A magnificent verdant swathe across the steep ridges of the Albertine Rift Valley, this ancient rainforest – one of the few in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age – is home to roughly half of the world’s mountain gorillas. Bwindi National Park is situated in south western Uganda Kanungu district and driving to Bwindi from Kampala takes 9 / 10 hours drive.
Looking deep into the expressive brown eyes of these gentle giants is surely the most exciting and poignant wildlife encounter that Africa has to offer – but we should not let it distract from Bwindi’s broader biodiversity, a result of its immense antiquity and an altitude span from 1,160 to 2,607m.
Bwindi National Park has 120 mammal species, including 11 primates, of which the black-and-white Columbus, with its lovely flowing white tail, is prominent. Bwindi National Park is also an ideal place for bird watchers with over 350 difference species. The forest birding ranks with the best in Uganda, with 23 highly localized Albertine Rift endemics present. Bwindi also boost of over 200 species of butterflies.
It’s important to note that Bwindi was put on gazette as a National Park in 1991 and declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994.
The main activity being Gorillars trekking, and for conservation purposes, visits to the gorillas are tightly controlled. Registration and briefing at the park offices at Buhoma and Nkuringo commences at 07:45. Tracking starts at 08:30 and can last from a few hours to the whole day depending on where the gorillas are in the forest.
Bwindi National Park offers up to a maximum of 72 gorilla trekking permits daily are available for gorilla trekking. For this case, an advance booking of 2-12 months is recommended to avoid disappointment. Advance booking up to 2 years in advance are accepted. Permits are non-refundable, although in some cases will be transferable. Some permits may be available on short notice.
Another interesting activity around Bwindi is Culture. If you are interested in expanding your knowledge of local Ugandan culture, you can arrange visits to the local community to see traditional costumes and jewelry making. You may also want to visit the Batwa (Pygmy) families in the area. Village walks are available for a nominal price. Locally produced craft items can be purchased from the park tourist office, local craft shops and Lodge gift shops.
- First and foremost no one with a communicable disease such as flu, diarrhea is allowed to enter the park.
- Secondly, stay together in a tight group while with gorillas hence they should not be surrounded.
- Distance of about 5m between you and the gorillas should be considered. In case they approach you move back slowly.
- Flashes while photographing the gorillas are not allowed.
- Smoking and eating when with the gorillas or in a closer distance of about 200m is not allowed.
- Turn away from the gorillas if you need to sneeze or cough and you should cover your nose or mouth in the process.
- Human feaces should be buried in minimum of one foot deep and secure that the whole is properly covered.
- All litter must be must be collected and disposed off from the park.
- Persons below the age of 15 are not allowed to track gorillas.
- Avoid making loud noises or sudden movements when with the gorillas.
- You are given strictly one hour to track the gorillas.
- Your group must not be more than 8 tourists and must all be over 15years of age.
- You should observe all instructions from your guide.
Accommodation; we have several lodge, forest camps and guest houses in nearby areas where one can do a short drive to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Have a look at where to stay in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
How to get to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.
Bwindi is located in southwestern Uganda 530km from Kampala. The park can be reached by road from several directions.
The Buhoma entrance: This route passes the park in the south Ishasha sector, providing viewing of famous tree- climbing lions. Bwindi is 160km from Mweya and 64km from Ishasha.
Kampala-Kanungu-Buhoma-Kabale. The 414km drive to Kabale follows murram road the whole way, and it typically takes about 5-6hours a bit longer after rain. Hence follow the Kisoro road for 18km. The next section which follows winding murram roads for 120km passes through Kanungu and takes 4-5 hours. A 4WD is required.
Kampala-Ntungamo-Rukungiri-Kihihi: This is the most inexpensive and most direct route from Kampala. It follows tarmac roads to Rukungiri at about 390km followed by 82km on murram to Buhoma.
Kampala- Kabale-Ruhija-Buhoma: This drive way takes about 98km on murram road and takes about 3-4 hours. It should be noted however this route is in a poor condition and should only be attempted with a 4WD vehicle. Note: this route is not frequently used by the public.
From Kampala: Coming directly from Kampala is the best route to Bwindi it entails following the surfaced road towards Kabale as far as Ntungamo roughly 60km past Mbarara. At Ntungamo you need to turn right on the 45km road to Rukungiri. From here you need to follow a murram road in a roughly westerly direction through Kyambura to Kanungu where you converge with the route from Kabale described above.
Public transport: A bus runs daily from Kampala to Butogota from where a taxi can be hired. For the last 17km to Buhoma, there are is no public transport to Nkuringo but vehicles can be hired in Kisoro.
Air: Travelers who need air services can fly from Kampala or Entebbe (Kajjansi airfield) to a modern tarmac air strip at Kisoro. Also visitors to Buhoma chatter planes to the grass Kayonza airstrip.
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