Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
This evergreen rainforest was declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994. The park covers 321km2 and its height above sea level ranges from 1,160m – 2,607m. Bwindi is found in the southwestern of Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley.
This forest is encased by one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests, dated back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of flora.
Bwindi Impenetrable forest is famously known as a haven for the endangered Mountain Gorillas. Over an estimated population of 440 mountain gorillas –which is half of the world’s population, including several habituated groups tracked for the last 24 years.
In Bwindi we have 4 sectors where these gorillas are tracked; Buhoma & Ruhijja sector in the North and Nkuringo & Rushaga in the South. The Nkuringo sector is considered among the most challenging treks within Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Covering a series of steep ridges, slopes and valleys, Bwindi has five major rivers flowing into Lake Edward. The park provides shelter to 120 mammals, 10 primates and more than 45 are small mammal species. Apart from mountain gorillas, there are also common chimpanzee, L’Hoest’s monkey, African elephant, African Green Broadbill, and Cream-banded Swallowtail, black and white colobus, red-tailed monkeys, vervets, the giant forest hog, small antelope species, more than 350 bird species and more than 200 butterfly species.
Activities in Bwindi Forest
Gorilla trekking; Escape To Africa Safaris is an expert when it comes to organizing Gorilla tracking Safaris. Gorilla tracking is the most popular activity in the park and a must do for all visiting Uganda! With 104 permits issued daily, maximum eight for each of the habituated gorilla group. However depending on the permit sale for a sector, permits sold can be less than the maximum number allowed. This activity starts at the park entrance at 7:00 am, and one can only know the group to track the morning of tracking after Briefing by the rangers.
Possession of a gorilla permit is a guarantee of tracking, BUT its not a guarantee of one’s sighting. However the chance of gorilla viewing is high – 95%. Only 1 hour is allowed in the company of gorillas at 7 meters distance. For one to be allowed to track, he must be above the age of fifteen years. Before entering the forest, always have packed lunch as it can’t be predictable the amount of time one will spend in the forest tracking these beautiful creatures.
Walks; With Escape To Africa, we provide authenticity by organising interesting activities on foot that showcase Uganda as fauna, culture and breath taking scenery. These walks range from hours up to a week.
We have 2 types of the walks, those done outside and inside the forest
Walks inside the Park;
- Hiking through Bwindi Forest; This walk links the Southern side to the Northern side using marked trails on foot. This is only possible using any of the 2 trails – referred to as the long and the short trail. With any of these trails, either start from Buhoma and end in Nkuringo or start from Nkuringo – Buhoma. Since there is no road inside the park, the vehicle with the guide drives around the forest – this drive is 7 hours, as you walk through the forest with the Uganda wildlife armed rangers, experienced guides and a rack sack containing some change of clothes and snacks. As chances are, you might arrive at the before the guide.
Ivy River Trail; This trail is found inside Bwindi at 14km, it takes about 4 – 5 hours through the forest from the Northern side to the Southern side vice versa (Buhoma – Nkuringo / Nkuringo – Buhoma) This trail is recommended to people looking for a less challenging trail through the forest
Kashasha trail; This trail is found inside Bwindi at 19km, it takes about 7 – 8 hours through the forest from the Northern side to the Southern side visaverse (Buhoma – Nkuringo / Nkuringo – Buhoma). This trail is recommended to people looking for a more challenging trail through the forest.
Munyaga Waterfall; This waterfall is found in the middle of Bwindi forest between Buhoma and Nkuringo sector. This, breath-taking falls is at 33M in height forming a pool at the end where one can enjoy a swim. This is an extra must visit while in the forest.
Outside the Park;
- Buffer Zone – 2 to 3 hours (Buhoma, Nkuringo & Rushaga sector); This walk involves visiting the area between the local community and the Forest. Tea is planted in the buffer zone to keep away the Gorillas such that they don’t cross to the community farms. This walk through the buffer zone is a transition zone between Bwindi Impenetrable through the farm lands to the park boundary, and it provides an opportunity of birding and experiencing the community livelihood.
- Batwa Trail – 3 hours (Buhoma / Nkuringo / Rushaga sector); With Escape To Africa, this trail takes us through that part of Bwindi forest that used to be home to the Pygmies the Batwa; also known as “people of the forest”. In 1991 they were displaced from the forest as its was declared a UNESCO world Heritage site and home to only Gorillas. This trail is run by the local community and it involves the Batwa acting out their pervious life in the forest inform of traditional dance and drama. It involves some slippery walk but it can be done by both experience and un experienced hikers.
- Batwa Settlement – 3 to 5 Hours (Rushaga / Nkuringo / Buhoma sector); This visit involves walking to the community which was formed by the Batwa when they left the forest. Visiting the Batwa settlement, one experiences both the previous and the past Batwa life. Like the Batwa trail, this activity is also run by the local community and all the fees contribute to the development of the community. This walk is from home to home and not challenging at all.
- Suma Water Fall Walk – 4 to 5 hours (Nkuringo / Rushaga Sector); This waterfall is found in the local community. It involves passing through farmland and enjoying not only a swim in the waterfall pool but also birding and cultural touring. Its 1 hour drive from Rushaga and 30 minutes’ drive from Nkuringo.
- Nombe Pocket Forest Walk – 5 to 6 hours (Nkuringo / Rushaga sector); This forest used to be part Bwindi but was later given to the local community. It’s a beautiful forest good for birding as its home to many different bird species. Also enjoy a relaxing picnic in the forest. Its 1hour drive from Rushaga and 30 minutes’ drive from Nkuringo.
- Coffee tour – 2 to 3 Hours (Nkuringo / Rushaga sector); Enjoy the walk from either Kisoro or just drive to the starting point of this walk. This walk takes us to the home of the coffee farmer, who is very welcoming and takes us to the farm where we go through the whole coffee process, from planting – coffee picking – coffee drying – grinding – making a cup of coffee. At the end of this process, your view of a cup of coffee will never be the same! Its 1 ½ hour drive from Rushaga and 2 hours’ drive from Nkuringo.
- Canoe on Lake Mutanda – 2 to 3 Hours (Nkuringo / Rushaga sector); This is a half day activity, that either starts from Sheebas camp or Kisoro or lake Mutanda resort. The canoeing is done by local community experienced guides. Only 1 – 2 pax are allowed in the canoe with 1 guide. If you’re interested in canoeing, the guide will pass you the canoe but for a few minutes. Enjoy a picnic at one of the islands in the lake and bird to your hearts content!