Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is located in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. Its misty hills are covered with beautiful rainforest, one of the oldest and most biologically diverse in Uganda – estimated to be 25,000 years old and home to over 400 plant species. – These are 320 mountain gorillas living in it. This is almost half of their world population, and here they live in small family groups.
In addition, this biodiverse region is home to 120 species of mammals, including some primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes. About 350 species of fish live in this forest, of which 23 are endemic to the Albertine Rift.
The neighboring towns of Buhoma and Nkuringo have an impressive range of luxury lodges and budget campsites, as well as restaurants and local craft shops. There is an opportunity to discover the local culture of the Bakiga and Batwa Pygmies through performances, workshops and walks in the countryside. Due to the diversity of habitats from 1160 to 2706 m in height, the location at the intersection of the Albertine Rift, the Congo Basin and the ecological zones of East Africa, as well as its significant role as a Pleistocene reserve, Bwindi is the most important place in Uganda for representatives of flora and fauna., resulting in an incredible biodiversity that includes many endemics of the Albertine Rift. It is believed that this forest is only the remnants of a very large forest, which once covered much of western Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This area has the highest diversity of tree species in East Africa (over 200 species, including 10 endemics) and ferns (104 species), and is also the most important forest in Africa for mountain forest butterflies, of which there are 202 species (84% of national total), including 8 endemics of the Albertine Rift. In addition, the significance of this forest is also great because it is home to almost half of the population (about 320) of mountain gorillas, which are endangered. The forest is home to over 347 forest bird species, with at least 70 of the 78 mountain forest bird species found in the Albertine Rift region, as well as 22 of the 36 endemics.
In general, Bwindi is home to many endangered animal species, including the important and widely known mountain gorilla, chimpanzee, bearded marmoset and African elephant; birds such as the African green hornbill, the nimble pied beak, the brown-fronted yellowbelly, the Lendui flycatcher and the red-backed (bamboo) mountain ashtrild; butterflies such as the sailboat antimachus and the swallowtail butterfly (Papilio leucataenia).
The territory of the national park is a tiny patch of wild jungle located inside one of the most densely populated rural areas in the country with a population density of over 350 people per square kilometer. km. Bwindi shares a border with the small (about 900 ha) Sarambwe Protected Forest in the DRC, which is sometimes crossed by gorillas and other animals. This allows them to be distributed over the territory and creates an opportunity for the movement of genes between populations, as well as for international cooperation in terms of preserving the endemic flora and fauna of the region.
Characterized by steep hills and narrow valleys, Bwindi National Park is an important watershed for the surrounding densely populated countryside and is one of the few large forests in East Africa where lowland and highland plant communities meet. The three main tributaries of the Ishasha River empty into Lake Edward in the north, while the Ndego, Kanyamwabo and Shongi rivers flow south to Lake Matanda.
The grass cover in the forest is damp and filled with leafy humus, tangled vegetation, and fallen vines that help you climb up and down slippery slopes in search of the elusive mountain gorillas.
Finding gorillas up to 1982 meters can be tedious, but the rewards are worth it. Of course, not everything will be so difficult, but when you go to the gorillas of the Bwindi Park, you must be ready to unleash the explorer that lives inside you.
When visiting gorillas, you will be told that if a large male with a silver back (they are called silverback here) pays attention to you, you should look down and remain in place, assuming a submissive posture. These words of wisdom are the exact opposite of natural instincts, but luckily, if your feet don’t follow instructions, there will always be a ranger by your side. The noise you will hear when the male beats his chest, simulating an attack, is akin to the noise of thunder, and it is more than enough to make your knees start pounding and your heart stop in fear. Because gorillas grow up in an environment where they are trained to be around humans, they become accustomed to situations that don’t happen very often. Each group of gorillas is only allowed to visit for one hour a day by a limited number of people, who are usually granted permission at least a month in advance.
There are many other primates in the park, including the chimpanzee, colobus, red colobus, blue marmoset, grey-cheeked bearded mangobey, and bearded marmoset. In addition, the animals that inhabit the Bwindi forest include the elephant, the big forest pig and small antelopes.
Dry season: January and February + the period from June to September are the driest months and are the most suitable for climbing mountains with gorillas. However, even in the dry season, you should be prepared to get wet during the occasional afternoon shower.
Rainy season: After the long rains from March to May, many roads become impassable, the air is hot and humid, and the soil in the forest is very slippery. It also often rains in October and November.
Temperatures: A pleasantly hot temperature of 25°C can be expected from June to September, rising to 27°C in January and February.
- Close encounters with mountain gorillas
- Climbing the Virunga Mountains
- unique flora
The park covers an area of 220 sq. km.
It is located in the extreme southwest of the country where Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC meet.
Just getting to Bwindi is an adventure in itself because you have to travel almost all over Uganda to get there.
Visiting permits are limited to 12 per day, many of which are purchased by tour operators.