Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. Its mist-covered hillsides are covered by one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically varied rainforests, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of plants. More prominently, this “impenetrable forest” also guards an estimated 320 mountain gorillas – approximately half of the world’s inhabitants, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked.
This biologically varied region also offers refuge to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes. There are around 350 species of birds hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics.
Areas of interest in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park include;
Buhoma is positioned to the northwest of the park and faces the dark, hilly forests of Bwindi. Three gorilla groups can be tracked from here, and there are also community-run village walks for learning about the culture and lifestyle of the local Bakiga and Batwa tribes. Bird watching is also a main activity with great chances to see a number of Albertine Rift endemics such as the Short-tailed Warbler. Other activities include mountain biking and nature walks to waterfalls and parts of the forest. There are also several accommodations to suit all budgets and many local craft stalls.
Located the southern edge of the park, became Bwindi’s second gorilla tracking trailhead in 2004. Tracking the Nkuringo groups is exhausting, for their forest home lies a full 600m below the trailhead at Ntungamo village on Nteko ridge. Walks along the ridge-top road offer terrific views north towards the forested hills of Bwindi and south to the Virunga volcanoes. There are also chances of discovering the Bakiga culture through village walks, lively dance performances and cultural workshops organized by community groups.
Shongi trailhead, in the southeast of the park opened for gorilla tourism in 2009. Three groups (Shongi, Mishaya and Kahungye) can be tracked from this point. The trail goes down into the depths of the forest directly to the south of the park. In addition, this area offers village walks, bird watching and a stunning waterfall.
Located via the eastern side, sitting on top of the hill at 2,345m, Ruhija is a habitat to the Bitukura, Oruzoojo and Kyaguriro gorilla groups. This is Uganda’s highest tracking trail, and one of only two areas (the other being Rushaga) where elephants live.
A six-hour bamboo trail leads to Rwamunyoni Peak; at 2,607m, it is the top most point in the park and famous for good birding. Also of interest to birders is the three-hour trail downwards to Mubwindi swamp along which one could find the endemic and localized African Green Broadbill.
This community, a short drive north of Buhoma, sits on the DR Congo border and offers splendid guided hikes along the hill crests and rivers to discover waterfalls, glorious views, and the traditional lifestyle and folklore of the Kigezi people.
Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
It is an overwhelming experience to stand just meters from man’s far-away cousins as they eat, rest, play and connect with their young. Follow the mountain gorillas as they range freely in the impenetrable forest, and discover their attractive natural habitat and the many species they share it with.
The diverse homes of Uganda’s oldest forest mean it is the perfect home 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.
Discover the culture of the local Bakiga and Batwa communities with village walks, blacksmith visits, craft shops and lively dances – all against the amazing backdrop of the forest-covered hills of Bwindi.
Cycling or mountain biking in Bwindi
Mountain biking follows a well-maintained path from the park headquarters at Buhoma to the Ivi River. Along this 13kmpath you may see wildlife such as bushbucks, black-and-white Colobus and red-tailed monkeys.
Hiking or nature walks
There are six main nature tracks in Buhoma for those who wish to explore the “impenetrable forest”, including waterfall walks, forest strolls, primate encounters, mountain views and exciting birdlife.