Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park a home to the gentle giants of the forest aka mountain gorillas. Bwindi means darkness, if you penetrate this impenetrable forest, you will get the true meaning of this name. Bwindi is home to half population of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas that roam freely in this natural ecosystem.
Bwindi is situated in south western part of the country covers 32,000ha. It was gazetted as a national park in 1991. And in the year 1993 the first gorilla group named Mubare was opened to tourism for tracking. In 1994 Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park was declared as the world heritage site.
To date several gorilla groups have been habituated to cater for an increasing number of visitors who wish to track these gorillas. Each family is allowed a minimum number of 8people per day and this is done in order to minimize the numbers that track them and not to stress the gorillas. Gorillas are critically endangered species so their conservation is very critical as well as their habitats. In each group is a dominant male called a silverback. . Each group has up to 20 members. Gorillas share about 93% genes with humans. Their day to today living is like a typical human being family with children that keep playing around on their mother’s backs and jumping from one tree branch to another. During tracking you will occasionally see the silverback caution the youngsters to behave. Baby gorillas entirely depend on the care of their mother and father till they reach the age of 2years.
Bwindi forest tropical rainforests dates back to over 25 million years ago, it is bisected into four sectors; Nkuringo, Buhoma, Ruhija and the Rushaga., each sector has got habituated gorilla groups ready for tracking with one group strictly for research purposes
The impenetrable forest is not only a home to an estimated 459 Mountain gorillas but a host of over 120 mammals including primate species like Chimpanzees, Baboons and Monkeys. This rain forest has got both thick tree canopies an undergrowth consisting mostly fans and climbing plants. There are about 400 different plant species that make up this rain forest.
Bwindi is an excellent biodiversity that has got over 350 bird species including 23 Albertine Rift endemics. This makes it an excellent spot for bird watching. Elephants, antelopes and over 200 butterfly species are also resident here.
Gorilla trekking typically starts with early morning briefing at park headquarters. For one to track gorillas he/she must obtain a permit in advance and tracking takes between 5 hours and above from the headquarters to the forest and back depending on the location of the group one is tracking. Fitness is paramount for one to track gorillas. The terrain can be slippery, steep and challenging, however it’s quite rewarding meeting these giants.
Apart from tracking, habituation is also done here. This one is more captivation because one spends more time with gorillas and gets to learn more about their behavior. However it’s more taxing in terms of the walking distance to be covered
Guided nature walks will also usher you into several communities. Notable is Batwa cultural experience. The Batwa used to live within the forest. They were typically hunters and fruit gatherers till they were told to get out of the forest for conservation purposes. To date they leave on edges of the forests. Several other communities live around the forest. Their entertainment and locally made crafts will enrich your stay here.
Bwindi is accessible by road from Entebbe international airport is between 9-10hours drive or one can opt to go by air. There scheduled from Kajansi airfield to Kisoro or Kihihi airstrip. Charter flights are also available.
One will be spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation. From Budget, midrange to upmarket you choose what suites your interests.