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Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Bwindi Park Uganda. Gorilla Trekking Bwindi. Mountain Gorillas Bwindi.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is situated in South Western Uganda on the rim of the rift valley covered by Bwindi Forest which is one of the most ecologically and biologically rich tropical rainforests in the World. Bwindi Impenetrable Park is a staggering 312 square kilometres and stands at an altitude of well above 2600m above sea level. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was gazetted in 1991 and declared a UNESCO Natural world heritage site in 1994. Bwindi is popular for visitation for gorilla trekking expeditions as it hosts the rare endangered Mountain Gorillas, a privilege it shares with the Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda and Virunga National Park of the DRC. About 320 mountain gorillas which is almost 1/2 of the world's mountain gorillas live in Bwindi including a high number ,currently 9 habituated gorilla families which can be tracked by tourists and visitors. Gorilla researchers are continuously dedicating their working lives to the protection, conservation and habituation of more gorilla groups. The Mubare group in 1993 became the 1st gorilla group to be habituated and trekked by tourists.

In addition to being a habitat for over 50% of the world's population of mountain gorillas, Bwindi is home to over 400 different types of plant species, over 120 mammals, including chimps, baboons, rarely seen elephants, antelopes, and a whopping over 350 birds species 23 of which are endemic to the Albertine rift. Bwindi Impenetrable forest serves as the source of a number of rivers which are tributaries to Lake Edward, which forms part of the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park, home to the hippos, elephants, a number of cats and other game and wildlife.

For visitors to Bwindi who are interested in culture, the local Bakiga and Batwa pygmies and their cultural performances will entertain you, their history and cultural practices will enchant you. You will discover how they live through homestays village walks through their homesteads.

Bwindi areas of interest

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park given its massive size can be broken down into sectors each of which has a number of activities that are of interest to visitors to Bwindi. In commonality to all the areas in Bwindi is gorilla trekking opportunities. Of recent Uganda Wildlife Authority UWA, does not sell permits based on gorilla groups, but based on sectors. Gorilla groups for trekking are assigned to gorilla trekkers on the morning of the gorilla treks. Accommodation thus needs to be booked with the gorilla sector in mind so that visitors are able to spend gorilla trekking overnights closest to their gorilla trekking sectors.

Nkuringo

The Nkuringo sector of Bwindi National Park is the closest to Rwanda for those who wish to trek the gorillas both in Rwanda and across the border in Uganda. Nkuringo is located on the southern end of Bwindi National Park. After Mubare in 1993, Nkuringo became the 2nd habituated gorilla group available to gorilla trekking tourists in 2004. It is generally accepted that tracking the Nkuringo gorilla group is quite challenging and demands a fair level of fitness given that Nkuringo lies along the Nteko ridge which is almost 600m above the gorilla trekking base. However for those who can hack it, the Nkuringo gorilla trek is extremely rewarding with breathtaking views of Bwindi forest and the Virunga volcanoes. In addition there is plenty of Nkuringo walking trails that culminate with a dug-out canoe ride on the beautiful lake Mutanda. Discover Bakiga culture and the Batwa pygmies when you participate in the local area walks, exciting and enriching cultural dances and performances hence adding value to your gorilla trekking trip to Bwindi in Uganda.

Ruhija

Ruhija sector is located on the eastern front of Bwindi Impenetrable national park on an impressive 2.345m above sea level. Ruhija hosts 3 mountain gorilla groups namely Oruzogo, Bitukura and of late Kyaguriro gorilla families. It is not surprising that Ruhija is Bwindi's highest trekking trail and the only sector together with Rushaga where elephants can be located. Ruhija is also home to the highest point in Bwindi National Park, Rwanunyoni which is 2,600m. For adventure lovers a 6hrs trail will lead to the conquering of the Rwamunyoni peak. For avid birders visitors to Bwindi, a 3hrs bird watching walking trail terminates in Mubwindi swamp which hosts the endemic to the Albertine Rift-The African Green Broadbill.

