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BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK

Are You Planning A Gorilla Safari Trek To Bwindi? Scroll Down..

GORILLA SAFARI TREKKING GUIDE ON BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK IN UGANDA

Bwindi Park Introduction - Location, Wildlife & History

As you crouch a few feet away from a massive silverback in the lush environs of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you’re filled with awe, wonder, and just a tinge of fear as an adorable baby gorilla clambers all over the giant adult. This is only one of the thrilling moments you’re likely to experience on your primate safari vacation in Uganda’s southernmost reserve. Standing on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley, Bwindi is known for the amazing biodiversity of its rainforests, which date back more than 25,000 years, making them possibly the oldest in the world. This conservation area received gazetted status as a national park in 1991, earning the distinction of UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994.

Key Takeaways

  • Uganda’s southernmost reserve
  • Part of the Albertine Rift Valley dating more than 25,000 years, possibly the oldest forests in the world
  • Dedicated as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994

Watch Video On Bwindi Safari Experiences

Page Content - Start Here

1. What Beautiful Landscape & Diverse Habitats Exist In Bwindi?
2. What Are The Distinctive Primate & Wildlife Experiences Of Bwindi?
3. Overview On The Gorilla Safari At Bwindi Including Permit Prices
4. Which Sectors In Bwindi Are The Gorilla Families Seen?
5. What Kind Of Fauna (Animals) & Flora (Vegetation) Exist In Bwindi?
6. History Of Bwindi & Its Ancient Lore
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park - An Overview

1. What Beautiful Landscape & Diverse Habitats Exist In Bwindi?

Key Takeaways

  • Extending over an area of 331 square kilometers
  • Diverse ecology featuring a range of landscapes including rocky ridges, dense rainforests, deep valleys, lakes, and a multitude of waterfalls
  • Famous for mountain gorillas, one of the 10 species of primates that thrive here
With altitudes ranging from 1160 to 2607 meters above sea level, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park covers an area of 331 square kilometers. Sprawling over lofty highlands, it features a range of landscapes including rocky ridges, dense rainforests, deep valleys, lakes, and a multitude of waterfalls that contribute to the five rivers that emerge from the reserve and travel into Lake Edward. Thick mists cover a forest canopy so lush that sunlight scarcely filters down to the forest floor, making it a mystical place to explore (best time to visit Bwindi for a gorilla safari). This forest haven is home to the magnificent Bwindi mountain gorillas, one of the 10 species of primates that thrive here. Others include black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, vervet monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys etc.
What Beautiful Landscape & Diverse Habitats Exist In Bwindi

2. What Are The Distinctive Primate & Wildlife Experiences Of Bwindi?

Key Takeaways

  • Tracking one of the 20 distinct gorilla families numbering over 450 members in all
  • Opportunity to view 200 butterfly species, and various other insects, reptiles, and amphibians
  • Sightings of some of the 120 mammals and 350 species of birds including 23 endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley
As you tour Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you may also come across some of the 350 species of birds, of which 23 are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley. You will also receive an introduction to the 400 kinds of plants, 120 mammal species, and 200 butterfly species present in the park, along with various reptiles, amphibians, and insects that make up the rich biome of this superb landscape. Of course, the highlight of this reserve is certainly the mountain gorillas, which number over 450 and live in 20 distinct families. They often wander among the upper inclines of Bwindi highlands, and that’s where you will find them on your gorilla trekking safari.
What Are The Distinctive Primate & Wildlife Experiences Of Bwindi

3. Overview On Gorilla Safari At Bwindi Including Permit Prices

Key Takeaways

  • Tracking and spending time with the gorilla family assigned to you
  • Each family led by the alpha silverback male
  • Standard permits for $700 to spend one hour observing a gorilla family
  • Advanced permits for $1,500 to spend 4 hours observing a semi-habituated family
  • Additional activity fees and charges for guides and porters applicable
Aside from its immense beauty, the most exciting highlight of travel in Bwindi Park is undoubtedly the gorilla-viewing experience. A full-grown adult male – or silverback, as he’s often called – is up to three times as hefty as a normal full-grown human, and the shaggy coat he typically sports adds to the impression of bulk, making him look exceedingly large and scary. However, as your tour guide will explain, these primates are gentle and peaceful creatures and are not easily provoked. They are more likely to display aggression to warn intruders away when they feel threatened or think that their family is in danger, but the likelihood of them actually hurting anyone is quite low.

