Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Mountain Gorilla, Uganda gorilla safaris

Bwindi – The Impenetrable Forest

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has been declared a Natural World Heritage Site by UNSECO because of its incredibly diverse eco-system. The fern-rich, vine-covered canopies of this 321km2 Uganda safaris park shelter half of the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is renowned as one of the leading destinations for gorilla trekking in Africa – a place where, against so many odds, these highly endangered creatures have flourished. Tourists from all over the world flock to this remote park in Southwestern Uganda to walk with the gentle, giant Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat.

Expert local guides take them into the heart of this ancient rainforest in search of habituated gorilla families, whereupon they spend a magical hour with these great apes. The success rate of finding gorillas on a daily basis is 99%. And such is the positive impact of these conservation-driven gorilla treks that the mountain gorilla population is currently increasing.

Mountain gorilla with baby in the forest – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Mountain gorilla with baby in the forest

While the gorillas may be the stars, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest has so much to offer.

One of the best Africa safari stories that were captured by CNN is the fact that Bwindi Forest is among the top 25 most beautiful places to visit in the world.  

But this beauty cannot be appreciated until you consider at least a nature walk. You’ll also see more of the park’s other 120 mammal species and the 200 species of butterflies.

Bird watching is excellent too, with 350 recorded species, including 23 endemics. There are also opportunities to visit a Batwa community. The Batwa people were the original inhabitants of Bwindi Forest and were evicted from their environment when the national park was gazetted in 1991.

Location: Where Is Bwindi National Park?

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is situated in the southwest of Uganda. To the north lies Queen Elizabeth National Park (famous for its tree-climbing lions), to the south the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo lies along the western edge of the park.

The park is part of the East Africa’s Albertine Rift and has an altitudes ranging from 1,160 to 2,607 meters. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a destination on most Ugandan safari itineraries and combines easily with the country’s savannah reserves such as Lake Mburo, Queen Elizabeth, and Murchison Falls National Parks.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Is Divided Into Four Sectors, Named After The Surrounding Villages:

1. Buhoma Sector (Northern Bwindi)

Buhoma is the most visited sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It is also the largest of the four sections of the park. Buhoma offers a variety of accommodation at different levels, including luxury, midrange and budget. As the first area of Bwindi National Park to open to visitors, it is where the first gorilla family (Mubare) was habituated in 1992.

Besides gorilla trekking in Buhoma, you can also tour the neighboring local community villages, do bird watching or hike some of Africa’s most scenic forest trails. There is also an opportunity for Batwa Cultural Experience. The Batwa People were the original inhabitants of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. They were evicted from their natural environment when the national park was gazetted in 1991.Currently, there are 6 gorilla families in Buhoma, including:

  • Mubare Family: 9 members with 1 silverback
  • Habinyanja Family: 19 members with 1 silverback
  • Rushegura Family:13 individuals with 1 silverback
  • Katwe Family: 9 individuals with 1 silverback
  • Muyambi Family: 8 individuals with 1 silverback
  • Binyiindo Family: 7 members with 1 silverback and on final stages of habituation process

2. Ruhija Sector (Eastern Bwindi)

Usually accessed from Buhoma area, Ruhija Sector is the second most visited area in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park after Buhoma section. Ruhija sector offerss accommodation mainly in mid-range and budget options.

In addition to trekking the mountain gorillas, hiking enthusiasts can ascend to the top of Rwamunyonyi Peak – “the hill of many birds”. It is Bwindi’s highest point and offers breathtaking views. As its name suggests, the forests around Rwamunyonyi provide some of the greatest bird watching in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.

In Ruhija Sector, you also have an opportunity tour village community and meet some of the Batwa Pygmy People. The Batwa here offers demonstrations of the use of medicinal plants found in Bwindi forest and their other ancient survival skills practiced by them for thousands of years.

Although elephant sightings in Bwindi are uncommon, Ruhija offers the best chance of spotting one of these elusive grey ghosts. Ruhija currently has four habituated gorilla families, including:

  • Mukiza Family: 16 individuals with 1 silverback
  • Oruzogo/Kasumali Family: 11 members with 3 silverbacks
  • Kyaguliro Family: 10 members with 1 silverback
  • Bitukura Family: 13 members with 2 Silverbacks

3. Rushaga Sector (Southern Bwindi)

Rushaga Sector’s major drawcard of this section is that a gorilla habituation experience is offered for Bikyingi Gorilla Family. This special adventure allows guests to spend up to 4 hours with the gorilla family, rather than the standard 1 hour.

Rushaga also includes Lake Mutanda; you can set out on a canoe ride for an entirely different perspective of the stunning scenery.  The sector can be reached by road from a variety of lodges in the Rushaga/Mutanda/Kisoro (southern) side of Bwindi.  There are currently 9 gorilla families in Rushaga, including Kahungye – the largest of all the Bwindi gorilla families:

  • Kahungye Family: 25 members with 3 silverbacks
  • Kutu Family: 20 members with 2 silverbacks
  • Bweza Family: 14 members with 3 silverbacks
  • Posho Family: 13 members with 1 silverback
  • Mucunguzi Family: 13 members with 1 silverback
  • Shongi Family: 12 members with 1 silverback
  • Bikyingi Family: 11 members with 1 silverback
  • Busingye Family: 10 members with 1 silverback
  • Mishaya Family: 7 members with 1 silverback

4. Nkuringo Sector (Western Bwindi)

Nkuringo is the most scenic section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The dramatic landscape and spectacular views of the Virunga Volcanoes do come at a physical cost: this particular region is better suited to more physically active visitors.

The terrain of Nkuringo offers a tough hike, particularly the uphill trek to return to the trail head after viewing the gorillas. You can access this sector access is from a variety of budget, midrange and luxury lodges in Nkuringo/Lake Mutanda areas. Nkuringo currently has three habituated gorilla families, including:

  • Nkuringo Family: 12 members – Blackback currently in charge
  • Bushaho Family: 11 members with 1 silverback
  • Christmas Family: 7 members with 1 silverback

Gorilla Trekking In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

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