Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Mountain Gorillas, Birds & Other Primates
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in the far south-west where Uganda, DRC (Congo) and Rwanda meet. The park occupies 331sq km hosting half of the world’s mountain gorillas fit for gorilla tracking in Uganda. The park is a refuge to elephant, chimpanzee, monkeys and various small antelope, as well as 23 bird species restricted to the Albertine Rift. The thick forests of Bwindi cover a various hills ranging in height between 1000-2000 metres.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to roughly half of the world’s mountain gorillas. The national park has 90 mammal species, including 11 primates, of which the black-and-white colobus, with its lovely flowing white tail, is prominent.
The park is a success to the ongoing ecotourism that defines every essence of the continent and has therefore been designated as a World Heritage Site. The mountain gorillas have practically become a national emblem thus regarding them to be the country’s most important renewable natural resource. For Rwanda, the gorillas have become a source of great national pride. The pocket of huge primeval forest in the Virunga Mountain range is one of the most biologically diverse areas on earth. The forest floor is damp and laden with leaf mould, matted vegetation and fallen vines, which serve to trip you up as you clamber up and down the slippery slopes in search of a glimpse of the elusive gorillas.
Around Bwindi park
Nkuringo is located on the southern edge of Bwindi forest it is 10km from Buhoma to Bwindi with Nkurkingo as the second gorilla trekking area. The distance from Bwindi to Buhoma is covered by lovely walks and impenetrable forest taking a bout 4 hour to cover the two sites of Buhoma and Nkuringo. Nkuringo lies on the isolated Ridge of Nteko providing a clear view of northern part of Bwindi forest and Virunga volcanoes in the south.
The primary activity of Nkuringo is gorilla trekking. There is need for fitness of visitors in order to trek in the steep valley which is a bout 600m in the boundary of the park below the road.
Another activity in Nkuringo is the community walk. The community walks are conducted by villagers to the traditional healers, blacksmith, brewers and rural nomestead.
Next to Nkuringo is Ruhija where visitors have to go through the park head quarters a 4WD would be the best car to use when going Ruhija. From here visitors get to the undisturbed rain forest with the help of the ridge-top rout through the deep valleys. In the forest are number of primates, duikers and both forest as well as grassland bird species. Birders at Ruhija take at least 3-4 hours hike to visit the swamp of Mubwindi.
Visitors interested in seeing the Afromontane vegetation hike through the bamboo zone with panoramic views towards Mafuga forest and Lake Bunyonyi.
The busiest tourism site of the park (Bwindi) is Buhoma which is located on the northern edge of the forest. It is a base of trekking the three different groups of gorillas providing a wide range of accommodation ranging from up market to budget accommodation.
A part from gorilla trekking in Buhoma being the major attraction, there are also forest walks which provide comprehensive opportunities to see monkeys and birds.
In Buhoma are also cultural performances by local people and community walks. While on the community walks, tourists get a chance of interacting with local people as well as the challenging village life which is a great experience to the visitors. Visited sites in Buhoma are the banana brewery, and traditional healers. Events like traditional dances and music are a carried out for community development projects.
Guided day walks from buhomma
Villages walks ie Batwa village for the Nkuringo group
Getting to Bwindi from Kampala
From Kampala ones passes via kampala-Masaka – Kabala- Kanungu then Buhoma. This route is a tarmac high way up to Kabale taking a bout 5-6 hours drive and covering 414km. From Buhoma the rout is murram for a bout 120km, its takes 4-5 hours through Kanungu and Kanyantoro requiring a 4WD vehicle.
Kampala-Ntugamo- Rukingiri- Kihihi-Buhoma is the quickest and most accessible route to the park from for Kampala as compared to other routes. From Kampala the road is tarmac up to Rukungiri (390km) and the 82 km from Rukungiri to Buhoma is on a murram road.
Kampala-Kabale-Nkuringo. It takes 4 hours to drive on a murram road from Kabale to Nkuringo and covering a distance of 105km. The other alternative is to have an over night in Kisoro which is 80km from Kabale before getting to Nkuringo and From Kisoro to Nkuringo it takes 1 to 1.5 hours.
From Kasese/ Fort Portal
Travellers coming from the northern destination such as Kasese, Fort Portal or Queen Elizabeth National park can use two routes to Buhoma. The more interesting rout is Katunguru, Ishasha and Kihihi, takes three to five hours drives. The alternative route entails following the surfaced Mbarara road as far a south of Ishasha, where a right turn on to the unsurfaced old road to Kabale leads for 33km to Kagamba at the junction with the newly surfaced Ntungamo – Rukungiri road.
Accommodation in Bwindi ranges from up market to budget.
Upmarket and mid range accommodation.
Gorilla forest camp
Mantana Tented camp
Volcanoes Bwindi camp
Bwindi view bandas and camp sites
Buhoma community Campground