Bwindi National National Park is situated in south western Uganda, the national park is positioned along the borders of Rwanda and democratic republic of Congo that is close to the Virunga mountain ranges and on the edge of the Albertine rift valley. The national park covers an area of about 331 square kilometers of both the lowland and the montane forest which can be only accessed on foot. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park was designated as a United Nations Educational, cultural and scientific organization by World Heritage site.
Bwindi national park is sheltered by hillsides and covered by one of the oldest and most naturally different rainforest which are for long time ago over 25000 years and consists of 400 species of plants .the area is mainly common for its population of endangered mountain gorillas about 320 mountain gorillas live in this park, it is roughly half of the population of the gorillas in the entire world. Among 320 gorillas there are a number of habituated gorillas which can be tracked.
The forest also provides inhabitants for over 120 mammals such as the antelopes, elephants and this also consist of a number of primates such as chimpanzee, colobus monkeys, baboons an d so many others. There are over 350 different bird species that includes 23 of Albertine rift endemics .around 220 species of butterfly lives within the forest,27 species of frogs, geckos ,chameleon and many more others. The national park is one of the most diverse forests with over 1,000 flowering plant species, of which comprises of over 163 species of trees and 104 ferns.
The national park was divided into different regions from where habituated gorillas can be found. Among the regions includes Buhoma region that consist of 3 groups of habituated gorillas (Rushegura, Habinyanja and Mubare), Ruhija 3 gorilla group (Bitukura,Kyaguriro and Oruzongo),Rushanga 5groups of gorillas(Nshongi, Busingye, Kahugye ,Bweza and Mishaya), and Nkuringo with Nkuringo gorilla group
Around 1932, Bwindi impenetrable forest was nominated as Crown forest reserve with two different blocks .there was southern block that was nominated as Kasatora crown reserve and the nor then labeled as Kayonza crown reserve. These two crowns were found in one region covering an area of 207 square kilometers, later alone in 1942, the two crowns were joined up together and expanded and they came to be known as impenetrable central crown forest. This became anew preserved region sheltering over 298 square kilometer under the combined management of forest departments and the Government of Uganda.
Around 1964, more extra efforts were added to give an additional protection over the region to protect the mountain gorillas that were living in the forest; the area was therefore nominated as animal sanctuary. Later in 1966, the two forest reserves were added to the main reserve which expanded the area about 321 kilometers, the place was still preserved as forest reserve and animal sanctuary.
The impenetrable central forest reserve together with Rwenzori mountains reserve and Mgahinga gorilla reserve, they were titled as National parks and Bwindi impenetrable central forest reserve become to known as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which was covering an area of 330.8 kilometers (127.7 sq miles).this national park was acknowledged to protect range of different animal species more so the mountain gorillas.
The declaration of the area as National park created a big impact on the pygmy people the Batwa who had occupied most of the park area and they were no more allowed to enter into the park. The National park became one of the major tourist attractions in Uganda by 1993and it was put on the list of World Heritage Centre. The management team of the park was later changed. Uganda National Parks was baptized as Uganda Wildlife Authority that is now responsible for the management of all national parks in Uganda.
When to travel to Uganda for gorilla tracking.
Uganda is known as a entire round travel destination to any of the visitors who are interested in adventuring Uganda. Because of the strategic location of the country, the favorable climate and the position of the equator in the middle of the country makes it the best country destination to travel too. Other more factors such as Lake Victoria, the unique weather conditions makes Uganda the perfect country throught the year.
Uganda has two seasons throught the year, it has two rainy seasons; the short season beginning from October to November and the long rainy season from Mid-march to the end of May. It also has two dry seasons the first season starting from June to September and the second season from December to February .therefore best time, the best months to travel to Uganda would be from June to September and December to February and from June to September.
The average temperatures of Uganda are at 21.5 C and 71 F, these also fall at night time to about 54 F which disturbs the altitude. Rainfall in Uganda varies from 1000-2000mm annually. Although, throughout the year the skies in Uganda are clear which supports most safari vacations. The variations in climate have caused changes in weather patterns hence making it harder to predict the seasons of the tourism year. Therefore you can travel to Uganda any day any time.
Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi.
Trekking gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable forest is one of the profound activities carried out here, it is the highlight to most of the tourists who come to Uganda and they are interested in tracking gorillas. Uganda the pearl of Africa has got wide range of national parks which have got attractive natural wonders, come adventure Uganda and have a life time safari adventure. Uganda is a very safe country and more security is adhered in these national parks. The park comprises of four regions where 12 families or group of habituated gorillas can be tracked and one group is set aside for research , below are the regions together with different groups of gorillas that can be tracked.
This region is located in the north of the national park and it comprises of 3 habituated groups of gorillas as shown below.
Rushegura gorilla family.
This group was established in 2002 after I silver back from Habinyanja group had decided to move away.it comprised of 12 members together with 1 silver back and 5 females.it is a very peaceful group and easy to track although previously it could move to Democratic republic of Congo and later return back to Bwindi.it name was got from tree specie known a “Ebishegura” which was everywhere around Buhoma region.
Habinyanja gorilla family.
This group is comprised of 17 members and I silver back.it was the first group of gorillas to be tracked by tourists. The name was derived from the word “Nyanja “which meant water body in the local language.it is one of the most interesting group to track .the members are so playful and there is a lot of comedy and disorder among the members which is as result of continuous fights among the dominant silvers backs who wants to be the leader of the group.
Mubare gorilla family.
This is composed of 12 members and 1 dominant silver back known as Ruhondeza. The group was habituated in 1993 and inhabits in Mubare hills and deep inside the Bwindi forest.at the beginning the group had around 12 members and later alone the size increased to 18 members, but due continues struggles among the group members and movements, the group lost some of its members and apparently they are like 12 members in the family.
The region is the east of Bwindi impenetrable national park. The area consist of 3 group of gorillas as shown below.
Bitukura gorilla family.
The group is made up of 12 members and 1 dominant silver back. The name was derived from river where they were sighted first.it is a very calm group and very simple to be tracked, it has 4 giant silver backs together with other playful youths, they have a close relationship and they normally held meetings or get together.
Oruzongo gorilla family.
This has 15 members together with 2 silver backs.it is one of the newly established gorilla family in Bwindi forest which was permitted to be tracked in 2011.th group is also very attractive to track because of its playful juveniles that are more energetic to defend the group.
Kyaguriro gorilla family.
The group consists of 19 members that include 2 silver backs. This is a group that was habituated and set aside for research purposes in the park.
The region is found in the south of Bwindi impenetrable national park.it has 5 groups of gorilla that are explained below.
Nshongi gorilla group.
The group has 6 members together with1 silver back. The group consisted of about 25 members but later it was split up hence remaining 6 members.it was one of the biggest habituated group and opened to be tracked in 2009.its name was got from Nshongi river where the first gorilla was seen.it led by a young silver back gorilla known as Nshongi.
Busingye gorilla group.
This is made up of 8 members that includes 1 silver back.it is one of the latest family formed after it had split off from the Kahugye family .it was opened for tracking after its habituation in 2011.
Kahugye gorilla group.
The group is composed of 19 members that include its two dominant silver backs known as Rumansi plus the 2 old gorillas named as Rwigi and Ruhamuka.in 2011 that when the group was announced to be tracked, this was a largest group where Busingye gorilla family came from.
The group was formed in 2010 when silver back Mishaya decided to leave Nshongi group with 6 members and Mishaya the dominant silver back. The group has 12 members now with 3 infants and Mishaya a giant great fighter who have managed to defend his group.
Bweza gorilla family.
This is one of the Nshongi gorilla groups which were the largest habituated group in Bwindi. The group break off from Mishaya gorilla group with 6 members and I silver back, the group currently has 11 members with 1 silver back.it was also ready to be tracked by 2014.
It is found in the south western of the park and very close to Rushanga. The region has 1 group of gorillas that can be tracked.
Nkuringo gorilla group.
The Nkuringo group is comprised of 14 members together with 2 silver backs. The group was baptized after the Rukiga word for “round hill” and was propelled in 2004.the group used to destroy crops and other products of the local community and this is the reason why the group was habituated.by habituating the group, the local people also wanted to benefit from the tourists who would come to track the group. The group was led by dominant silver back Nkuringo and later gave birth to twins Muhozi and katungi who suddenly passed away at 1 and half age. The group has the most loving young gorillas who at times reach out to touch and see the tourists.
Bwindi can be easily accessed in two ways either by air from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip or by road from Kampala.
From Entebbe, there are programmed airlifts to Kihihi which is near to the northern area of Bwindi and also airlifts to Kisoro which is nearby the Southern part of Bwindi. Flights to Kisoro only depart in the morning while Kihihi has got both morning and afternoon partings from Entebbe. You can also do contract flights from Kajjansi Airstrip to either Kihihi or kisoro.
By road, there are options that include;
From Kampala to Kabale connect to Kanungu and reach Buhoma which has got a good a tarmac road until Kabale for around 414km spending about 6 to 8 hours and then link to a murram road via Kanungu and Kanyantorogo for roughly 120km to reach Buhoma. For the final itinerary, it is highly suggested to have a 4WD vehicle and this ride can take roughly 4 to5 hours.
Kampala-Kabale-Ruhija-Buhoma which takes the same direction as showed above apart from the Kabale-Ruhija-Buhoma section is about 95km on a murram road which is roughly 3 to 4 hours to reach there; it’s advisable to use a 4 WD which is a bit faster.
Kampala-Kabale-Nkuringo continues with similar direction as mentioned above to reach Kabale and this will take around 105 km about 4-5 hours’ drive on a mountainous murram road from Kabale to reach Nkuringo. Tourists like to have an overnight stay in Kisoro which is about 80km from Kabale and in the morning proceed to Nkuringo for gorilla tracking.
From Kampala through Ntungamo to Rukungiri reach Kihihi and then connect Buhoma is viewed as the fastest and straight of all the roads from Kampala and follows a tarmac road to Rukungiri about 390km shadowed by murram roads to Buhoma for roughly 82 km.
There is also a road that goes via Queen Elizabeth National Park through Kihihi and reaches to Buhoma driving through the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park well-known for the tree climbing lions. Most times this road is not preferred because of the bridge which keeps on breaking down.
Other more activities in Bwindi impenetrable forest.
Hiking/Nature Walks in Bwindi.
Bwindi is not only gorilla tracking in the forest there are also nature walks or hikes within the forests where we have got six major hiking/walking trails .this will enable and=venture and explore the forest of Bwindi.
Muyanga Waterfall Walk, this starts from Buhoma near River Ivi connect to Nkuringo trail and concludes in the astonishing views of the falls dropping 33 meters long.
Rushura Hill Walk, this goes through one forest connecting two countries. On a vibrant day you can see Lakes Edward and George and the Rwenzori Mountains together with pointed peaks of the Virunga Volcanoes.
Muzubijiro Loop ,this is just is a 6km walk across a hill, where you will meet a number primates along the trial and different birds species plus enjoying the beautiful views of Virunga mountain ranges.
The Ivi River Walk is .this is also 14km and takes roughly seven hours. The trail goes through a place identified as Mukempunu that means “a place of pigs” where wild pigs can frequently be found.
The Buhoma-Nkuringo Trail this takes roughly 3 to 4 hours, and crosses right through the park, joining the two villages and giving striking views of the hazy hillsides as you climb the hills on the way to Nkuringo. You can leave our luggage with your driver, who will meet you at the other side. This trail can also be accomplished as part of the Ivi River Walk.