Buhoma

The Buhoma sector of Bwindi National Park is situated on the North Western corner of Bwindi. Buhoma is another sector that is well sought after by intending gorilla trekkers given that it is home to 3 gorilla families which can be trekked from Buhoma as the base. Buhoma has a fair number of very well organised community run projects which explore the Bakiga and Batwa Pygmies, including their cultural lifestyles, way of life, tribal dances and performances. Same can be experienced through homestay arrangements and natural walks through the local villages. Buhoma offer enriching bird watching opportunities to bird lovers including the chance to see various Albertine Rift endemics e.g the Short-tailed Warbler .Visitors are also able to explore the Buhoma area through mountain biking, hiking through the forest, hikes to the waterfalls and village walks. A number of highend, mid-range, budget lodge options and community camps are located in Buhoma giving visitors to the area a wide choice of accommodation options to choose from.

Rushaga

Rushaga Sector is situated on the south east end of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The sector became ready to receive gorilla visitors for gorilla trekking in 2009 with the opeing of the Nshongi trailhead. 3 gorilla family groups , Nshongi, Mishaya and Kahungye can be trekked from Rushaga. The Rushaga sector offers opportunities for bird watching, hikes to the waterfalls and a number of village walks.

Nyundo

The lesser known Nyundo area is located just north of Buhoma and is a stone throw from the DRC border, Nyundo offers opportunities for memorable guided village walks and guided walks along the river banks and the hills to explore the incredible views, and discover majestic waterfalls, plus the cultural lifestyles of the Bakiga tribe.

Wildlife and Birding in Bwindi.

There is alot more to Bwindi than just gorillas. Bwindi is natural habitat to a great variety of other mammals , birds and plants species. Bwindi hosts over 120 mammal species making it only 2nd to Queen Elizabeth National Park as a hot sought after tourist destination in Uganda for game and wildlife lovers. Bwindi is home to 11 types of primates and these include; chimps, black and white colobus monkeys, baboons and the L'hoest's monkey species which can only be found in Nyungwe forest of Rwanda. Surprisingly elephants and antelopes can also sometimes be spotted in Bwindi. There is butterflies galore in bwindi, totalling to a an incredibly high figure of 200 butterfly species, 42 of which are endemic to the Albertine rift.

Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi.

A great many visitors to Bwindi are here to eyeball the gentle giants of the Virungas and Bwindi-The mountain gorillas. Meeting the mountain gorillas is a once in a lifetime experience for most visitors.

When was the last time you had a once-in-a-lifetime experience? Meeting the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat in Bwindi could be this next time, without a doubt.

Join Karibu Rwanda or gorillas vacations on a thrilling tour to Uganda to see the gorillas in Bwindi, Chimpanzees in Kibale and lions, elephants, hippos in Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks. The memorable adventure will take you through the beautiful game rich national parks of Uganda and will culminate in what is saved as best for last-The rare endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi which happens to host over 50% of the world's population of mountain gorillas. It is a truly breathtaking trip experience which will stay as one of your favourite travel experiences of all time. Any one that can make this trip should make it in their lifetime.

Following an early morning briefing, mountain gorilla trekkers start on a trek through the tropical rainforest of Bwindi on a walk that may last from a few hours up to a full day, depending on the location of the gorillas as they range freely in the mountain forest. Mountain gorilla trekking groups are Tours are restricted to a maximum of 8pax people and visitors spend a maximum of one hour in the company of the gorillas . The reason for the limitations in group visitor number is so as to minimize behavioural disturbance and risk of disease transmission to the mountain gorillas.

Gorilla permits must be booked in advance, as the gorilla permits sell out months in advance. For more information about gorilla permits fees and booking contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for gorilla permits availability and the cost of gorilla permits as Uganda wildlife authority periodically run gorilla permits cost discounts especially during the low season.

Birds

To avid birders, Bwindi offers bird watching opportunities like no other in Africa and perhaps in the whole world. A number of serious and professional birders have been wowed by the number of birds species that they have seen on a visit to Uganda. Uganda and Bwindi in particular remains an under-rated birding super-destination. There can be found in Bwindi alone an approximate 350 birds species of which 23 are endemic to the albertine rift (90% of all Albertine Rift endemics) such as the Short-tailed Warbler and Blue-headed Sunbird as well as seven IUCN red data listed species . 14 of the bird species have not been sighted anywhere else in Uganda. One would have to come to Bwindi to watch these rare birds species.. Some of the rare world endangered birds like Shelley's Crimson-wing and the green broadbill can only be found in Bwindi Impenetrable. Other birds species to be found here include the Mountain-masked and Collared Apalis; Mountain and Yellow-streaked Greenbuls; and Many-colored Bush-Shrike ,Handsome Francolin; Black-billed Turaco; Blue-headed sunbirds and Regal Sunbirds; Short-tailed and Black-faced Rufous Warblers; African Broadbill; Black and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters; Western Green Tinkerbird; Purple-breasted, sunbirds, African Emerald Cuckoo, Common Bulbul, African Blue and White-tailed Blue Flycatchers and Red-headed Bluebill.etc. Where else in the world would one find all these different birds species in one birding location. No wonder Uganda and Bwindi in particular is referred to as a birders' paradise.

