Must Do Adventures and activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Must Do Adventures and activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

What are the must do adventures and activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park? Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a unique and rare wildlife habitat located in the southwestern part of Uganda, along the western border of the Democratic Republic of Congo next to Virunga National Park at the edge of the Albertine Rift. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is approximately 331 square kilometres on land. This unique habitat is characterized by rolling hills and thick vegetation types that are known as the ancient forest of Bwindi which is impenetrable. Also, Gorilla trekking is a major activity in the game park given its favourable available conditions for Mountain Gorillas to survive. This unique, thrilling, and fulfilling experience leads one to appreciate the hidden treasures of Uganda the Pearl of Africa

Known amongst the largest and most attractive national parks in Uganda on both lowland and montane forests, the park can only be accessed on foot. The park has a variety of flora and fauna with different wildlife species such as the Golden Monkeys, Duikers, forest Elephants, Patas Monkeys, Guereza Colobus, Black and White Colobus, different butterfly species and unique bird species such as the shy Shelley’s Crimsonwing, Chaplin’s Flycatcher, Grauer’s Broadbill and the vocal Regal Sunbird among others.

Some of the must-do adventures any traveller should not miss while in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

  • Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park inhabits half of the world’s population of endangered Mountain Gorillas [340] hence Gorilla trekking is the major tourist activity in Bwindi’s Impenetrable Forest, 36 Gorilla families in the park, 17 Gorilla families are habituated and trained to get used to the presence of human beings. Also, only 8 people are allowed to track each gorilla family mainly to prevent the risk of passing diseases from tourists to the humble giants.  Each visitor should maintain seven meters away from the Gorillas. In case of a situation where the Gorilla is closing in, one should be alert enough to move away and also follow all the guide’s instructions. While at Gorilla Trekking, everyone should endeavour to keep their voices low while communicating to keep the visited Gorilla family relaxed. No visitor is allowed to drink or feed while with the Gorillas.  This activity starts with a briefing at the visitor’s centre very early in the morning, each visitor is assigned a ranger and is allowed to hire a porter who will help the visitor with carrying the backpack, it will take about 2-4 hours to locate a gorilla family and visitors are only allowed to spend 1hour with the gorillas.

Mountain Gorilla drinking water from a river

For anyone to enjoy trekking the Gorillas, he/she must obtain a Gorilla tracking permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority which is the governing body in charge of all game parks in Uganda. A Gorilla permit currently costs $800 including park entrance, park rangers, and great memories in general. Access to the forest sectors of the park including Rushaga, Buhoma, Ruhija, and Nkuringo will guarantee a memorable Gorilla Trekking experience. This unique park and activity can take place amongst multiple Gorilla trekking families and sectors, so tracking gorillas twice depends on one’s interest since all Gorilla families and sectors are open for gorilla trackers each day. An individual may decide to track different Gorilla families in different sectors of the game park. One should note that each Gorilla family is unique and has several attractive features for example multiple/many family members, slow forest movement, and baby Gorillas. However, different tourists prefer different choices as some may prefer travelling long distances while others may not be able or prefer trekking for long distances. Some prefer watching and observing female Gorillas with their baby Gorillas.

In 2006, a Mountain Gorilla census was carried out in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the number of gorillas had increased to over 300 mountain Gorillas. Also, it was noted that the loss of their habitat is the greatest threat to these humble giant wild apes. Craig Stanford researched Mountain Gorillas of Bwindi and he says that the diet of Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi is high in fruits compared to the Virunga Mountain Gorillas.

Furthermore, he stated that the elder Gorillas called silverbacks climb trees to feed on fruits just like the chimpanzees. Also given the size of the park, the Mountain Gorillas of Bwindi travel further per day than the Virunga Mountain Gorillas. He concludes that Gorillas of Bwindi are more likely to display their nests in trees.

Mountain Gorillas are listed on the IUCN Red List of endangered species with a total population of 650 members. Currently, there are no Mountain Gorillas in captivity as previously recorded in the 1960s and 1970s.

Other activities carried out in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park include;

  • Community Tourism

This is another exciting activity involving invigorating cultural encounters which usually include visits to the Nkuringo Cultural Centre and the Nkuringo Community Conservation and Development Foundation, Tours such as the Rubuguri village walk, the Buhoma Community tour, and the rewarding Buniga Forest walk. forexample visits to Ride 4 women

  • working on sewing projects at Ride 4 women

    The Batwa Forest Experience

This is also another exciting and rewarding cultural experience in Bwindi. The activity involves visitors hiking and tracking down the Batwa pygmies who are believed to be the first dwellers of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. They are naturally hunters and fruit gatherers and lived in harmony with nature for centuries. This small group of pygmies stays around the forest and in every region Rushaga, Ruhija, Buhoma, and Nkuringo. The Bwindi Batwa Experience costs 100 dollars and 80 dollars in the neighbouring Mgahinga National Park. Visitors shall learn the different ways of the Batwa pygmies such as hunting, fruit gathering, storytelling and entertainment.

