Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: The Complete Guide

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Today we want to share with you something special:

Explore Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which offers some of Uganda's most memorable wildlife experiences!

It is located in the southwest of the country, on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and is famous throughout the world as a sanctuary for endangered mountain gorillas. It is one of only four parks on Earth where you can enjoy close encounters with gorillas, a rare subspecies that is among our closest living relatives.

About the park

Situated on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park incorporates 124 square miles of mountainous forests and untamed plains. Carpeted over rugged peaks and mist-veiled valleys, the forest is more than 25,000 years old and is also one of the most biologically diverse in the country. Five major rivers begin their journey in Bwindi, all eventually flowing into Lake Edward to the north of the park. In recognition of its importance as a stronghold for mountain gorillas and other rare or endemic species, the area was declared a national park in 1991 and registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

Bwindi gorillas

Most people travel to Bwindi to find their mountain gorillas. There are approximately 1,000 of these great apes in the wild, and Bwindi is home to only about 400. The rest of the world's population is divided between three adjacent parks located south of Bwindi, on the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. . Bwindi was the first park in Uganda to accustom a troop of gorillas for tourism purposes in 1993. Since then, many other families have become used to it, so there are now 18 groups that people can safely visit.

Gorillas pay little attention to their human visitors, instead of continuing with daily activities, including hygiene, play, and feeding. Seeing them in their natural environment is a humbling experience, especially since many of their behaviors are very similar to ours. It was to be expected, as gorillas share 98% of our DNA.

Other flora and fauna

Although gorillas are undoubtedly the stars of the show, Bwindi supports an incredible variety of other plants and animals. This includes 120 species of mammals, ten of which are primates, ranging from chimpanzees and black and white colobus monkeys to vulnerable red-tailed monkeys and l'Hoest monkeys. Other possible sightings include elephants, antelopes, giant forest pigs; and if you are very lucky, the magnificent African golden cat.

348 species of birds have been recorded in Bwindi, and 23 of them are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley. These rarities include Neumann's short-tailed warbler and the blue-headed sunbird. Many of the park's abundant species of butterflies and reptiles are also found exclusively in the Albertine Rift Valley; while its plant life is among the most diverse of all the forests of East Africa. Botanists must search for more than 1,000 species of flowering plants, 160 different types of trees, and 100 different species of ferns.

The Top Things to Do

Gorilla trek

Gorilla families in Bwindi can be visited up close through organized walks in the company of a guide from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). The hikes take place in four areas of the park (Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo) and are strictly controlled for gorilla security. Only eight visitors can visit each group per day, for a maximum of one hour. This means that licenses are rare and expensive and must be reserved well in advance. In addition to being physically fit (it may take several hours to locate the troop), participants must be at least 15 years old and in good health.

Hiking

Unlike many other African parks, Bwindi is only navigable on foot. There are six main trails to choose from. Highlights include the hike through the Muyanga waterfall, which takes you along the Ivi River to a spectacular 108-foot waterfall; and the Rushura Hill Walk with its breathtaking views of the Rwenzori Mountains, Virunga Volcanoes, and Lakes George and Edward. Interested bird watchers should hike the Habinyanja Trail, which takes hikers past a map-shaped rock of Africa to the bird-rich Habinyanja Swamp. The most sought-after sighting here is the rare and elusive Pel Fish Owl.

Mountain biking

If you are passionate about mountain biking, consider exploring the Bwindi forest on two wheels. Make your way to the Buhoma Community Rest Camp, where you can arrange to hike a 12-kilometer trail that takes you from the park headquarters to the Ivi River, a round-trip trip of about seven hours.

Cultural Encounters

When Bwindi was declared a national park, the local Bakigwa and Batwa were forced to move from their ancestral homes deep in the forest to villages on the outskirts of the park in rural villages. You can support these communities and learn about their way of life by adding a cultural experience to your visit to Bwindi. Opportunities include workshops on African cooking, weaving, dancing, and percussion at the Nkuringo Cultural Center; and walks through the Buniga Forest Reserve in the company of a native guide.

One of the most immersive cultural experiences is a walking tour of the town of Buhoma. During your stay in the village, you will learn about the ancient life of Batwa in the forest through interpretive songs and dance performances. You will meet the traditional village healer, visit a local school, and have the opportunity to buy handcrafted souvenirs. At the end of the experience, toast new friends with a mug of craft banana beer.

Where to stay

Accommodation is plentiful in Bwindi, located mainly in the neighboring towns of Buhoma, Nkuringo, and Ruhija. Options range from inexpensive camps and community rest camps to independent bands and luxury accommodations. Top sophisticated options include Volcanoes Safaris Bwindi Lodge and Mahogany Springs Safari Lodge, both in the Buhoma area. If you're traveling on a budget, Nshongi Camp and Broadbill Forest Camp are great options. These fields are located in Nkuringo and Ruhija, respectively. Visit the UWA website for a complete list of accommodation options.

Climate and best time to visit

Bwindi's location near the equator means that there is relatively little difference between the seasons in terms of temperature. In contrast, the tropical climate is humid and humid throughout the year. Average annual temperatures range from lows of 45 to 59 degrees F (7 to 15 degrees C) and highs of 68 to 81 degrees F (20 to 27 C), although cold and early evening hours are common. The most important factors when planning your trip are the rainy seasons, which go from March to May and from September to November. At these times, the access roads are often in poor condition and the trails within the park are much more difficult to navigate. Therefore, the dry season is the best time to visit it (although gorillas can be seen throughout the year).

Getting there

Entebbe International Airport, near Kampala, is the country's main gateway for foreign visitors. From there, charter flights are available to Kisoro airport (for activities in the southern sector of the park) or for flights to Kayonza or Kihihi (to access the northern sector). Alternatively, you can choose to drive to the park. It takes about 8 hours from Kampala, 3 hours from Queen Elizabeth National Park, and 2 hours from Kabale City. If you book a gorilla tracking tour, your chosen company will be able to arrange transportation to the park on your behalf.

We hope you enjoy watching this video about Exploring Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Source: Drik Tea & Travel

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