Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is well-positioned at the rim of the western arm of the Albertine Rift Valley in southwestern Uganda and shared by the districts of Kanungu, Kabale, and Kisoro is part of the Bwindi impenetrable rainforest which is one of the few in Africa that survived the last Ice Age. Gazetted as a national park in 1991 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park covers a total area of 321 square kilometers with an elevation that ranges from 1,160 meters to 2,607 meters above sea level. The park is majorly comprised of montane and lowland forest that the park can only be accessed while on foot-the rainforest doesn’t get the ‘impenetrable’ name for nothing really. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the west and has Kabale in the south as the nearest town with a distance of about 29km by road.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a source of many rivers that flow and pour in Lake Edward, say River Ivi, Munyanga, Ihihiza, Ishasha, and Ntengyere. All the other rivers pour into Lakes Mutanda and Bunyonyi. Streams are formed when rain falls and the forest becomes a water catchment area. The park has a tropical climate and its temperatures range from as low as 7 degrees Celsius and to a high of 27 degrees Celsius. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has an annual rainfall that ranges from 1400-1900 millimeters with the wettest months being May, April, September, October and November. The other months are what are regarded as the dry months, in which period travelers are most encouraged to visit the park. Do not be surprised to receive rains during the months though, this is a rainforest that has rains falling at any time.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to a number of wildlife species with the most common and sought after by travelers visiting the park being the mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are endangered apes that live in tropical forests and mountainous areas of the Virunga ranges and Bwindi impenetrable national park only. The Virunga ranges make up Virunga National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda respectively. It is in Bwindi that the highest number of mountain gorillas are recorded with more than half of the world’s total gorilla population being here. Most travelers visit the park to take part in gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation, activities which involve travelers hiking the impenetrable forest in search of the mountain gorillas and spending some time with them.
Bwindi Impenetrable National park has a number of habituated gorilla groups that travelers are able to track in the four sectors of the park, say Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija, and Nkuringo gorilla sectors. The habituated gorilla groups include Mubare-the very first to be habituated with a number of others that require a traveler purchasing a gorilla permit to be allowed to take part in the gorilla trekking experience. Only 8 persons per gorilla group per day are allowed, and they can only spend up to one hour with them.
The park also features a diversity of other species that call Bwindi Impenetrable National Park home. With about 30 forest elephants, the park has 120 mammal species, 348 bird species, 220 butterfly species and 324 plant species with about 10 of them being found only in Bwindi. The presence of these features avail more activities for any traveler to take part in apart from gorilla trekking already mentioned above, say;
Bird watching: this is made possible with the abundance of bird species that roam Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The park is one of the finest birding areas in the country where birders will have an opportunity to see a number of them that are hard finding in any other parts. Some of the birds one is to encounter are the Dusky Crimsons, Bar-tailed Trogons, White-tailed Blue Monarch, Kivi ground thrush among so many others. A typical birder with binoculars in hand can spot up to 100 species a day.
Nature walks/hikes: these nature walks through carefully created trails lead travelers through some of the most beautiful places in Bwindi. Travelers get to experience and acquire information about the park as they hike, bird and animal life many of which you will see with the guidance of experienced tour guides.
Cultural encounters: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park once had natives that lived and solely depended on the forest-the Batwa. These people were however evicted from the park and relocated to settlements outside the park. It is this group of people that started sharing their life history and way of life back then when they still co-existed with the forest and were gatherers with travelers in what is called a Batwa cultural encounter. Travelers who get to meet them during the encounter have a lot that they will learn, from medicinal plants that you least expected, to dances and songs shared.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park can be reached by both air and road and also from Kigali Rwanda. By road, travelers get to take an 8-9 hours’ drive from Kampala or Entebbe to Bwindi through a number of routes say Kampala -Kabale -Kisoro. The drive is a great way to enjoy the countryside of Uganda and also enjoy some really scenic views. A number of stops can be made along the way that you wouldn’t even notice how soon you arrived. By air, chartered flights are available from Kampala or Entebbe to Kihihi or Kisoro. Aerolink and a number of other planes can offer the services but pre-booking is really encouraged. From Kisoro or Kihihi airstrips, it is a 1-2 hours’ drive to your accommodation. Travelers can also fly into Kigali International Airport in Rwanda and then transfer to Bwindi through the Cyanika border that takes about a 4 hours’ drive, remember to purchase a visa for both countries or better yet have an East African visa that allows you entry in Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda.
Bwindi impenetrable national park is a beautiful park that has a lot to offer to any traveler. Take time to plan out a perfect gorilla trekking safari to Bwindi Impenetrable national park and you will have a memorable experience.