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Responsible Tourism Activities – Bwindi

By | Safaris in Uganda

As tourism continues to increase it is important that tourism areas are not adversely affected by tourism activities. All over the world, we have seen what happens when conservation and tourism don’t work hand in hand. Two prominent examples of this are The Great Barrier Reef in Australia and Maya Bay in Thailand. Both are examples of the destruction of natural habitats by tourism activities! The destruction of tourism zones can occur in many ways and if local people who live in and around tourism zones don’t associate positively with tourism then it can turn in to intentional and unintentional damage to the area.

The primary reason for the introduction of these activities was to promote local economic development through gorilla tourism. Uganda and Bwindi, in particular, welcomes many tourists every year, these activities have been set up to assist the local people who live around Bwindi to be able to also benefit directly from the visitors to Uganda. The ultimate goal is to convince tourists that there is more to Bwindi than just the iconic mountain gorillas and it is worth spending an extra night in Bwindi to partake in Responsible Tourism activities that help benefit local people. As we work towards that aim get in touch with Let’s Go Travel to see who you can plug in these incredible activities into your itineraries.

Making local people part of the tourism experience is key to ensuring that these zones are preserved and protected for the future. The Responsible Tourism Activities in Bwindi tries to address these issues by upskilling men and woman to enable them to provide products and services that can be bought by tourists who visit the area. The direct benefit being that the local people see a correlation in protecting Bwindi as they are gaining from its existence, the current generation can then reinforce this message of protection and conservation into the hearts and minds of the next generation, who will then also begin to have a positive association with Bwindi. It is important that these messages come from within the community as the reception and uptake of such messages are critical to conservation longevity.

1 – Uniquely Ugandan Baskets

One of the Responsible Tourism Activities is Basket weaving, not only can you purchase baskets that are made by ladies who live within Bwindi but you can actually participate and spend some time learning how to weave these baskets. What is so special about these baskets is that they have been designed in conjunction with a Ugandan Artist called Sanaa Gateja, who was responsible for providing a “weaving boot camp” where a number of ladies from Bwindi came to Kampala and spent a week with Sanaa as he upskilled them with a view to creating more attractive, robust baskets and a better quality than those previously made, therefore giving the baskets more of a chance of being sold. There are two locations where you can participate in this activity:

Ride for a Woman in Buhoma & Change a life Bwindi in Ruhija. Both these organisations are women-led social enterprises that work with the local community to help and empower women.


2 – Nature, Culture and Life Style Trails – Bwindi Specialist Guides Group

The second Responsible Tourism Activity is a set of three guided trails in Bwindi.

Traditional Rural Life and Batwa Trail – Buhoma Sector

Rubuguri Origins & Honey Trail – Rubuguri Town ( in-between Nkiringo and Rushaga )

Reformed Poachers Trail – Rubuguri Town ( in-between Nkiringo and Rushaga )

What is unique about these trails is that they are curated by a group of guides who have been specifically trained by Johnnie Kamugisha who is a leading figure within the Uganda Safari Guides Association and is the President of the Uganda Birds Club. This means that the guides are better equipped to deliver a more immersive experience that will leave you with a better understanding of the lives and culture of the people who live in the Bwindi. The guides all live locally to the areas that they work and were all previously guides who although volunteered had to be assessed alongside many others to qualify for this particular initiative.

All three trails are also mapped so that anyone who would like to do the trail can see what is entailed beforehand. You will also find more information on the training process involved in both activities by clicking here.

So if you are planning on coming to Bwindi and would like to participate in activities that will directly benefit local people then please get in touch.

I would like to thank the following institutions who worked together to make all of this possible:


Darwin Initiative (Defra)




Shoebill Stork

Birdwatching in Uganda

By | Safaris in Uganda

Birdwatching in Uganda is a surprisingly underrated experience seeing that over 50% of all bird species in Africa and be found in Uganda! The primary reason why Birdwatching in Uganda is so good is due to the incredibly diverse landscape within Uganda. The country is blessed with Lakes, Rivers, Marshlands, Forests, Savanah plains and Mountains not to mention the temperate climate. Each area is home to a whole host of different birds species, in fact, the total number of bird species in Uganda is over 1,000!

Despite there being so many birds in Uganda many birdwatches visit to see the following 10 birds:

  • Green-breasted Pitta
  • Standard-winged Nightjar.
  • Doherty’s Bushshrike.
  • Short-tailed Warbler
  • Bar-tailed Trogon.
  • African Green Broadbill.
  • Shelley’s Crimsonwing.
  • Black-breasted Barbet.
  • Great Blue Turaco.
  • Shoebill Stork

The best places to do Birdwatching in Uganda depends on the specific birds you are looking for, but most of the National parks in Uganda have a varied enough landscape to enable you to see a whole host of birds. The most popular places, however, are listed below:

  • Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
  • Mgahinga National Park
  • Kibale Forest National Park
  • Budongo Forest
  • Maramgambo Forest
  • Mambamba Swamp
  • Murchison Falls National Park

