Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. Its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of Uganda's oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of plants. More famously, this “impenetrable forest” also protects an estimated 400 mountain gorillas – roughly half of the world’s population, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked.
This biologically diverse region also provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes.
Birding in Bwindi is considered as exceptional and can be organized at any tourist sites indicated hereunder. Bwindi has a varied habitat which is Uganda's oldest forest meaning that it is the ideal home for a variety of birds; with 350 species recorded, including 23 endemics (90% of all Albertine Rift endemics) such as the Short-tailed Warbler and Blue-headed Sunbird as well as seven IUCN red data listed species. Easy to see are the African Emerald Cuckoo, Common Bulbul, African Blue and White-tailed Blue Flycatchers and Red-headed Bluebill.
Bwindi was gazetted as a National Park in 1991 and declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994.
Gorilla trekking locations
There are 4 locations for tracking gorillas in Bwindi and these are Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. These 4 locations have a total of about 18 families as of December 2018. Only 8 visitors are allowed to view the gorillas for one hour per day, participants must be aged 15 or over and they will be accompanied by UWA guides while with the Gorillas.
IMPORTANT: locations are organized independently and located several hours away from each other. The Buhoma/Ruhija area is the oldest and is located at the north-western side of Bwindi while Nkuringo/Rushaga area are at the south-eastern side of Bwindi near Kabale (Bunyonyi) town and not far from the Rwanda border (Cyanika).
Tracking the gorillas can last from a few hours to a whole day, depending on how far the group has moved since it was observed nesting up the previous evening.
NORTHERN BWINDI (BUHOMA & RUHIJA REGION)
Domestic flight are available: Entebbe to Kihihi plus road transfer to Buhoma 1h30.
Activities & Special Intrest:
- Gorilla trekking:
Mubare Gorilla family.
Habinyanja Gorilla family.
Rushegura Gorilla family.
Katwe Gorilla family.
Bitukura Gorilla family.
Oruzogo Gorilla family.
Bitukura Gorilla family.
Kyaguriro Gorilla family.
- Behind the scenes, a visit of Gorilla Health and Community Centre (Buhoma):
Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) was founded by Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka for the sole purpose of wildlife conservation. As non-profit, non-governmental organization their programs are focused mainly on wildlife conservation, community health and alternative livelihoods.
They have established partnerships with communities living around Bwindi Impenetrable NP to establish better means of sustainability and less reliance on the forest so as to reduce human and wildlife interactions.
With ever increasing threats to the lives of the already endangered gorillas, CTPH has turned their focus on gorilla health through regular monitoring of habituated gorilla groups, and improving community attitudes to gorilla and forest conservation. It is for this same purpose that in 2005 they established a Gorilla Research Clinic in Buhoma - Bwindi’s main tourist site, which in 2015, was upgraded to a larger Gorilla Health and Community Conservation Centre. At the centre, samples from gorillas, livestock and people are analyzed to test for zoonotic diseases that have the potential to be shared across species.
During your visit to the Community Conservation Centre, you will get a behind the scenes tour of gorilla conservation through explaining of the programs including gorilla health monitoring, community health and livelihoods.
While at the centre, you will:
- Tour CTPH facilities and get an inside look at our conservation efforts
- Gain a better understanding of how we analyze samples from gorillas
- Attend seminars and Q&A sessionsBook an intimate gorilla experience to track gorillas with Dr. Gladys (optional)
- Visit our Village Health and Conservation Teams to learn about their important public health work
Book this visit with your Fly-in Gorilla Express tour for an all-round gorilla experience.
- Forest walk (Buhoma & Ruhija)
For those wishing to explore this forest, there are several trails on which you will discover the hidden gems of this forest such as waterfalls, primates, picturesque views and breathtaking birdlife.
You are free to choose a trail that suits your guide. You may inquire from your driver-guide or the reception desk of your accommodation.
This walk may be combined with gorilla trekking depending on the time you come back.
- Community walk (Buhoma)
This walk shows you the people residing in this community and its purpose is for you to learn about their way of life and culture. During this walk, you will meet the crafts women as they weave baskets, see them till the land and if brave enough you may try your hand at it. Continue to see the production of local gin from bananas and the coffee process from crop to cup. Taste the freshest cup of coffee!
The walk continues to meet the traditional healer and hear what he can heal using only local herbs and then the Batwa (pygmies) who were residing in the forest before it became a national park. They were relocated into the community. They will demonstrate their way of life when they were still in the forest and they will close this with a rigorous dance performance.
- The Batwa experience (Buhoma)
The three-hour village walk begins with a visit to the handcraft shop – selling handmade artefacts such as fabrics, beeswax candles and wood carvings, all produced by talented local craftsmen and women. The neighboring Batwa community performs songs and dances about their former life in the forest, introducing you to another unique local culture. You will also meet the traditional healer who treats the sick with medicinal plants, and the teachers and pupils of the local primary school. Finally, you can learn how bananas are used to make juice, beer and gin – and taste the results!
SOUTHERN BWINDI (RUSHAGA & NKURINGO REGION)
Domestic flight: Entebbe to Kisoro
Activities & Special Intrest:
- Gorilla trekking:
Mishaya Gorilla family.
Nshongi Groilla family.
Kahungye Gorilla family
Bweza Gorilla family
Busingye Gorilla family
Bikingyi Gorilla family
Nkuringo Gorilla family
Bushaho Gorilla family.
Christmas Gorilla family.
- Nkuringo Community Tour:
Nkuringo sector is a marvelous place to visit for tourists who yearn for both breathtaking scenery and riveting cultural experience. It is located on a hillside bordering Bwindi Forest with extended views of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
During your community tour, you will meet a local blacksmith. With the sound of the sheepskin tool emitting air into a charcoal-fired furnace, from where the skilled blacksmith attaches red-hot metals, and then moulds them into several tools such as machetes, knives, saucepans. A practice that is taken from the stone age period.
You will also visit a local homestead where you will be welcomed to several traditional grass-thatched huts housing the bedroom, kitchen-with millet grinding stone, cooking pots and distillery for making local banana gin.
The traditional healer uses local medicine made from different herbal powders, ointments and tea for treating a wide range of illness.
The tour will end with an encounter with the community as you observe their day to day chores. A traditional performance from the local artisans will be the climax of the tour.
This tour offers you a glimpse of the life in this community and we do hope that it will be inspiring and educative as well as entertaining.
- Canoe ride on Lake Mutanda
Experience the lake using the traditional dug-out canoes. We will paddle to Punishment Island, Forest Island and others and learn about south western Uganda as well as the history of this beautiful lake. Lake Mutanda is a volcanic lake that is Bilharzia free, with no hazards like crocodiles and it is a fresh water lake with the better views of the volcanoes ranges of Mt Muhabura, Mgahinga and Sabyinyo.