BWINDI GORILLA SAFARIS & TREKKING TOURS
What Gorilla Safari Attractions & Tour Activities To Experience During Your Bwindi Visit?Imagine the lush environs of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and the first thought that comes to mind is probably the famed mountain gorillas. If you are a wildlife enthusiast, you are probably aware that these magnificent herbivorous apes are found only in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Although most safari travelers visit the reserve with the hope of viewing its most famous denizens, they are often delighted to learn how many other wonders abound here. The reserve has a rich diversity of plant life, with species that are hardy enough to have survived the last Ice Age, and some are more than 25,000 years old.
- Exploring the habitat of the rare mountain gorillas that are found in these lofty mountains
- Nature walks through the forest over the Munyanga River Trail, Rushura Hill Trail, Waterfall Trail, Muzabajiro Loop Trail, and Bamboo Trail to view the incredible diversity of flora and fauna
- Possibility of spotting many of the 350 species of birdlife that exist in Bwindi
- Cultural interaction with the Batwa Pygmy people to learn about their sustainable lifestyle
- Unique mountain bicycling tours with Ride 4 A Woman program
You can opt to follow trails including the Munyanga River Trail, Rushura Hill Trail, Waterfall Trail, Muzabajiro Loop Trail, and Bamboo Trail, to name a few. Some of these safari walks offer a sample of the park’s immense natural beauty, while others present great opportunities for birdwatchers in Uganda to observe some of the amazing avian life that is present in the park’s varied habitats. The expert guide accompanying you will help identify the species you encounter and explain interesting facts about their behaviors. They will also be able to tell you about the symbiotic relationships between the park’s wildlife in this beautifully balanced biome. Visitors have the opportunity to spot some of the 350 species on their holiday in the reserve.
There’s more to a visit to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park than flora and fauna. For many, the opportunity to visit the local communities living on the outskirts of the park is another highlight. Your cultural trip in Uganda will no doubt be enriched by a glimpse of their traditional living styles, which are intertwined with – and spring from – a deep respect for nature. You’ll gain an understanding of the Batwa Pygmy people’s hunter-gatherer way of life and learn how they draw on indigenous plants for medicine. You’ll see how they use the forest resources for food, art, and crafts, taking only what they need and wasting nothing. Those interested in legends will enjoy hearing about the ancient mysticism and historical lore of their environs.
A visit to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offers various recreational opportunities, as well – all the better to enjoy this fabulous environment. For instance, you could enjoy a canoeing trip to explore Lake Mutanda, or perhaps opt for a mountain-bike cycling tour. Hiring a bike to ride into the Buhoma sector helps support the ‘Ride 4 a woman’ program, which empowers local women by helping them learn new skills so they can better care for their families and improve their lives.
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Our Top 6 Safari Activities In Bwindi - Things You Can Do & See
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1. Gorilla Trekking Safari - The Highlight Of Your Bwindi Tour In Uganda
- Trekking through the forest to locate the gorilla family allotted to you
- Over 450 individuals found in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest living in 19 habituated gorilla families
- Each family lead by a massive silverback male possibly weighing more than 200 kg (440 lbs)
- Only one group of 8 visitors allowed to visit a gorilla family per day
- Opportunity to learn about the ongoing conservation efforts to protect these gentle giants
The precious hour you are allowed in their company – which is for the protection of the gorillas in Uganda – is likely to seem inadequate at first sight. But if you’re like most safari visitors, you will come away enthralled, awed, and fascinated by the experience of watching their behavior in the wild. Watch the giant family patriarch, known as a silverback, keeping a close eye on his family and leading them away, should he sense even the smallest danger. Marvel at the gentleness and intelligence that these magnificent apes display.