To view the mountain gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you need to acquire one of the two types of permits available. At your discretion, you may tip the guides, rangers and trackers. The cost of hiring a porter, if you need one, is extra. Standard permits cost about $700 and allow you to spend one hour with the gorilla family allotted to you. For the price of $1500, you could spend up to 4 hours with a semi-habituated group from the time they are first spotted; that is, one still undergoing the habituation process. A single group with a maximum of 4 guests are allowed each day on these treks.
Overview On The Gorilla Safari At Bwindi Including Permit Prices

4. Which Sectors In Bwindi Are The Gorilla Families Seen?

Key Takeaways

  • Buhoma sector for Mubare, Habinyanja, and Rushegura families
  • Rushaga sector for Bikingi, Kahungye, Busingye, Bweza, and Shongi families
  • Ruhija sector for Rukara (Kyaguriro A), Mukiza (Kyaguriro B), Bitukura, and Oruzogo families
  • Nkuringo sector for Bushaho and Nkuringo families
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the proud home of 20 gorilla families, totaling over 450 individuals that exist in Uganda. These gentle primates spend their time wandering the hillsides of the reserve, foraging for food and shelter. As you will learn during your safari vacation, gorillas mostly restrict their activities to specific territory, normally with a 16 square miles (41 square kilometers) radius. You will be able to visit particular families based on the location where you’ve set up base.

Buhoma

The Buhoma sector is ideal for meeting the Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, Katwe and Binyido groups. The Mubare family was first habituated to guests touring the region in 1993 with the habitation that started in 1991. This sector is also famous for the nature walks you can undertake to visit three of the most beautiful waterfalls in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. You can also spend time with the Batwa community and visit Bwindi Community Hospital.
  1. Mubare Gorilla Family
  2. Habinyanja Gorilla Family
  3. Rushegura Gorilla Family
  4. Katwe Gorilla Family
  5. Binyido Gorilla Family

Rushaga

Should you choose to begin your excursions from the Rushaga trailhead, you might encounter the Shongi, Kahungye, Bweza, Busingye, Bikingi (semi-habituated), Mishaya, Kutu or Mucunguzi groups. Not only does this locale have a large number of gorillas, but it’s also known for forest elephant sightings.
  1. Shongi Gorilla Family
  2. Kahungye Gorilla Family
  3. Bweza Gorilla Family
  4. Busingye Gorilla Family
  5. Bikingi Gorilla Family (Semi-habituated)
  6. Mishaya Gorilla Family
  7. Kutu Gorilla Family
  8. Mucunguzi Gorilla Family

Ruhija

Guests staying over at the Ruhija sector may be able to visit the Bitukura, Oruzogo, Kyaguliro or Mukiza families. Other interesting activities that visitors to this sector can participate in include bird-watching and exploring the bamboo forests and wetlands nearby.
  1. Bitukura Gorilla Family
  2. Oruzogo Gorilla Family
  3. Kyaguliro Gorilla Family
  4. Mukiza Gorilla Family

Nkuringo

If you’ve booked accommodations in the Nkuringo sector, you can expect to meet the Nkuringo, Bushaho or Christmas gorilla families. While you are in the area, you’ll want to take the time to enjoy the Buniga Forest Walk and mingle with the Batwa tribe that lives here, all while enjoying spectacular views of the Virunga Volcanoes.
  1. Nkuringo Gorilla Family
  2. Bushaho Gorilla Family
  3. Christmas Gorilla Family
Safari holidaymakers who have opted to stay in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park may be able to meet the Nyakagezi gorilla family.
Which Sectors In Bwindi Are The Gorilla Families Seen

