Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in south western Uganda, on the edge of the western Rift Valley (Albertine rift) and is shared by Kisoro, Kabale and Kanungu districts. The park covers an area of over 330 sq kms with an altitude range of 1,160 metres to 2607 metres.
This forest park was originally gazetted in 1932 as Kasatoro Crown Forest (South Sector, 181km²) and kayonza Crown Forest (North Sector, 26km²). In 1942, the two forests were combined and additional forest added to establish the Impenetrable Crown Forest (324km²). In 1961, two Forest reserves bordered the impenetrable Forest; the Bikingi Local Forest Reserve (7.6km²) in the south sector and the Ishasha local forest reserve (13.8km²) in the northern sector. In 1966, these were incorporated into the Impenetrable Central Forest reserve ((320km²). The impenetrable was gazetted as an Animal Sanctuary in 1961 and as a National park in 1991.
This park is home to over 350 species of birds, 202 species of butterflies, 200 species of trees and 120 species of mammals that include about 340 Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei) which is roughly half of the estimated population of 720 left in the world; there are also chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), Elephants (loxodanta Africana), Blue Monkey (Cercopithecus ascanius), Olive Baboon (Papio anubis) Black and white colobus (Colobus guereza), L’hoesti Monkey (Cercopithecus l’hoesti), the needle clawed Galago (Galagoinustus) and the Potto (Perodictus potto).
Bwindi has 4 fantastic hiking trails that include River Ivi trail, Rushuru trail, water fall trail, Munyaga river trail and the Muzabajiro loop.
Most visitors come to the park to track the rare Mountain Gorillas. The park has 15 gorilla groups currently available for tourism. These include
Nkuringo Sector: Bikingi, Nkuringo and Bushaho
Buhoma Sector: Rushegura, Habinyanja and Mubare
Ruhija Sector: Bitukura, Oruzogo, Rukara and Mukinga groups
Rushaga Sector: Mishaya, Nshongi, Kahungye, Busingye and Bweza.
Gorilla tracking starts at 8:30 am local time and can last from a few hours to a whole day.
When to go:
Bwindi being a rain forest means that it is wet all year round although of course the rains increase in the months of April – May and October – November. It is advisable to go when you get gorilla tracking permits that are not only limited but are also sold on a first come first serve basis.
Bwindi is lies in south western Uganda, about 530 km from Kampala.
Kampala – Ntungamo – Rukungiri – Buhoma.
This is the most direct route from Kampala. The road from Kampala to Rukungiri is tarmac (390km) and 82 km on murram road from Rukungiri to Buhoma.
Kampala – Kabale – Kanungu – Buhoma.
This route follows a tarmac highway to Kabale (414kms) and takes a minimum of 5 hours drive. The next section Kabale – Buhoma follows winding murram roads for 120km and pass through Kanungu and Kanyantorogo.
Kampala – Kabale – Ruhija – Buhoma.
This route follows a tarmac highway to Kabale (414kms) and takes a minimum of 5 hours drive. The next segment is 95kms on a murram road and takes a minimum of 4 hours drive. It is important that this section of the road is in poor condition and not frequently used.
Kampala – Mweya (Queen Elizabeth National Park) – Kihihi – Buhoma.
This route goes through the southerly ishasha sector. Bwindi is 16km from Mweya and 64km from Ishasha.
Kampala – Kabale – Ruhija
This route follows a tarmac highway to Kabale (414kms) and takes a minimum of 5 hours drive. The next segment is on a murram road to Ruhija. The Kabale – Ruhija section of the road is in poor condition and not frequently used.
Kampala – Kabale Ruhija
This route follows a tarmac highway to Kabale (414kms) and takes a minimum of 5 hours drive. Kabale to Nkuringo is 105 km and takes approximately 4 hours drive.
A 4 x 4 wheel drive vehicle is recommended for any of the routes to Bwindi.
By Air: Chartered planes can be booked for your flight to either Kayonza or Kisoro Airstrips and then by road to Buhoma and Nkuringo respectively.
Accommodation in Bwindi ranges from camping facilities to up market facilities.
Recommended lodges and Camps include; Mahogany Springs Lodge, Gorilla Forest Camp, Buhoma Lodge, Volcanoes Bwindi Camp, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Chameleon Hill, Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Gorilla Safari Resort & Ruhijja Gorilla Lodge.