Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
The Ultimate Gorilla Experience
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is most famously known as the home of half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas and is one of the most visited parks in Uganda. The park is a dense primaeval forest located in the remote southwest of Uganda, on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley across from the DRC.
It is believed that Uganda’s first people, the Batwa have inhabited this forest for 400,000 years, and many continue to do so.
The Park was first designated as Crown Forest Reserves in 1932; it changed name to Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve in 1964, and was finally designated as a national park and renamed Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in 1991. In 1994, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bwindi means impenetrable a fitting description for the thick ground cover of ferns and vines and extensive bamboo and forest hardwoods that hinder direct access to the forest on foot.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is inhabited by 120 mammal species of which 10 are primates, 346 bird species and over 200 butterfly species. Forest hogs, forest elephants and numerous primates roam beneath the thick canopy of trees. The park’s afro-montane forest has more than 200 tree species, over 1,000 flowering plants and 100 species of fern, many of which cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa.
Still, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park remains best known for gorilla trekking, gorilla habituation experiences and incredible conservation efforts that have seen gorilla numbers increasing.
Uganda offers the highest number of gorilla families (20) that can be tracked in the wild, with 19 habituated in Bwindi and 1 family in Mgahinga. Gorilla Trekking in Uganda is one of the most exciting wildlife activities you can partake in. To get up close to one of our closest living relatives in their own environment is truly unique, so much so that going on safari in Uganda was featured in:
The Batwa are widely accepted as the original inhabitants of the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, and as one of Africa’s oldest surviving tribes. In Uganda, they are well known as the Batwa Pygmies, or the ‘keepers of the forest’, which was their home for thousands of years until only recently. They are Uganda’s oldest tribe whose existence in the forest caves and trees predates the Bantu, Nilotic and Sudanic migrations that brought Uganda’s other contemporary tribes.
The Batwa are a fascinating and unique people who for thousands of years have relied completely on nature and the forest for all their needs, free of all the trappings of the modern world that invaded Uganda in the late 19th century. Their unfortunate eviction from the forests in 1992 has left their culture, identity and language at threat from extinction.
Through the work of kind benefactors the Batwa are receiving some support in making the transition into lives outside the forest, and in preserving their knowledge and culture. It would be remiss for visitors to this part of Uganda to leave without experiencing these charming people and their intimate relationship with the forest.
The Bwindi Specialist Guide Group was set up as a direct result of the IIED and Darwin Foundation project mentioned above. International tourism professional Peter Nizette and Ugandan professional safari guide Johnnie Kamugisha trained a group of young 'Bwindi Specialist Guides' and helped them design and market three new walking trails that visit natural and cultural attractions.
One in Buhoma and two in Rubuguri. Each trail is an authentic reflection of the culture and traditions in the area and the guides who have been trained to an international standard are also from the are and therefore provide a unique insight as well as a personal view of the area. Please see below links to each of the trails:
Hiking enthusiasts can explore several guided hiking trails.
Munyanga River Trail – Excellent for birders.
Waterfall Trail – Great for spotting primates, butterflies and birds.
Muzabajiro Loop Trail – Climb up to Rukubira hill which has spectacular views of the Virunga ranges.
Rushura Hill Trail – Rushura hill, the highest in Bwindi at 1,915m
Ivy River Trail – From Buhoma to Nkuringo.
Kashasha River Trail – From Buhoma to Nkuringo.
Mbwindi Swamp Trail – Great for birders