Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Uganda Safari
Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are part of Uganda safari tours with quite memorable excitements. Unlike other activities but Bwindi as attracted many tourists to visit the pearl of Africa purposely to encounter these unique creatures ‘’endangered mountain gorillas ‘’ which can be found in three countries worldwide Uganda ,Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo .Despite the fact that , in the wild there is a total of about 1064 individuals and the half number of them can be found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable national park .Though Uganda boosts with two recognized places of observing these great mountain gorillas that are Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla national parks and rest of the species can be seen in Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park and Congo’s Virunga national park. Although, Bwindi Impenetrable national park sounds as the best safari destination for tracking our closest cousins who are said to share 98% of human genes ‘’the great mountain gorillas’’. However ,Bwindi Impenetrable national park is located in southwestern direction of Uganda with a long driving hours of about 9 to 10 hours right from the starting point could be Kampala or Entebbe .Alternatively ,you can choose to fly with a domestic flight whether with scheduled or chartered flight to land you to Kihihi airstrip which is located few meters away from the park’s gate ,from there you will be picked up by our professional safari driver guide to drop you to the park for the activities or for the comfortable stay .
Below are the activities one can engage in on visits to the park as highlighted such as Gorilla trekking, Nature walking, Birding, Hiking and Cultural encounter as well as Gorilla habituation experience.
Since Bwindi Impenetrable national parks is famously known as a home to the half Mountain gorilla population and best gorilla trekking-tracking destination among the three countries.
Gorilla trekking starts early after visitors’ aroma tea with a briefing about rules and regulation of gorilla trekking. After briefing, you meet your guide in a number of eight people who are allowed to observe the gorilla for one per day and participants must be aged 15 years and above, you will be accompanied by ‘’UWA’’ Uganda Wildlife Authority guides while you’re with gorillas. Tracking the gorillas can take a few hours to whole day, depending on how far the group your assigned are to be located since it was late observed in the evening nesting up the previous evening.
Gorilla trekking –tracking can be done in four gorilla tracking location such as Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo gorilla sectors. These 4 location have a total of about 20 gorilla families /groups. Above all, before engaging in gorilla tracking, you need to be holding valid gorilla permits which must be bought before tracking through booking directly with the reservation offices at the Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters or through reliable tour agent. You can book your permits for up two years in advance.
Gorilla trekking can be done the forest trails like in Bwindi Impenetrable forest is more interesting since the forest harbors the largest population of these species, through searching for them with the park guides it might take 30 to 6 hours trekking. Once you a locate the species, you will be given an hour to observe the unique life style of this lovely creature as well as enjoying unforgettable photography with video taking. Gorilla trekking in Uganda goes at USD700 per person per day, In Rwanda gorilla trekking costs USD1,500 per person and Congo costs USD400 per person per trek.
Hiking /Nature walking
Hiking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest brings one to discover the hidden treasure with in the park, that can be carried out in several nature trails and the best interesting trails is in Buhoma it’s good to those who wish to explore the beauty of the Impenetrable forest, including the waterfall walks, forest walk, mountain views, primate and remarkable birdlife.
Below are the six main nature trails which are found in Buhoma a very rewardable place for nature lovers as to be explained below;
Muyanga Waterfall Walk; The hiking starts from Buhoma along the River Ivi-Nkuringo trail and culminates in the sensational sight of the falls measuring 33 meters.
Rushura Hill walk; This is one of the most rewarding trails in Bwindi as you pass through one forest shared by two countries. On visit to the park along this trails on clear day. You can be able to view Lake Edward and George and the magnificent snowcapped Rwenzori Mountain as well as conical peaks of the Virunga Volcanoes.
Muzabajirro Loop; This is also a walk over around a hill, it is a 6 kilometers walk leading you to great location of encountering primates and birds and enjoy a view of the Virungas.
The Ivi River walk; This trail head is a 14 kilometers and takes around seven hours. The trail passes through mukempunu which means a place of pigs where wild pigs can often be seen as well as notable bird species.