To protect the gorilla families and their habitat in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, just one group of 8 visitors is allowed in the company of each family per day. In all, only 160 permits are issued in Bwindi on any given day tracking one of the 19 habituated families and 1 semi-habituated family, which helps minimize the gorillas’ exposure to humans and limit the possibility of illnesses being communicated to the animals. This program serves the purpose of educating people touring Uganda on the importance of conserving these rare creatures, as well as raising funds that will support ongoing research and protection activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, one of just three remaining havens left in the world for mountain gorillas.
- Bitukura Gorilla Family
- Oruzogo Gorilla Family
- Kyaguliro Gorilla Family
- Mukiza Gorilla Family
- Mubare Gorilla Family
- Habiyanja Gorilla Family
- Rushegura Gorilla Family
- Katwe Gorilla Family
- Binyido Gorilla Family
- Nkuringo Gorilla Family
- Bushaho Gorilla Family
- Christmas Gorilla Family
- Mishaya Gorilla Family
- Nshongi Gorilla Family
- Kahungye Gorilla Family
- Bweza Gorilla Family
- Busingye Gorilla Family
- Bukingi Gorilla Family (Semi habituated)
- Kutu Gorilla Family
- Mucugunzi Gorilla Family
2. Birdwatching Tours In Bwindi Forest
- Habitat of around 350 avian species of which 23 are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley
- Possibility of sighting 100 or more varieties during bird watching excursions
- Visiting prime birding locales like Ruhija and Buhoma
The prime African birdwatching safari locales in Bwindi Forest are Buhoma and Ruhija. Here, you may be able to see and photograph species such as the dusky twinspot, montane double-collared sunbird, yellow-eyed flycatchers, Lagden’s bush shrike, dwarf honeyguide, African green broadbill, Chaplin’s flycatcher, and Oberlander’s ground thrush, making your tour holiday truly memorable.
3. Nature Hiking Excursions Through Bwindi Trails
- Oldest living forests in the world estimated to dating back to over 25,000 years
- Home to 120 mammal species, 51 reptiles, 88 moths, 310 butterflies, 350 birds, 10 primates, and 400 plan species
- Following the Kajembehajambe Trail for bird watching or viewing a fabulous waterfall or Munyanga River Trail for visiting the Bizenga Creek
- Taking the Waterfall Trail, Rushura Hill Trail, or Muzabajiro Loop Trail each offering different experiences
- Other options like River Ivi Trail, Guest House Nature Hill Trail, and Bamboo Trail
The Rushaga locale allows you to explore the Kajembehajambe Trail, which can be completed in 3 to 5 hours. Two of the trails will take you through forests, while the third leads to a fabulous waterfall. You can also go birdwatching from Rushaga, a tour that lasts about 6 hours. The Buhoma and Nkuringo gates both act as bases for a wide range of hiking expeditions. If you prefer a short stroll along the river bank, try the Munyanga River Trail, which takes only about 15 to 20 minutes and loops around Bizenga Creek.
As the name suggests, the Waterfall Trail in Bwindi Park takes you to see cascades as high as 33 meters. The trail takes about 3 hours to walk, following a half-complete road to Kisoro, with delightful sightings of monkeys and birds along the way. The Rushura Hill Trail takes about the same amount of time but is steeper and a bit more challenging. It takes you to the highest spot in the Buhoma region, Rushura Hill. This walk provides scenic vistas of the Rwenzori Mountains, Lake Edward, the Virunga Volcanoes, and the Western Rift Valley. The Muzabajiro Loop Trail is moderately steep and also takes 3 hours. Choose this excursion for incredible views and sightings of age-old ferns, as well as other primates.
Yet another interesting trail in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the River Ivi Trail, which leads you to the southern rim of the reserve and takes about 6 hours to complete. This safari holiday expedition will treat you to encounters with monkeys, various bird species, and duikers. The hour-long Guest House Nature Trail and the 6-hour Bamboo Trail are possible explorations that begin at Ruhija.
