Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Uganda’s foremost tourist attraction, and indeed one of the world’s most remarkable wildlife encounters, is tracking mountain gorillas across the misty slopes of the remote Bwindi Impenetrable forest of south-western Uganda.
These magnificent apes are both rare and endangered; their total population numbers less than 800 animals divided between the forests of Bwindi Impenetrable and the nearby Virunga volcanoes. With fifteen groups habituated for tourism, the Impenetrable Forest is the world’s primary mountain gorilla tracking destination.
Due to its great age, some 25,000 years, Bwindi’s forests contain an exceptional variety of flora and fauna. Species counts list 310 butterflies, 200 trees, 51 reptiles and 120 types of mammal. The latter includes several primates, chimpanzees, blue monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkey, and the mountain gorilla.
Birdlife is also exceptionally rich with 357 species, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics such as the short-tailed warbler, Shelley’s crimson wing, African green broadbill, blue-headed sunbird, and seven IUCN Red Data List species. To protect this remarkable biodiversity, the 321km² Bwindi forest was gazetted as a national park in 1991 and declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site in 1994.
What to Do:
- Mountain Gorilla Tracking
- Bird watching – Bwindi’s four trailheads all offer excellent birding opportunities
- Through gorilla tracking and forest trails, nature walks lead to scenic waterfalls and ascend to viewpoints for breathtaking views of Bwindi forest, the Albertine Rift Valley, and the Virunga volcanoes.
- Community walks – through forest edge villages provide insights into the lives of the local Batwa (Pygmy) and Bakiga peoples.
- Flight from Entebbe International Airport or Kampala’s Kajjansi airfield to Kisoro
- The main trailhead at Buhoma is about 460kms from Kampala and can be reached by road from several directions. The primary safari circuit approaches from the north through the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP), providing a chance to search for the famous tree-climbing lions. Bwindi is 160kms from Mweya in central QENP and 62kms from Ishasha.
Best Time to Visit:
- Gorillas tracking is best when Bwindi’s tracks are not so wet, and there is more sunlight (June to August and December to February). Slippery paths and infrequent mist make wildlife watching more challenging during the rainy season of the year – April-May and November.