With so many birds and so many places to see them it can be quite daunting, but to keep it simple, all you have to do is follow one rule. Find out what type of area you will be visiting as this is the main factor that will determine the bird species you will see. The landscape in Uganda can be broadly categorised into the following types with each one home to a differing set of birds species:

  • Forests
  • Savannah Plains
  • Wetlands
Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda - Eating Bread Fruit

Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda

By | Safaris in Uganda

Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda can be done in the early morning, mid-morning or in the afternoon. The trek itself can take anywhere between one hour and four hours depending on where the chimpanzees nested the previous night. A chimpanzee trekking group can only have a maximum of 8 tourists. In Kibale Forest, the trek begins at Kayanchu Gate. A set of Uganda Wildlife Authority ( UWA ) Rangers set off earlier than the trekking party to track the Chimpanzees. These rangers send word back to the trekking groups who themselves are guided through the forest by UWA guides. Once the chimpanzees are located you are only allowed one hour within their company, this ensures that the chimpanzees don’t get too accustomed to human contact. Chimpanzees live in troupes which can grow up to 100 strong, but they don’t always move around in troupes of that size. Remember Chimpanzees are not monkeys, they are apes which means that 98% of their DNA is the same as humans. Because of this genetic closeness Chimpanzees also share a similar physiology to humans and can catch similar diseases to us, but they haven’t built up the same immunity to them as we have and therefore a simple cold has a huge effect on them. They are omnivores as they eat both plants and animals and only have two major predators, Leopards and Humans!

Travellers come from all over the world to do Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda as it has the highest concentration of Chimpanzees in the world and they are not just limited to one area. The most common place to see them in Kibale Forest National Park which is known as the primate capital of the world as there are around 1,000 chimpanzees in the park as well as 13 primate species! The other areas where chimpanzee trekking can be done are Budongo Forest which is within the Murchison Falls National Park Conservation Area, Kyambura Gorge within Queen Elizabeth National Park and the lesser known Kalinzu Forest. Uganda is fortunate to have the Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary a place where orphaned chimpanzees are cared for and can live with other chimpanzees.

The park has a population of Elephants that travel to and from Queen Elizabeth National Park, other mammals include, Duikers, Bushbucks, Sitatungas, Forest Hogs and Buffalo. Also present are Leopards, African Golden Cats, Servals and mongooses. There are also around 325 species of birds in the park some of which cannot be found anywhere else in Uganda.

Kibale Forest National Park was gazetted as a forest reserve in 1932 and acquired National Park status in 1993. Today, it ranks among Africa’s foremost research sites. Kibale Forest National Park t is located in Southwestern Uganda stretches over 795sq. km of magnificent tropical rainforest interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp. The park adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park to the south to create a 180km-long migration corridor for wildlife between Ishasha in the remote southern corner of Queen Elizabeth National Park and Sebitoli in the north of Kibale.

Silverback Gorilla

Gorilla trekking or Gorilla Tracking?

By | Safaris in Uganda

On the 31st March 2018, it was revealed that there were over 1,000 gorillas living in the Virunga Massif  ( Volcanoes National Park, The Mekino sector of Virunga National Park and Mgahinga National Park) and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. This is a jump from the previously recorded figure of 880 in 2011 and is a really positive story for mountain gorilla conservation.

In Uganda, you are able to go and see mountain gorillas in their own habitat in one of two places, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest which has 15 habituated gorilla families spread over four sectors and Mgahinga National Park which has 1 habituated gorilla family. Uganda is well known for this activity, but what is called? Is it gorilla trekking, gorilla tracking or is it both?

Trekking can be defined as: ” A form of walking undertaken with a specific purpose of exploring and enjoying the scenery, usually taking place on trails and areas of unspoiled wilderness”. Now, you can’t argue that a walk in either of the two National Parks wouldn’t fit this description. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and is home to over 160 tree species, 100 fern species and over 1,000 flowering species. The park has a rugged topography characterised by narrow valley and steep hills, all this making it a great place for trekking. Whereas Mganinga National Park is home to 3 extinct volcanoes, ecologically diverse forests and endemic plant species. A trek in either of these National Parks would be pretty amazing when it comes to exploring scenery wouldn’t you say?


Tracking can be defined as: ” The act or process of following something or someone ” and in this case, the principal attraction are the mountain gorillas. However, both National Parks are home to more than just mountain gorillas, there are a whole host of other mammals including, Chimpanzees, Monkeys, Forest Elephants, Giant Forest Hogs, Jackals as well and Golden and Civet cats, not to mention the 350 bird and 200 butterfly species. So, if you enter the park with the intention of following any of the forest animals, especially the mountain gorillas,  then you are also most definitely tracking.

So it seems to me that you trek to explore the forest scenery and you track to locate the mountain gorillas. Either way, there are not many places in the world where you are able to find such an incredible range of habitat and wildlife. So if you are thinking of a place to go on holiday where you can go trekking and tracking then Uganda is just the place.

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