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Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

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About Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

At the border of the Great Rift Valley, in the south-western part of Uganda exists the most diverse forest in Uganda. In the early 90s, Bwindi Forest was just a reserve but it was later changed to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in 1992 and awarded World Heritage Site status in 1994 due to its rich ecosystem.

Bwindi impenetrable forest is one of the few large expanses of forests in East Africa on 327 square km2 covered in the dense vegetation of shrubs, trees, and vines, all these draped over the steep, haughty ridges and slippery valleys of Bwindi Forest terrain.

The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a habitant to over 120 mammals like monkeys, wild pigs, forest elephants, and baboons among others, and 345 different birds, and insects of all kinds inclusive of over 200 species of butterflies and about 160 tree species that help in the continuous rain formation. Bwindi receives rain throughout the year and guests are requested to move with warm clothes.

The park is commonly known for being home to one-half of the world’s population of endangered Mountain gorillas, making it an extremely valuable conservation site.

The gorillas are habituated in four sectors inclusive of:

The Buhoma sector in the northwest of the Park has 3 habituated families namely Rushegura, Mubare, and Habinyanja.

Ruhija is on the east side of the Forest with 3 gorilla families namely: Oruzoojo, Kyaguriro, and Bitukura.

Nkuringo is found in the southern sector of the park and it is the most straining trek due to the steepness as you climb back from the valley.

Rushaga is in the southeast of the park and has 5 families namely Busingye, Bweza, Kahungye, Mishaya, and Nshongi.

Each sector has different families allocated to it and a group of eight pax is allowed to trek with one gorilla family each day.

Attractions

GORILLA TREKKING

After your breakfast, your guide will transfer you to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Park headquarters. While at UWA park headquarters, you will be requested to register in the UWA book before proceeding for a briefing by the ranger guide about the dos and don’ts during your trekking like no flashlights when photographing gorillas after you will be allocated a gorilla family to trek and you will match out with your ranger on your day’s excursion.

Get ready to face the gentle giants of Africa, dream come true, right? You will set off from the park headquarters through the demarcated trails in the dense forests with your ranger to search out for the gorillas, the gorillas are wild animals that move from one location to another looking for food which makes the trek sometimes go on for 9 hours, however, this could be different because you might find the gorillas a few hours after the start of your trek. Although the gorillas are always on the move, the chance of seeing the gorillas is at 95%.

After you have located a family, you are allowed to spend an hour with them, take photos of them, and observe them go on with their daily activities, a very life-changing moment and feeling that many have expressed as exhilarating, enthralling, and indeed humbling.

Although the trek mainly focuses on the gorillas, you will sight other primates like monkeys, birds, and rare tree species.

After the time with the gorillas, return to the Park headquarters for your certificate of participation and your guide will return you to the lodge.

Tips for trekking

  • Wear long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt with a T-shirt underneath.
  • Wear walking boots with long socks.
  • Day bag to carry your waterproofs, water (2-3 liters), and packed lunch.
  • Gardening gloves can prove useful to protect your hands from thorns and stinging nettles.
  • Secure the services of a porter to carry your day bag and help you with the terrain.
  • No flash photography is allowed when photographing the gorillas.

GORILLA HABITATION

Gorilla habituations are the phases gorillas go through to get more familiar and comfortable with human surroundings. The process takes 2 years before the gorillas are allowed to meet with the humans. The difference between Gorilla trekking and Gorilla Habituation is that with gorilla trekking you spend only an hour with the Gorillas and proceed out of the forest while with Gorilla habituation, you will have a maximum of four hours with the gorillas observing their interaction with humans in the presence of a researcher who collects data that is used to learn and understand the different lives of mountain gorillas.

Gorilla Habituation is only done in Rushaga, the southern sector of Bwindi National Park in the whole of Africa. There are only 2 families that are habituated and only four people are allowed to trek a family day therefore only a total of 8 pax are allowed to participate in Gorilla Habituation a day.