The Buhoma-Nkuringo Trails; It looks to be a long hour hiking so you need to be physically fit to access the hike. The hiking can take 3 to 4 hours as you cross through the park then connect the two villages thus giving you impressive views of the misty hillsides as you ascend the hill towards Nkuringo. While hiking in this trail, you can leave your luggage with your safari drive who will meet you at the other side. All in all, it can also be completed as part of the Ivi River walk.
The Habinyanja trail; This trail can take 4 to 6 hours hiking. As you hike you can hike crossing the Munyaga River and it takes thrilling views of the Habigorogoro and Riyovi Ridge overlooking Buhoma River. More interesting about this trails is the legendry known as African corner named after a rock piece depicting a map of Africa. Following the steep ascent, keen hikers can enjoy much more relaxed gentle slope to the great Habinyanja swamp.
Habinyanja trail is a great location for spotting various kinds of birds such as Pel’s fishing Owl, African Black Duck and Black Bee Easters many more.
Bird Watching in Bwindi
Bwindi Impenetrable forest is also one of the Uganda’s top birding sites because of the beautiful thick forest nature which are habitant to bird species. The forest is an ideal home of numerous bird species with more than 350 birds recorded including the 23 endemics of which 90% of all Albertine Rift endemics such as Blue-headed sunbird, short tailed warbler as well as seven IUCN Red data listed species. Some of the few species to see include African Emerald cuckoo, Common Bulbul, African Blue and White-tailed Blue Flycatchers and Red Headed Bluebill as also one of the Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The most rewardable place to sight see variety for birds is along the Buhoma waterfall trail and along the bamboo zone and Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija.
List of bird species to encounter in Bwindi forest include ;Handsome francolin ,Many colored bush shrike ,Blue headed sunbirds ,Black faced rufous warbler ,Black bee eater ,African broadbill ,Blue-headed sun bird ,Yellow streaked greenbul ,western green tinker bird .Ruwenzori apalis , Regal sunbird ,Purple-breasted sunbird ,Olive-breasted greenbul ,Neumann’s warbler ,Mountain masked apalis among the rest .The migratory bird are best seen in the months of November and Aprils .Birding is more rewardable in wet season when the food is the abundance with in the forest /parks like in the months of March to May.
Visiting Bwindi on your gorilla tracking safari, never leave without visiting the Batwa people and meeting also the energetic dances of the Kikorongo Equator Cultural performers, visit the workers harvesting salt on Katwe Salt Lake. Also reach out to a traditional Banyaragura hut all can be guided by the local guide because he can be knowing them better.
Along your culture encounter in Bwindi forest gorilla trekking, you will be able to visit the Leopard Village a community that promotes cultural and wildlife conservation through ecotourism. This socio-economic development sits near the village of Muhokya and Leopard Village is located on 3 acres bordering the northern sector of Queen Elizabeth national park.
Visitors can tour the villages around and be interested of the traditional huts of the Banyabindi, Bakozo and Basongora ethnic groups. You won’t only view their traditional huts but also watch their traditional song and dance performances as well as buying their handmade crafts by the local communities.
You can as well visit to the local schools and discus about the traditional village life. Visit the Batwa people and enjoy their amazing life style through storytelling, dance entertainments.
Mountain Biking in Bwindi/Cycling
Mountain biking in Bwindi is an exciting activity done in rewardable trail heads starting right from the park headquarters at Buhoma to the Ivi River. The biking takes place along 13 kilometers trail where you are able to see primates like black and white colobus, red tailed monkey and bushbucks among others.
This activity goes to 6 to 7 hours’ round trip departing in the morning in a well maintained trails which is organized by Buhoma Community Rest Camp under the Ride for a woman community development initiative.
Gorilla Habituation Experience
Gorilla habituation experience is worth an interesting activity as you spend a full day in the forest tracking these endangered mountain gorillas. Among the three countries it can only be done in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable national park. The activity starts with briefing and after enter the forest in search for gorillas with researchers, doctors and park rangers, who leads you to the habituated gorilla group in Rushaga sector. This activity can be done in a group of four and since it is a whole day activity, you’re given four hours to spend with gorillas once you allocate them, compared to gorilla trekking which is an hour activity. Gorilla habituation experience costs USD1,500 per person per day.