Attractions in Bwindi impenetrable national park

Attractions in Bwindi impenetrable national park : Bwindi Impenetrable national park is well located at the rim of the western arm of the Great Rift Valley that is the Albertine rift valley in South western part of Uganda shared by the three districts of Kabale, Kisoro, and Kanungu. Bwindi impenetrable rainforest is one of the oldest remaining rainforests in Africa that have survived time throughout the last Ice Age and now the forest covers approximately 331 square kilometres with an altitude range between altitude between 1,160 meters and 2,607 meters. The park has a yearly average temperature ranging between 7° C and 20° C with the coolest time of the year being from June to July, the heaviest rains in March, April and November, the rest of the year is normally dry although given the topography  of the park as being mountainous, there are whether changes all the time in the forest.

Bwindi impenetrable national park has extensive biodiversity which supports the Eco-Tourism industry in Uganda. The forest is the main habitat to more than half of the total mountain gorilla’s population in the world making Uganda as the leading and main safari destination for Gorilla safari tours in Africa and also one of the best attractions in Bwindi impenetrable national park. The opportunity to meet this endangered creatures in-depth look into their appealing beautiful large eyes of these giant peaceful and shy animals is undoubtedly and confirmed as the most fascinating and unforgettable wildlife experience on a Uganda Safari. Bwindi impenetrable national park is home to more than 326 endangered mountain gorillas which is approximately half the total world’s mountain gorilla’s population in the world.

Attractions in Bwindi impenetrable national park
Attractions in Bwindi impenetrable national park

Bwindi impenetrable national park is home to about 120 mammal species such as the bush elephants, 7 species of primates such as the black and white Colobus being the most prominent due to its characteristic beautiful curving white tail hence similarly making the park a thriving Uganda wildlife safari spot. Bwindi forest prides in about hosting 23 greatly localized endemic Albertine Rift species, 360 bird species and 200 species of butterflies, the Afro-montane rain forest possesses a thick undergrowth of shrubs, ferns plus vines and more than 324 species of trees recorded in which about 10 of cannot be found in any other part of Uganda thus making Bwindi a “must trek” for enthusiastic tourists. Hence ranking it among the finest bird watching or birding safari destination in the country. With that background, below are some of the attractions of Bwindi impenetrable national park.

Gorilla trekking and habitation experiences

Given the population of the mountain gorillas in Bwindi forest, gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation are the main tourist attraction to this park. Bwindi receives the most visitors to Uganda every year. On a daily, about 8 people are allowed to trek the mountain gorillas in all the 4 sectors of Bwindi impenetrable national park, these sectors include; Buhoma sector and Ruhija sectors which are closely located in Kanungu district, Nkuringo sector and Rushaga sector which are closely located in Kisoro district. Bwindi impenetrable national park has about 16 habituated gorilla families in all the 4 sectors and each gorilla family is comprised of about 10 to 40 members varying in ages and led by a silverback gorilla that is the oldest and considered as head of the family. Some of the gorilla families commonly visited include the Mubare group which consists of about 18 gorillas with one Silverback opened up for visitors in the 1993.The other group is the Habinyanja group that consists of about 23 gorillas with two silver backs opened up for visitors in July 1998. Each gorilla permit is $700 per person for foreigners

Attractions in Bwindi impenetrable national park
Silverback in Bwindi

Gorilla habituation experience on the other hand is a process of taming wild gorillas to make them get used to human being when they visit them. The wild gorillas are usually shy and dangerous when disturbed so gorilla habituation process helps to make them familiar with humans. This process is done by the wildlife research program under the Uganda wildlife Authority. Only 4 visitors are allowed to join the researchers for gorilla habituation experience for the whole day while moving around with them from the time they wake up until late in the evening when they go back to their nests. They also get to spend 4 hours in the presence of the semi-habituated gorillas. The purpose of this experience is to help the gorillas get used to human presence and also see their behavior for example how they care and protect each other in their families which makes it one of the top attractions in Bwindi impenetrable national park.