5. What Kind Of Fauna (Animals) & Flora (Vegetation) Exist In Bwindi?

Key Takeaways

  • Park assigned the UNESCO World Heritage site status
  • 10 species of primates including rare mountain gorillas, L'Hoest's monkeys, red colobus monkeys, and others
  • 120 species of mammals including small predators and herbivores
  • Over 400 plant species, 104 types of ferns, and 163 kinds of trees
  • 200 kinds of butterflies, 28 types of reptiles, 28 kinds of amphibians, and 27 kinds of frogs
  • 350 bird species including 23 native to the Albertine Rift Valley and 7 IUCN red data listed species
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has rightly earned the distinction of a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to the variety of flora and fauna it hosts. As you travel through the reserve, you are likely to encounter some of the more than 350 species of birds present in the park, of which 23 are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley. In addition to the famed mountain gorillas, the park has 10 species of primates including L'Hoest's monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, blue monkeys, red colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, and several nocturnal species that have not yet been identified. Among the 120 large and small mammals that live in Bwindi Impenetrable Park, you have an opportunity to spot the forest elephant, various antelope, and giant forest hog, along with predators such as the African golden cat, side-striped jackal, and African civet. Of the mammals that inhabit the park, 49 are large animals and 71 are smaller. If your safari trip in Bwindi includes nature walks through the forest, your guide will help you identify some of the more than 400 varieties of plants, 104 types of ferns, and 163 kinds of trees present in the park. Some of these species are unique to the area, and regions including the northern lower altitudes host rare varieties, such as the Brazzeia longipedicellata and brown mahogany.

It may interest you to learn that Bwindi Park also has species that have not received scientific names. There are over 200 kinds of gorgeous butterflies present here, as well as 28 types of reptiles, 28 kinds of amphibians, and 27 kinds of frogs. And be sure to spare the time to meet the human residents, too – the local people who live just outside the reserve.

Bwindi ’s rich diversity includes a superb variety of birdlife in Uganda that you may be able to see on hikes designed for bird-watching. In all, the region supports more than 350 species of birds, of which 23 are native to the Albertine Rift Valley. These include 7 of the IUCN red data listed species, the blue-headed sunbird, and the short-tailed warbler. The prime bird-watching areas are along the Buhoma Waterfall Trail, as well as the bamboo forests and Mubwindi Swamp Trail in the Ruhija sector. Here, you can see the white-tailed crested flycatcher, Rwenzori batis, red-faced woodland warbler, yellow-streaked greenbul, francolin, chestnut-throated apalis, western green tinkerbird, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, and various others.

Visitors should also keep a sharp eye out for the red-headed bluebill, African blue and white-tailed blue flycatchers, common bulbul, and African emerald cuckoo, all of which thrive in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Lucky bird-watchers may even get a chance to see the elusive Shelley’s crimsonwing and African green broadbill. Ornithologists say that the reserve has 76 of the 144 species of the Guinea-Congo forest biome, along with 68 of 86 of the Afro-tropical highland biome varieties.
What Kind Of Fauna (Animals) & Flora (Vegetation) Exist In Bwindi

6. History Of Bwindi & Its Ancient Lore

Key Takeaways

  • Getting insights into the origins of the park’s name, from the Mubwindi Swamp, “mubwindi bwa nyinamuraki”
  • Ancient mysticism and folklore that relates the story of the sacrifice of Nyina Muraki
  • Originally established in the year 1932 combining Kayonza Crown Forest Reserve and Kasatora Crown Forest Reserve covering an area of 298 square kilometers
  • Gazetted status assigned in the year 1991 combining Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve, Rwenzori Mountains Reserve, and Mgahinga Gorilla Reserve
  • Specifically designed for the conservation of the last natural habitat of the rare mountain gorillas
Just as fascinating as the varied denizens of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is its ancient lore and history. You’ll hear more about its many secrets when you spend time in the reserve on your safari vacation in Africa. Legend has it that the park takes its name, “Bwindi,” from the term used for Mubwindi Swamp, “mubwindi bwa nyinamuraki,” which is found in the southeast section.

About 100 years ago, so the story goes, a family traveling from the Kisoro area was trying to cross a swamp that seemed impossible to traverse. After praying to the spirits of the swamp for guidance, they were asked to sacrifice their loveliest daughter in exchange for safe passage. Faced with the prospect of returning to the south, the family opted to drown their daughter, Nyina Muraki, so that they could cross safely. As people learned about their sacrifice, they began to call it “mubwindi bwa nyinamuraki,” which translates as “dark place of nyina muraki.”

Fast forward to more recent times: Bwindi came into being in 1932 and received gazetted status in 1991. At the time, the reserve was composed of the northern block, also called the Kayonza Crown Forest Reserve, and the southern block, which was dubbed the Kasatora Crown Forest Reserve. Combined into the Impenetrable Central Crown Forest in 1942, the reserve covered a total area of 298 square kilometers.

Eventually, in 1991, Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve, Rwenzori Mountains Reserve, and Mgahinga Gorilla Reserve merged to become Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, with a total combined area of 321 square kilometers. The park was specially designated as a protected mountain gorilla viewing destination for tourists in April 1993, and even today is operated as a forest reserve and wildlife sanctuary under the management of the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Perhaps the only downside of instituting the park in its present status is the effect that had on the Batwa Pygmy people, who have been removed from the forest boundaries and are no longer allowed to use its resources as a means of livelihood.
History Of Bwindi & Its Ancient Lore

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WHERE & BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BWINDI
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WHERE & BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BWINDI

Bwindi has varied accommodations, from the forest luxuries of Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge and Bwindi Lodge. The deluxe options are Buhoma Lodge and Mahogany Springs.

SAFARI & TOUR IN BWINDI
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SAFARI & TOUR IN BWINDI

The primary activity at Bwindi Park is gorilla trekking including the habituation experience. Other tours are birdwatching excursions, forest waterfall hikes, Buhoma mountain biking, Batwa cultural encounters etc.

BEST TIME TO VISIT BWINDI
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BEST TIME TO VISIT BWINDI

Given that the main focus of your safari in Uganda is likely to be the mountain gorillas, the best time to visit Bwindi is in the long dry season, which begins in June and continues through July and August.

GORILLA FAMILY GROUPS IN BWINDI
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GORILLA FAMILY GROUPS IN BWINDI

Should you plan a gorilla viewing safari to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you will learn that the park has twenty resident gorilla families that are habituated to the presence of humans.

AFRICANMECCA REVIEWS

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EAST AFRICA SAFARI BOOKING TRIP IDEA FOR BWINDI IN UGANDA

When visiting Bwindi Park for your gorilla safari trek, we recommend combining it with Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, and Kibale (chimpanzee safari) alongside your city tour visits of Kampala and Entebbe.

You may optionally extend out to other wilderness areas such as Mgahinga to track down golden monkeys and gorillas in the same park, Jinja for whitewater rafting on the Nile River, and Semliki, Lake Mburo or Kidepo for an offbeat wildlife tour.

You can end your vacation on the beach at Lake Victoria or even extending out to the exotic spice island of Zanzibar or Lamu, or even Mombasa.

Best Safari Planning Ideas & Trip Experiences For Uganda

Below are guide references on how to plan each of the below safari experience in Uganda. Alternatively, go to the summary section for a quick overview of each trip planning experience.

1. How To Plan Uganda Safari Trips? (Summary)

2. Wildlife Safari Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

3. Private & Tailor-Made Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

4. Honeymoon Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

5. Family Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

6. Luxury Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

7. Photo Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

8. Cultural Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

9. Gorilla, Chimpanzee & Primate Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

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