature walk in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include the Buhoma Nkuringo trail, Rushura Hill walk, Muzubijiro loop, Ivy River walk.
Cultural tours in Bwindi
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is surrounded by communities, each local community has something unique for visitors on Uganda safari to explore. The best cultural experiences in Bwindi can be got on a community walk in the Batwa Community or Bakiga Community where you get a chance to enjoy their unique dances, learn about their traditions, lifestyles.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is situated on the hilly side of the Uganda-Kigezi region and embarking on cycling/mountain biking is such a memorable experience. Biking tours in Bwindi are amazing and you get a chance to explore the nearby communities, spot out butterflies, birds, primates among others.
Where to stay in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
When choosing for accommodation for your night stay in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, it is important to do so depending on your travel needs. Each sector in Bwindi National Park has its own lodges. In Buhoma sector, you can choose from the following-Buhoma Lodge, Mahogany Springs Lodge, Silverback Lodge, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Engagi Lodge, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Lodge, Bwindi Lodge; in Ruhija sector-the notable lodges include Bakiga Lodge, Agandi Lodge, Broadbill Forest Camp; Nkuringo region is comprised of Nkuringo Safari Lodge, Clouds Mountains Gorilla Lodge and Rushaga region features lodges like Gorilla Valley Lodge, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Mutanda Lake Resort, Chameleon Hill Lodge.
Best time to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Visiting Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has no specific best time. For any plans to spend a holiday in this pristine national park, you need to consider the dry and wet season. The dry season is perfect for gorilla trekking and it occurs between June, July, August, September, and December, January, February. The wet or rainy season is ideal for bird watching and this normally occurs in March, April, May, and October, November.
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is accessible by road or by air. By road, your journey can start from Kampala and you drive via Masaka-Mbarara to Kabale, approximately 7 hours. From Kabale, you can connect to Buhoma area about 3-4 hours and driving up to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park requires a good 4×4 drive safari vehicle.
Alternatively, you can opt for flight services starting from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip. From Kihihi airstrip or Kisoro airstrip, you can drive up to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.