Hiking and guided Nature Walks in Bwindi

Bwindi has a number of hiking trails, mountain biking trails and a number of guided nature walks, especially in Buhoma which has a total of 6 nature trails. Hiking through Bwindi and guided nature walks are a very great way of exploring and discovering the greater Bwindi Impenetrable forest.

Muyanga Waterfall Walk

For those visiting Bwindi and wish to explore waterfalls, there is a guided waterfall walk that starts from Buhoma along River Nkuringo and ends up in the fascinating waterfalls view of water dropping from 33m. It is a sight to behold and everyone should endeavour to check out the waterfalls while they are in Buhoma as part of their gorilla trekking trip or other Buhoma activities.

Rushura Hill Walk . For adventure enthusiasts who are fairly fit, you may participate in the hill walk to Rushura in Bwindi. On sunny days when one is hiking to Rushura they can have great views of Lake Edward and Lake George, plus the mountain of the moon-The Rwenzoris as well as the majestic Virunga Volcanoes of the DRC and Rwanda.

The Muzubijiro Loop is a 6km guided walk around a hill. Participants in the Muzubijiro walk will view primates, watch plenty of birds and enjoy great views of the Virunga Volcanoes.

The Ivi River Walk is a 14km walking trail that takes about 7 hours to complete. The Ivi River walking trail goes through Mukempunu – in the local language translated as “a place of pigs” . Not surprisingly you will encounter plenty of wild pigs on the walking trail.

The Buhoma-Nkuringo Trail . This is one of the most popular guided walking trail, and is conducted by Nkuringo walking safaris or Karibu Rwanda staff. The walk takes on average 3 to 4 hours and goes past the middle of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, in the part that interconnects 2 villages. The walking trail accords participants breathtaking views of the cloudy mountainsides as you proceed to climb hills towards the Nkuringo end of the trail. Your driver guide will proceed ahead of you and meet with you at the Nkuringo side. The Buhoma -Nkuringo walking trail can also be done in reverse, Nkuringo to Buhoma and can also be undertaken as part of the Ivi River Walk.

Karibu Rwanda Walking Safaris offers guided nature walks between Buhoma in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the town of Kisoro via Nkuringo and vice versa. This experience offers a low cost insider's perspective into village life in rural Uganda and will highlight to you some of the wonders of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest all at your own pace.

The walk will provide the visitor with the opportunity to explore the fabric of rural Uganda as few others get to see.

Journey highlights include:

  • Views of the Virunga Volcanoes
  • Journey by dugout canoe on Lake Mutanda
  • Visits to rural homesteads
  • Experience breathtaking views from Nkuringo
  • Hike through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest 

Walking is of course the focus of this tour. The vast majority of people in this region walk to most of their destinations. You will have the chance to see how villagers go about their daily life and even be able to interact with them .This guided journey can be undertaken in either direction between Buhoma and Kisoro and Kisoro and Buhoma. At least one night may be spent in Nkuringo .Client drives with driver guide to Rubuguri Junction some 10km to be dropped with the walking safari guide to walk to the north shore of Lake Mutanda. This will take some 3 hours. At the north shore you will start a 2 and 1/2 traverse of lake Mutanda by dugout canoe. Your safari vehicle would meet with you and guide at Lake Mutanda Eco Camp on the southern shore of the lake.