4. Cultural Interactions & Tour Visits To Tribal Communities In Bwindi
- Visiting the communities of the Batwa and Bakiga people, original inhabitants of the park
- Understanding the traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle in the Buniga Forest
- Participating in cooking activities and music and dance performances
- Shopping at the souvenir store to buy handicrafts in support of local artisans
- Sampling authentic ground coffee at the village cafe
The Batwa Pygmy people, also called the “Keepers of the Forest,” inhabit the Bwindi and Mgahinga Forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. A cultural safari tour will take you to a village where you can learn how to make alcohol from banana leaves and medicines from plants. Each trip takes around 3 hours and also allows you to participate in cooking with forest produce, including mushrooms, wild honey, and yams. You will be treated to music and dance performances given by women and orphaned children, and perhaps even get a chance to try hand-ground coffee in the village coffee shop. Before you leave, stop by the souvenir store to buy small, handmade mementos of your stay in the reserve.
5. Mountain Bike Rides In The Buhoma Sector
- Guided mountain bike rides founded by Rubalema Denis and Habasa Evelyne sustainability program called Ride 4 A woman
- Participating in programs designed to support and provide a livelihood to the women of the Buhoma Village
- Exploring the forests aboard a bicycle that you can hire for 3 hours
You can rent a bicycle for 3 hours and cycle safari the forest and communities in the company of an expert guide. The community will also provide helmets for your safety. Since 2012, a team of Australians has been working to expand the bicycle program. They’ve set up additional initiatives that train women in English, sewing, bicycle repair, making crafts, and weaving textiles.
6. Gorilla Habituation Experience In Bwindi
- Understanding the habituation process where individual members are given time to become accustomed to the presence of humans
- Spending time with researchers to learn about their conservation activities
- Spending 4 hours with a gorilla family undergoing habituation
- Excursion permits priced at $1500 per person
- All proceeds go toward funding further research and preservation programs
Participate in Tracking Specific Families Undergoing HabituationBwindi Impenetrable National Park has a total of 19 gorilla families, which are accessible from four different areas i.e Buhoma sector, Ruhija sector, Rushaga sector, or Nkuringo sector. Of the 19 families, one is only semi-habituated – the Bikingi group, which lives in Rushaga. These groups form part of the Gorilla Habituation Experience program, which was initiated in 2016 by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Taking part in this program is a different experience from a regular gorilla trekking trip in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Being a unique activity, the park permit costs $1,500 per person.
Understanding the Habituation ProcessShould you sign up for the Gorilla Habituation Experience, you will be assigned to a particular group of 4 guests at 7:30 am start time from the trailhead. You should be prepared to navigate very difficult terrain on a full day experience. If you are not fit or have a heart condition, do not attempt to book the Gorilla Habituation Experience. It is very strenuous as it involves trekking for many hours including ascending and descending the mountains of Bwindi Forest. However, the hard work will pay off. You will be able to spend around 4 hours with the gorilla group that is undergoing the habituation process, an activity available only in Bwindi Park (best time to go). Watch and photograph the gorillas as the adults groom one another, look for food, and observe their babies playing together under the watchful of the dominant silverback. You will also develop an understanding of the rangers dedication and the challenges they face when habituating the animals so that adventurous safari vacationers can spend time with them.
During the habituation process, the park rangers may conduct a few trial encounters with the guests who are strangers to the gorillas. If the gorilla family accepts its visitors and is comfortable with them, the ranger and guides will allow more interaction with them. Note that the guides accompanying you may choose to end the experience early if the gorillas start to show signs of being frightened, hide, or behave in a way that is different from normal. The earnings from these visits fund further research and conservation programs that can better protect the famed gorillas. Take part in a typical day in the life of a gorilla in the misty forests. You will find that it is an immersive feeling like no other – and one that you will remember and cherish forever.
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GUIDE ON BWINDI PARK
Standing on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley at a UNESCO World Heritage site, Bwindi is known for the amazing biodiversity. The highlight of your safari in Bwindi Park is undoubtedly the gorilla-viewing experience.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 UgandaBelow 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.READ MORE
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