Gorilla habituation permits are limited, therefore clients need to book through a tour operator in advance before their trip to avoid disappointments on the ground.

FOREST WALKS

Engage yourself in a walk that mindfully brings tourists closer to nature through the tropical rainforest. In the accompaniment of a ranger guide, move through the forest canopy offering sightings of birds, monkeys, tree species, and lots of lush vegetation among others.

VILLAGE COMMUNITY WALK

Embark on a community walk through the local villages surrounding Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Optional activities include visits to a traditional home, local orphanage or school, banana brewing demonstrations and even meeting traditional medicinal healers. This three to four-hour walk is easily tailored to your schedule and interests.

BATWA CULTURAL EXPERIENCE

Enjoy an amazing experience with the local community around Bwindi. The Batwa were among the first indigenous occupants of Bwindi but ended up on the outskirts of Bwindi Forest because they were evicted from the forest. It is a 3 – 4 hour hike to the Batwa Village from the park gate.

Once at the Batwa Village, You will meet with the Batwa elders and their families to learn and experience their daily lives. You don’t have to worry about the language barrier, there is always an interpreter available on-site to help you relive the unique traditional lives and practices of Batwa. The Batwa people are extremely attached to bush life and the forest and this is portrayed in their way of living, the food they eat, the way they hunt, their kind of entertainment, the style of their homes, and their burial ground among others.

Visitors are even given the chance to learn how to light a fire with just a stick and how to shoot a target with traditional weapons. 

WALKING SAFARI

To experience more of the forests, UWA has created different trails in the forest like the trail between the south and the North called the ivy trail. Clients walk from the Nkuringo sector of Bwindi to the Buhoma sector in the North, you need not worry about your luggage as the guide can drive it to the lodge or you can hire porters, a trail from Nkuringo to Lake Mutanda and from Nkuringo to Kisoro also the waterfall trail popularly known as the Munyaga river trail which ends at the beautiful waterfalls in the forest.

The 3- 4 hours walk offers sightings and sounds of the forest, encounter the native wildlife like the animal and plant species in the park, there are chances of meeting the gorillas on your way through the forest, as well as other primates cohabiting Bwindi like monkeys.

BIRDING

Bwindi Forest is one of the best birding sites in Uganda and a must-visit for all birders on the Uganda safari. Bwindi Forest nests over 345 different birds with 14 endangered species only found in Uganda like the African Green Broadbill which can only be in the Ruhija sector. The best way to spot the birds is by doing the nature walk following the different trails like the ivy trail, Munyaga Trail, bamboo trail, and the Mubwindi swamp trail.

RIDE FOR A WOMAN

Ride for a Woman organization founded in Buhoma village is just a 10 minutes drive from Buhoma lodge and it is a charitable organization that supports women in the community struggling with Poverty, and domestic violence among others. This helps them earn a living from sewing machines, weaving, and crafting among others.

While at Ride for a Woman, you will get the opportunity to learn how to cook traditional dishes of the Bakiga tribe. Wander through their gardens, pick and dig your choice of vegetables and herbs then set to work with the chef in the kitchen.

You will use a milling stone to make the flour for the bread yourself; G-nut (groundnut) sauce – the favorite pink sauce found all over Uganda; Matooke (green banana) – prepare it, wrap it, and watch it cook on the fire; Goat’s meat roasted then boiled; Irish potatoes (Imonda) and the local drink, Obushera, made from sorghum, millet, honey, and water.

Feel free to enjoy all of the delicious food you have prepared yourself, in the beautiful new dining room of Ride 4 a Woman.

COMMUNITY VISITS

You can visit the local communities around the different sectors like Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. The walk with a guide takes you through the rural areas of the sectors like the local schools around, hospitals like Bwindi community hospital in the Buhoma sector, traditional healers and so much more. The community walk is organized by the locals themselves so booking the community walk is funding the locals directly.

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