The Habinyanja Trail . The Habinyanja trail can be undertaken a day before or after trekking the habinyanja gorilla group. The walking trail lasts between 4-6hrs. The trail crosses the Munyaga River, from where it leads to a very steep ascent of the Riyovi and Habigorogoro Ridges which directly overlook the Buhoma River. While on this trail you will explore the legendary “African Corner” named after a piece of rock whose shape looks exactly like the African map. For hiking enthusiasts the trail then follows a very steep gradient that slowly slopes down into the great Habinyanja swamp. Avid birder watching participants on this trail should keep an eye out for the African Black Duck, Black Bee Eaters and Pel’s Fishing Owls among other rare species that can be found in Bwindi.

Birding in Bwindi

The varied habitats of Uganda’s oldest forest mean it is the ideal habitat for a variety of birds, with 350 species recorded, including 23 endemics. Birding takes place along the main trail, the Buhoma Waterfall Trail and along the bamboo zone and Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija.

Cycling/Mountain Biking in Bwindi

Mountain biking follows a well-maintained trail from the park headquarters at Buhoma to the Ivi River. Along this 13km trail you may see wildlife such as bushbucks, black-and-white colobus and red-tailed monkeys. The six-seven hour round trip departs in the morning, and is organized by Buhoma Community Rest Camp under the “Ride for a Woman“ community development initiative.

-How to get to Bwindi

By Road

Bwindi can be easily accessed from Kigali. Fly into Kigali which is served by a number of international airlines including KLM, Ethiopian, SN Brussels, Rwanda Air, Kenya Airways, Air Uganda, etc. From Kigali one is able to hire a self drive 4x4 from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. www.carhireandholidays.com or get 4x4 car rental with driver. If you are trekking the gorillas in Rwanda, the drive will take 2.5hrs from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park. From Volcanoes National Park you would cross the border via the Cyanika border crossing into Kisoro. The closest gorilla trekking group would be Nkuringo.

For arrivals Via Entebbe International Airport, Bwindi can be accessed from Queen Elizabeth National Park and is only 3 hours away. Alternatively Bwindi can be reached via Kabale to the south for those travelling via Lake Mburo National Park. Bwindi is only about 1.5hrs from Kabale . lternatively you may travel to Bwindi directly from Kampala via Mbarara a lengthy but beautiful scenery 8 hours drive on mostly on very good tar roads. The roads meet at Butogota, 17km from the Buhoma entrance gate. A 4WD vehicle is necessary during the rainy season. Ask us for public transportation options, though we do not encourage use of public transportation. You are here on a memorable holiday, why not spoil yourself, and offer the locals some much needed employment in this neck of the woods.

Arriving to Bwindi by air

Visitors to Bwindi can fly from Entebbe or Kampala to the airstrip at Kisoro. Charter flights can also be arranged to use the Kayonza or Savannah airstrips. Contact us for charter flights options . This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Depending on which group of gorillas you are trekking, Bwindi is well served by 3 airfields at Kayonza and Kihiihi for the northern sector and Nyakabande in Kisoro for those going to track gorillas in the southern sector (Nkuringo, Nshongi and Mishaya). Your travel consultant will arrange for the 4x4 vehicles to travel ahead of the flights so that they meet on arrival at the applicable airfield and transfer you to your appropriate Bwindi accommodation.

What to Bring .

If you are in Bwindi for gorilla trekking or hikes/nature walks, we recommend that you pack good hiking or walking boots/shoes. Bwindi is also at quite high altitude, the evenings and nights get quite cold, we thus suggest that you pack some warm clothing. It can also rain at very short notice, wet weather clothing and water proof jackets would come in handy, plus water proof bags to protect the cameras and other equipment from getting wet when in rains. Temperatures can get extremely high during sunny days, so we recommend you bring with you some sun shields, like hats, and sun protecting cream

Climate and When to Visit .

Bwindi can be visited all year round without exception. The park is open for business and gorilla trekking all 365 days of the year. Bwindi's average temperatures range between 7⁰C - 20⁰C. The lowest temperatures time of the year experienced in Bwindi is June and July. The rainy seasons are March-May and September-November. Rains in March-May are short. The rains are heavier in September-November.

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Email: info@gorillapermitsrwanda.com
Uganda Office: Suite 3, Pioneer House
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Kampala, East Africa

Uganda Enquiries Contact

Gorillas Vacations
Tel: +256-392.897.704
Mob: +256-782-014-207
Email: info@gorillapermitsrwanda.com
Uganda Office: Suite 3, Pioneer House
Plot 28 Jinja Road
Kampala, East Africa

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