Bwindi Impenetrable National Park - Top 5 Tourist Activities in Bwindi
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in south western Uganda, covering parts of Rukungiri, Kisoro, and Kabale Districts. It is situated in a hilly country-side that, together with some remnant lowland forest outside the boundary constitutes an important water catchments area for many rivers, supplying the agricultural land of the surrounding region.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a true equatorial jungle, inhabited by four gorilla groups. Amongst the dense vegetation the columbus monkey jumps from branch to branch, chattering its warning to its fellows hidden by the foliage. Chimpanzees, in families of 20 or 30, make the rounds, searching for fruit and edible plants.
It is situated in a hilly country-side that, together with some remnant lowland forest outside the boundary constitutes an important water catchments area for many rivers, supplying the agricultural land of the surrounding region.
The best time to visit Uganda is late December to late February, and from June to September, as the weather at this time of year is generally dry, and warm. Temperatures average at around 25 degrees Celsius.
Accessing Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi forest can be accessed from Queen Elizabeth National Park to the northern just 2 to 3 hours drive, from Kampala through Mbarara about 6 to 8 hours drive or from Kabale town to the southern just 1 to 2 hours. These roads then converge at Butogota, just 17 kilometers from the Buhoma entrance-gate.
Top 5 Tourist Things to Do In Bwindi
1. Gorilla Trekking
In Uganda gorilla trekking can only be done in Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Bwindi alone has at least 480 mountain gorillas – roughly half of the world’s population, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked. In Bwindi, gorilla trekking is done at either Buhoma or Ruhija or Nkuringo or Rushaga area (also known as sectors). These sectors currently have 18 mountain gorillas families that have been habituated for gorilla trekking in Uganda. You will need a gorilla trekking permit to track the mountain gorillas in Bwindi. A gorilla permit costs UD600 (and in 2020 the gorilla permit will cost $700). On any single day, about 130 tourists can visit the mountain gorillas in Bwindi.
You need to plan your gorilla tracking tour well in advance, at least 90 days in advance because the gorilla trek permits usually sell out faster. Also, be sure to have dull color clothes for your gorilla trekking tour in Bwindi.
Bwindi is probably the best place to trek the mountain gorillas because the gorilla permit is cheaper at $600 and also the park is very safe for tourist activity.
2. Mountain Gorilla Habituation Experience (with 4 hours with the gorillas)
Gorilla habituation experience is only done in Uganda's Bwindi impenetrable National Park. It is conducted with the Bikingi mountain gorilla family in Rushaga area of Bwindi. the gorilla habituation experience permit costs USD1500 per person and you have the chance to trek the gorillas and be in their presence for 4 hours. It gives you the chance to be with the gorillas longer and also learn about the gorilla habituation exercise in Bwindi. The maximum number of participants for this activity is 4 persons per day. The gorilla family has at least 25 gorilla members and you have lots of time to enjoy the gorillas and take photographs as you wish.
3. Viewing other 11 Primates, monkeys in Bwindi
Although Bwindi forest is largely known for gorilla trekking tours, it also provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes, L’Hoest’s Monkeys, De Brazza Monkeys, Red-tailed Monkeys, Blue Monkeys as you trek through the forest.
While in Bwindi, you can visit the park office and arrange a guided forest walk in to the park to spot any of these primates. You will need to pay a park fee of USD40 per person as well as a nature walk fee of $30. A ranger guide/escort is a must for all those intend to do a natural walk in the forest.
For security reasons, guided night walks in Bwindi haven't yet been implemented but there are nocturnal species like the Potto and the various Galago Species that are resident in Bwindi.
4. Local Community experiences, Batwa Pygmies experience
The Batwa are a pygmies tribe of Uganda who were originally living in Bwindi before it was gazetted as a park. The Batwa have lived their lives to current generations by hunting and gathering in the forest. The visit to the Batwa invariably involves songs and a dance demonstration, and once the music begins you can’t help but notice that they project a genuine pride in themselves.
The Batwa experience fee is USD80 for the full day or $30 for a 3 hours experience. In the Batwa experience, members of the Batwa Community lead tourists through the forest in the shadows and teach the visitors about their ancient ways of hunting and gathering and the Batwa Guides get to return to the Rainforest and keep their traditions alive, at least in spirit. The Batwa communities also receive half of the Batwa Trail Fees.
5. Birdwatching 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 (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.
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 (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. Easy to see are the African Emerald Cuckoo, Common Bulbul, African Blue and White-tailed Blue Flycatchers and Red-headed Bluebill.
Birding takes place along the main trail, the Buhoma Waterfall Trail and along the bamboo zone and Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija