“Darkness”, that’s what Bwindi means. And while you take a hike through this dark, green and magnificent forest you will surely understand the implications of this name. Standing amidst the forest, the canopy of whose primitive trees, the sun’s rays hardly penetrate…you will soon realize why it is also called Impenetrable. Bwindi Forest is one of the few forests in Africa that has flourished through the Ice Age and is also noted for being home to roughly half of the world’s mountain gorillas. If you are looking to gorilla trekking, Bwindi offers an unrivaled experience to adventure seekers!
At A Glance
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is located in the south-west of Uganda in Kanungu District, at the junction of the Virunga Volcanoes mountain range and the Albertine Rift. Covering a huge area of 32,000 ha, this forest is known for its unmatched biodiversity. There are around 160 species of trees and over 100 species of ferns. Certain endangered species along with mountain gorillas form an important part of its population.
You can come to Bwindi from Queen Elizabeth in 2 to 3 hours, from Kabale in 1 to 2 hours and from Kampala via Mbarara in 6 to 8 hours. However, getting to Bwindi requires a permit issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Their office is in Kampala. Or you can also ask the tour operators to make the reservation. There is no point in going to Bwindi without a permit because you will be refused entry.
When to Come?
Bwindi is ready for your visit at any time of the year. However, January and February along with June to September are the driest months and ideal for gorilla trekking. But, beware of the occasional afternoon thunderstorms which can precipitate anytime.
Accommodation options are endless. However, if you want to opt for the best then here is a list of top 5 lodging options in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
- Buhoma Lodge
- Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge
- Nkuringo Gorilla Campsite
- Hammerkop Bunkhouse
- Silverback Lodge
- Buhoma Community Rest Camp
What to see?
Nkuringo Gorilla Trail: The Nkuringo trailhead is situated along the isolated Nteko Ridge and it offers marvelous views en route the Virunga volcanoes in the south and the Bwindi forest to the north. At Nkuringo, gorilla tracking is the primary activity!!
Buhoma is the busiest tourist spot in Bwindi. Situated in the north of the forest, this is the beginning point of 3 marvelous gorges. Apart from tracking, you can spend hours watching different kinds of birds and explore the beautiful Bwindi National Park! All kinds of accommodation are available here.
Ruhija Trail: This trail gives you an excellent opportunity to look out for duiker, primates as well as both the forest and grassland species. Here, if you are a birder, you should take a 3-hour hike to visit the Mubwindi swamp. You can also climb through the bamboo zone to find the Afromontane vegetation and panoramic views along Lake Bunyonvi and Mafuga forest.
What to do?
Among all the various things you are planning to do, don’t forget gorilla tracking. It is one of the primary things that you should do at Bwindi. Yes, it is expensive but well worth every penny. There are various groups of gorillas and you should have an idea which ones are close to your camp and which ones are far away. The closer the group you choose, the easier it will be to get the permits. Although, with the further ones, it will be quite an adventure walking through the rain forest!
Gorilla tracking can take anywhere between 15 minutes to even one full day. Consider your fitness and the willingness of your group before you get started with the tracking.
Want to get a glimpse of how this tracking adventure can turn out to be? Check out the following video.
Last, but not the least, Safety is very important while you are at Bwindi. Although kidnappings are rare cases, but they do happen! Don’t get isolated from the group and follow all the rules and regulations you are asked to follow. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is going to be an adventure of a lifetime.
Hope you enjoy it to the fullest!
- For more information check out the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Guide a comprehensive park planner for visitors intending to explore Bwindi