Bird watching safari in Bwindi Impenetrable national park

Bwindi forest is bird haven for bird lovers and one of the best montane forest where we find different bird species. Bwindi forest is the finest birding safari destination in Uganda with more than 350 species of birds that are extremely difficult to see in a number of other areas within East African, 14 of those birds can only spotted only here in Uganda on a Uganda Safari. The Albertine rift has over 90 percent of the Albertine rift endemic, also has about 24 unique Albertine birds such as the blue-headed sunbird, and the Neumann’s warbler. The Grauer’s Broadbill and the Shelley’s Crimsonwing are the most endangered species. The main places for bird watching in Bwindi forest include; the Buhoma waterfalls in Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable national park, the Mubwindi swamp trail and the Bamboo zone. Some of the bird species spotted in Bwindi forest include; the Rwenzori Double-collared, Strang Weaver, Regal Sunbird, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Grauer’s Rush Warbler to mention a few. Other bird species to be spotted in Bwindi forest include; Evergreen Warbler, Rwenzori Batis, Turner’s Eremomela, African Pitta, Yellow browed Camaroptera, Cassin’s Honeybird, Compact Weaver, Dusky Long-tailed to mention a few. Some of the other special species include; the Dusky Crimson, honey guide, Bar-tailed Trogon, the Wing, Warbler, White-tailed Blue Monarch Short-tailed Warbler, Yellow-eyed black Fly-catcher, Kivi ground thrush as well as Rusty-faced woodland Gruel’s Rush Warbler and even a passionate bird watcher may be in a position to identify up to 100 species every day.

The Nature Walks to Bwindi Forest;

For nature walks in Bwindi impenetrable national park visitors need 3 or more days to stay at this park. There are about 4 outland hiking trails that are popularly conducted within the park. On each one of these trails, you will be able to experience and acquire information about the different bird species, the various primates, several butterflies, different trees plus the other species in this Eco system. All nature walk tours are conducted with the help of the armed park ranger guides and also be escorted by the porters who will help you with your personal safety so as to achieve a better understanding of the Eco system of this park.

Attractions in Bwindi impenetrable national park
Nature Walks to Bwindi Forest

Kashasha River Trail – This trail is about 4-5 hours hike and ushers you into the jungles of the ancient forest and the end of the trail is 600 meters high. This interesting trail involves walking through steeper inclines and using the Buhooma-Nkuringo route.  Most times, this trail begins from Nkuringo Park headquarters then goes down through a community land until reaching the Park Buffer zone. This trail passes the junction of the two Rivers inside the forest, thereafter another 20 minutes’ ascent to meet with the alternative route. This trail is inside the forest and about 90 minutes’ walk from Buhoma and several bird species, plants/flowers and trees especially ferns can be spotted. If you want to enjoy the most stunning views, then go through this trail as it offers an intimate experience of the natural wonders within this misty rain forest environment, and the birds are plenty when using this trail.

Mubwindi Swamp Trail – This trail is about 4-5 hours along a path in the jungles and slopes/descends through the magical rainforest with breath-taking viewpoints along the way of rich valleys and the Virunga massif. Visitors are likely to encounter some primates especially the Chimpanzees and monkeys, numerous bird species, forest elephants, luckily even the mountain gorillas and the bush pigs because majority of those wildlife are found within this area of the Forest.

Bamboo trail – Hiking through the Bamboo Trail takes 7 hours and involves climbing a steep area of up to the highest point in Rwamunyonyi hill at 2,607 meters above sea level.  As you hike using this trail, you will encounter different vegetation and plant species that include the Bamboo forest with over 14 different plant species until when you reach the Afro-montane vegetation zone.  During this trail, you will encounter different birds and plant species as attractions in Bwindi impenetrable national park. The view point of this trail (top of Rwamunyonyi Hill) rewards hikers with spectacular view of Lake Bunyonyi and the breath-taking views of the Virunga Volcanoes and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Muzabajiro Loop Trail – This trail takes about 3-4 hours rewarding tourists with the most beautiful view because it involves walking through the forest, and climbing to Rukubira Hill where tourists enjoy the fantastic view of the Virunga Mountains Massif, Buhooma areas of Bwindi Impenetrable forest and the western rift Valley below.

