Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in Southwestern Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. The park is part of Bwindi Impenetrable forest and comprises of 331sq. kilometers. It contains both montane and lowland forest and is accessible only by foot. The park is situated along Democratic Republic of Congo border next to the Virunga National park and on the edge of the Western Rift valley.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park was gazetted as a national park in 1991 with the Mubare gorilla group as the first group available for tourism in April 1993. Currently, the park protects over 1000 of the rare mountain gorillas which is half of the world’s total population.
There are 13 habituated gorilla families that are visited everyday by tourists. The gorilla families are situated in four main sectors of Bwindi Impenetrable national park which include, Rushaga, Buhoma, Nkuringo and Ruhija sector.
Buhoma sector is located in northern part of Bwindi and is the most visited sector compared to other sectors. This sector protects the oldest group of gorillas in Bwindi, the Mubare gorilla family which was habituated in 1992, just a year after the establishment of the park. other families in Buhoma sector include Habinyanja (1997) and Rushegura (2000). This sector is also well known for its luxury lodges and very nice food.
Other than gorilla trekking in Buhoma region, visitors also participate in community walk at the edge of the forest, following trails like the Waterfall trail, Rushura trail, River Ivi trail, Munyaga trail, Muzabajiro loop taril and others. Bird watchers should tadrget Buhoma due to the presence of over 300 species of birds in this region.
Ruhija is situated in the Eastern part of Bwindi forest and a home to the Kyaguriro, Bitukura and Oruzogo gorilla families. Ruhija is the coolest sector and it is so amazing for hiking to the Rwamunyonyi peak. The sector also harbors primates like elephants and monkeys. Ruhija has mostly budget and mid range accommodation.
The sector is situated in southern Bwindi and a home to the habituated Nkuringo family. Nkuringo sector is a situated on a higher altitude so it needs physically fit visitors to trek in it. Mostly youths and strong adults who can manage strenuous hikes are encouraged to trek in Nkuringo. In most cases the Rushaga’s Bushaho gorilla families cross to Nkuringo sector. Cultural walks to visit the Bakiga communities should not be missed out when In Nkuringo sector. Mid range and budget accommodation are found in this sector.
Located in the southern Bwindi, Rushaga protects 5 gorilla families making it the largest and the most perfect place to trek the shy apes. The habituated gorilla families include the Bweza, Busingye, Kahungye, Nshongi and Mishaya gorilla families. The sector also has gorilla habituation and two families, the Bikyingi and Bushaho gorilla families are undergoing habituation training. Luxury, midrange and budget accommodation are found in Rushaga sector.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi is carried out throughout the year but most visitors love it during the high seasons. The trekking permits are sold out by the Uganda Wildlife Authority to the interested visitors.
104 gorilla permits at USD 600.00 are sold out every day to trekkers and only a minimum of 8 trekkers are allowed to visit a particular gorilla family for one hour. You will be given the gorilla rules and regulations governing before and during the trek.
visitors are argued to book for the gorilla permits 3 or 4 months before coming to Uganda to carry out the trek. This is due to the high competition for these permits.
A gorilla habituation experiences goes for USD1500.00 for foreign non residents and USD100.00 for foreign residents.
Apart from Gorilla trekking, Bwindi protects a number of primates including the elephants, chimpanzees, monkeys and various small antelopes.
Birding in Bwindi is so great with various speciesof birds including 23 endemics (90% of all Albertine Rift endemics) such as Blue-headed Sunbird, Short-tailed Warbler as well as the IUCN red data listed species.
The common species are the African Blue and White-tailed Blue Flycatchers, Common Bulbul, and the Red-headed Bluebill. Birding is carried out mainly along the main trail, Buhoma waterfall trail and along the Bamboo zone and Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija.
Hiking in bwindi is done along the major trails including Muyanga waterfall walk,Rushura Hill walk, the Habinyanja trail, the Buhom-Nkuringo Trail, the Ivi River Walk and the Muzubijiro loop.
There is also cycling and cultural walks which include visiting the Batwa people, traditional healer, schools and spotting other primates with the guidance of an experienced tour guide
Bwindi can easily be accessed from Queen Elizabeth national park to the north (3-4 hours), from Kampala via Mbarara (530km). a 4WD vehicle is recommended for this journey.
Another option is booking a charter flight from Entebbe or Kampala to the modern Kisoro airstrip