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The impenetrable forest reserve was gazetted in 1942, up graded to the Bwindi impenetrable national park in 1992 and recognised as a world heritage site in 1994. In the local Lukiga language, a Bwindi actually means ‘impenetrable’. This double warning is apt, for Bwindi is all but impenetrable; 327 sq km of tangled vegetation draped over a deeply fissured landscape of steep, slippery valleys and high, draughty ridges. But if the terrain is far from easy to negotiate, it is well worth the effort. A trek through this, one of Africa’s most ancient rain forests, in search of the endangered mountain gorilla, ranks among the world’s premier wildlife encounters.
Known for unforgettable tours, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is undoubtedly the best gorilla trekking destination in the world. This impenetrable forest is unequalled for its natural beauty and it has the greatest concentration of mountain gorillas in worldwide.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda lies in the southwestern edge of the rift valley covered by hillsides and diverse rain forest which dates back over 25000 years.
Bwindi can be cold especially in the morning and at night. The annual average temperature range is 7 degrees to 20 degrees Celsius with the coldest period being June and July. Warm clothing is required, plus wet weather gear since Bwindi receives up to 2390mm of rain/year. This is concentrated during two wet seasons, short rains in March to May and heavy rains in September to November. Instead of short tropical deluges, rain in Bwindi often falls as long hours of soft drizzle.
The park holds over 400 tree species, butterflies, wildlife, birds and 400 mountain gorillas roughly half of the world’s population plus several other primate species including monkeys and chimpanzees.
There are several habituated gorilla families which are tracked by tourists daily. The park is divided into four park sectors of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. These sectors have been well conserved with different habituated gorilla’s families and accommodations. Tourists should therefore book gorilla permits before booking accommodation and transport since the four sectors have different briefing points and located in a further distance that may involve long morning drives in case one spends a night in another sector and has permits for other sectors. Its unique natural beauty has inspired many writers and travelers, researchers, journalists as well as numerous photographers.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a home to the most impressive wildlife encounter on earth drawing many to Africa to see the unique rare primates.
ACTIVITIES NOT TO BE MISSED IN BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST
During your Uganda gorilla tracking safari, you will view and meet mountain gorillas, other primates, wildlife, birds and many forest habitants as you explore the rain forest jungle in search of the rare primates. The search is by foot while looking to spot rare forest habitants and photography. However, there are many other great safari activities to enjoy here including gorilla trekking,cultural tourism, walking community tours, photography, hiking, shopping , souvenirs, birding, waterfall tours and mountain gorilla habituation.
Things to Do in the Different Sectors of the Forest
Buhoma; Bwindi’s tourism site is Buhoma on the northern edge of the forest. It is the trail head for gorilla tracking within the three gorilla groups and a wide range of accommodation is available. Though gorilla tracking is the main attraction, a range of other walks provide more relaxed opportunities to spot birds and monkeys while exploring one of uganda’s loveliest rain forests. These walks can be arranged to depart in the morning at 09:00 and in the after noon at 14:15.
Buhoma community walk and cultural performances; the local community operates a village life. Sites visited included a typical homestead, the traditional healer and a banana beer brewery. Local dance groups also perform traditional dance and music in the evenings by arrangements. Proceeds from these events are used for community development projects.
Nkuringo; as the crow flies, Buhoma is just 10 km from Bwindi’s second gorilla tracking location at Nkuringo on the southern edge of the forest. However this distance is covered by the impenetrable forest and the lovely walk between the two sites takes at least four hours. The Nkuringo trail head lies on the isolated Nteko ridge which enjoys grandstand views across Bwindi forest to the north and towards the Virunga volcanoes in the south.
Gorilla tracking is the primary activity at Nkuringo. Visitors should be fit as the park boundary lies in a steep valley 600m below the road. This provides good exercise before and after tracking gorillas.
Nkuringo community walk; villagers at Nkuringo operate a community walk that visits a traditional healer, rural homestead, blacksmith, and brewers.
Ruhija; visitors with their own vehicles should consider crossing the centre of the park from Buhoma park headquarters through Ruhija (a 4WD is essential). This ridge top route offers vistas into deep valleys containing undisturbed rainforest. Watch out for duiker, primates and both forest and grassland bird species. At Ruhija, birders should take the 3-4 hikes to visit the Mubwindi swamp. Visitors may also climb through the bamboo zone to find afro-montane vegetation and panoramic views towards Lake Bunyonyi and Mafuga forest.
Where to Stay
There is a wide variety of accommodations available in each section from luxury lodges to Budget campsites and loges making it very comfortable for tourists on gorilla trekking tours to spend nights in comfort and leisure.
Getting Around Bwindi Forest
One can get to the park by road in a private safari vehicle, public transport and hired safari van or flights though would recommend the use of tour operators who organize trips to this park daily for more advice and convenient means of transport.
Best Time to Vist Bwindi National Park
All year round the park can be visited but the dry season months of June-October and December –March are said to be the best. The roads are passable; treks are manageable though seeing gorillas is a must for whoever visits Bwindi forest. Above all it’s the mountain gorillas which make Bwindi National Park famous with incredible goirllla trekking tours January to December every year.