The Habinyanja (Railegh) this Trajectory consumes only 3 to 4 hours. After adventuring river Munyaga , it takes in a properly steep climb of the Habigorogoro and Riyovi Ridge overseeing Buhoma River. Found along this trail is the legendry “African Corner” baptized after a rock piece portraying a map of Africa. Succeeding the steep climb, strong climbers can enkoy a more relaxed gentle slope to the enormous Habinyanja wetland. Visitors on this trek should watch out for the Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Black Duck and Black Bee Eaters, among others.
Birding in Bwindi
The diverse habitations of Uganda’s oldest forest mean it is the perfect home for a diversity of birds, with 350 species documented, counting 23 endemics (90% of all Albertine Rift endemics) such as the Blue-headed Sunbird and Short-tailed Warbler as well as seven IUCN red statistics listed species. Calm to find are the African Emerald Cuckoo, White-tailed Blue Flycatchers Bulbul, African Blue and and Red-headed Bluebill.
Birding takes place along the main trail, the Buhoma Waterfall Trail and besides the bamboo zone and Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija
Cultural Encounters in Bwindi
Buhoma Community Tours.
Overseeing the magnificent hillsides of Bwindi Impenetrable forest, with mist spinning over the peaks, Buhoma is really histrionic scenery for your cultural tour!
The three-hour village walk starts with a visit to the handcraft shop marketing handmade artifacts such as fabrics, beeswax candles and wood carvings, all manufactured by gifted local craftsmen and women. The bordering Batwa community achieves songs and dances about their former life in the forest, presenting you to another exclusive local culture. You will also encounter the traditional doctor who gives medication to patients with therapeutic plants, and the teachers and pupils of the local primary school. Lastly, you can learn how bananas are used to manufacture juice, beer and gin – and taste the results!
Continue with a visit to fund the local development schemes such as a secondary school, maize mill and microfinance circle, and the Batwa obtains all earnings from their presentations.
Nkuringo Community Conservation and Development Foundation (NCCDF)
Established in a deluxe hillside neighboring Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with theatrical views towards Congo, Nkuringo is a delightful place to stopover for those who want both a cultural experience and attractive setting.
A visit to Nicholas the blacksmith reverses time to the Stone Age with the sound of sheepskin roars disgorging air into a charcoal-fired furnace, from which Nicholas catches out red hot metal and strikes it into tools; from knives to machetes. Sesilia salutes you into her family a series of traditional huts covering a millet-grinding stone, cooking pots and apparatus for cleansing local waragi banana gin. Pena is the village´s traditional healer who uses natural plants to make tea, creams and herbal powders that cure a range of diseases.
Cycling/Mountain Biking in Bwindi.
Mountain biking in Bwindi starts from Buhoma at the park headquarters and follows the trial to River Ivi. Expect to encounter a number of wildlife such as red tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys and bushbucks that normally stands along the trail which is 13 meters long. The morning group will take roughly 6 to 7 hours, mountain biking is normally organized by Buhoma community rest camp under the drive for women community development initiative.
Where to stay.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park has got a wide range of accommodation from where one can spend a night, the accommodation are arranged in three different categories that is say luxury, mid -range and budget accommodation. You will select any of your preferred accommodation depending on your financial capability and the location of the region where you will track the gorillas; this will be in according to your organized itinerary with us. Below is a list of accommodation in their different gorilla tracking areas.
Where to Stay in Buhoma Area
Buhoma Community Rest Camp
Lake Kitandara chameleon hill.
Lake Kitandara Bwindi Camp
.Bwindi View Bandas
CTPH Gorilla Conservation Camp
Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp
Gorilla Friends Lodge
Mahogany springs camp
Bwindi Guest House
Volcanoes Safaris Bwindi Lodge.
Eco Marvels Gorilla Resort
Jungle View Lodge
Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge
Nkuringo Gorilla Camp
Nyundo Valley Hill Bandas
Ruhija Gorilla Safari Lodge
Ruhija Gorilla Mist Camp
Trekkers Tavern cottages
Gift of Nature Lodge
Ruhija Gorilla Resort
Ruhija Gorilla Friends Resort & Campsite
Ruhija Community Rest Camp
Wagtail Eco-Safari Camp
Gorilla Safari Lodge