  • Gorilla Habituation Experience in Rushaga

This unique and exciting activity can only take place in Uganda as a tourist activity. The Gorilla habituation experience involves tracking down gorillas and getting them used to human presence alongside professional researchers and primatologists. Unlike Gorilla trekking, Visitors spend 4 hours with the mountain gorillas during the Gorilla habituation experience. A Gorilla habituation permit currently costs 1500 dollars and is offered by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. There are currently two gorilla families undergoing habituation in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

  • Birding in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest comprises diverse habitats making it a perfect home for a diversity of bird species. The park `boasts over 350 different bird species, including 24 Albertine Rift Endemics,76 Guinea-Congo biome bird species, and 68 Afro-Tropical highland biome bird species making it a bird watcher’s paradise. Some of the rarely sighted bird species include Dusky Crimsonwing, Rwenzori Batis, the beautiful Regal Sunbird, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Red-chested Cuckoo, Red-headed Bluebill, Handsome Spurfowl, Ross’s Turaco, African and Grauer’s Broadbill, Western Bar-tailed Trogon, Neumann’s Warbler, Rwenzori Blue-headed Sunbird, Ansorge’s, Cabanis’s , Kakamega, Toro Olive, Honeyguide and Plain Greenbul, the unusual Jameson’s Antpecker, Many-coloured, Doherty’s and Bocage’s Bushshrike, the stunning Scarlet-throated Black Bee-eater, Chestnut-winged, Wallers, Slender-billed, Narrow-tailed and Stuhlmann’s Starling, Oriole Finch, Grauer’s Warbler, Banded Prinia, Grey-winged and Blue-shouldered Robin-chat, Equatoral Akalat, White-bellied Robin-chat, Bronze-naped Pigeon among others.

  • Bar-tailed Trogon in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

    Mountain bike rides in the Buhoma Area

Get on a guided village walk while on a bike, a Birding bike safari which involves bird watching while riding a bicycle. Ride along the Ivy River Trail into the forest. Mountain bike rentals are offered by a community support group called Ride 4 a woman.

  • Hiking in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and park

Hiking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park happens on different unique trails which include the Ivy River Trail starting from the Nkuringo park headquarters or Buhoma and is 14 km, the Kashasha Trail in the Buhoma sector, the Batwa cultural experience trail, the Munyaga Waterfall Trail which lies outside the national park, the Mubwindi Swamp Trail which is a birder’s paradise in the Ruhija sector, the Bamboo Trail in the Ruhija sector offers a variety of bird species and plant speceis, the Muzabajiro Loop Trail in Buhoma that ascends to the Rukubira hill, the Habinyanja Trail in Buhoma sector is also a perfect trail for bird watchers, especially at Habinyanja swamp, the Rushura Hill Trail ascends to the Rushura hill which is the highest point in Buhoma and the Rusizi River Trail which is one of the trails for birders as different bird species can be best spotted here.

On the whole, these humble, unique giant apes are and can be visited throughout the year-round, although the dry season is more favourable since the roads are more accessible. The park retains much of its treasures through conservation and local community support. This reduces pressure on the park resources from the community. For example, the coffee in Buhoma is by locals, a pro-poor tourism initiative supported and funded by visitors.

What is the best time to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?

The most preferable time to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is from June to September as well as from December to February. Although the park can be accessed any time throughout the year, this furthermore calls for low turnup seasons hence a drop in the price of the gorilla permits. Generally, there is a slight difference in the seasons.

How to access Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park can be accessed by both Air and Road means of transportation. By road, the park is 6-8 hours from Kampala through Mbarara to Bwindi. By air, the park is 1 hour away from the Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kihihi Airfield or Kisoro Airstrip.

Where to find accommodation while at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park?

Apart from the various activities and breathtaking attractions, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offers a wide range of Lodging and accommodation facilities that cater for all travellers ranging from high-end luxurious to low-budget travellers. Some of the notable lodging facilities around the park include Chameleon Hill Lodge, Buhoma Lodge, Clouds Mountain Lodge, Bwindi Lodge etc. For luxurious tourists Gorilla Mist Camp, Haven Lodge and Broadbill Forest Camp among others for budget travellers.