Ivy River Trail – This trail is a 14km/full day’s walk with the most fascinating experiences and is conducted through an old road in the Jungles. While on this trail, tourists can encounter several mammal species including bush pigs, several primate species, bird and butterfly species and also some of the local community members while from the market. An alternative route for this trail can be from Buhooma to Nkuringo. The trail usually takes six and a half to seven and a half hours. The start of the trail can be from Nkuringo or Buhooma. Sometimes this trail starts from Nkuringo Park headquarters, then follow a murram road downhill as you are rewarded with breathtaking views for about 7kms and turn right to Ivy River. It is 2-3 hours walking from the Nkuringo Park headquarters to the Ivy River, while from this River to Buhooma as you walk through the forest takes approximately 4 hours hence total walking time is about 6 hours. Tourists ascend and descend gently through the interesting areas of the jungles with numerous viewpoints from the murram road from or to Nkuringo while overlooking mist covered valleys. This trail is commonly used by the local community members when travelling to or from Nkuringo especially during market days to the Nteko Village, Situated on the Southern Boundary of the Park. Some of the interesting animals you are likely to encounter include duikers, bush pigs, some famous bird species, monkeys and beautifully colored butterflies.

The Habinyanja (Railegh) Trail – This trail always takes 4-6 hours. After passing through the Munyanga River, tourists use a fairly steep slope of the Habigorogoro and Riyoyi Ridge overlooking the Buhoma River. The most interesting features on this trail is the “African corner” named after a rock that represents the map of Africa. With the steep ascent, keen hikers can relish a more relaxed gentle slope to the Habinyanja Swamp.  Bird watchers will also find this trail interesting because they might encounter the African Back duck, Black Bee-eaters, Pel’s Fishing Owl among others making them stunning Attractions in Bwindi impenetrable national park.

Rushura Hill trail – This trail passes through a forest shared by two countries. Rushura hill is the highest point in Buhoma sector, and the trail begins near Buhoma Park headquarters, through the terraced gardens and breath-taking forests. What makes this trail worth trying is that tourists are rewarded with several scenic viewpoints. The moment you get to the top of this hill, you will be amazed by the mind blowing views of the Western Rift Valley, Rwenzori Mountains, Lake Edward, Bwindi Impenetrable forest and then Virunga Volcanoes. This hike is considered the most scenic because when on top of the mountain (about 1,915 meters high) you have the greatest views of the surrounding areas.

Munyanga Waterfall Trail – This trail starts from Buhooma along River Ivy-Nkuringo Trail and culminates into the breath-taking views of the three crystal clear waterfalls that are 33 meters high. This trail is the perfect one for tourists with little time to spare. Some of the important features that can be seen on this trail include monkeys, tree species like the epithetic ferns, orchids, birds, colourful and beautiful butterfly species

The Ruizi River Trail – This trail is so far the longest trail in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and usually takes the whole day and is the best for birdwatchers.

The Buhooma-Nkuringo Trail – This trail is about 3-4 hours trail crosses right through the Park, then connects the two villages and offers a spectacular view of the smoggy hillsides as hikers descend the hills towards Nkuringo. Hikers do not need to go with luggage because they can find them on the other side of the trail. This trail can also be completed as part of the Ivy River trail.

Batwa community tours

The Batwa or pygmies people  are one of the attractions in Bwindi impenetrable national park which were the original inhabited in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park before the area was gazetted into National Parks in 1991 and for the purposes of wildlife and environmental conservation, they were forced out of the world heritage parks recognized by the UNESCO to resettle in places outside the gazetted areas. The Batwa communities had to leave behind their native cultures and adapt to the ways of modern agriculture and pastoralism. This also meant that they were to let their original cultures die to the past and adapt to the modern era. Today, the Batwa people have settled around the park and funds also got from the parks are also given to the Batwa people. Visiting the Batwa is an additional exciting country experience of the indigenous people whereby you get to learn a lot about the way of like of these pygmies when they still stayed in the forest. Some of the experiences to be encouraged include; a local herb area in the forest where you will learn about the different plants and roots that the Batwa people used as medicine for things like herbs for stopping bleeding in women after child delivery, herbs for Malaria, Blood pressure and other ailments/diseases. You will also be shown the leaves that are always pounded into paste used to get rid of evil spirits. Surprisingly there is no plant within the forest that is not important, everything in it is useful. In the forest, what seems as a wild yellow fruit or plant, the Batwa people see it as a delicious vegetable sauce or even ingredients for a natural soap. This cultural experience may last for about 2 hours and it end with entertainment from the Batwa people in form of dancing and singing where you will also be asked to join in the music.

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