Gorillas in Uganda

Bwindi Forest National park

Home to half of the world’s mountain gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is an exceptional travel destination, a must-visit national park on your Uganda gorilla tour. The impenetrable forest is located in southwestern Uganda shared in Kabale and Rubanda districts on the edge of the Albertine rift covering a total land area of 331 square kilometers. Bwindi Forest is Uganda’s natural forest comprised of montane and lowland forest. It is one of the UNESCO heritage sites due to its rich diversity and ecosystem. Bwindi Forest is home to over 500 mountain gorillas, 120 mammal species, 221 butterflies, 27 frog species, 349 bird species, and many other animals, which include geckos, moths and chameleons among others. Regarding plants, Bwindi forest comprises of over 104 fern species, 163 tree species and over 1000 flowering plants which give food and shelter for the animals living in this impenetrable forest.

History of Bwindi Forest National park
The current Bwindi Forest National park was initially called crown forest reserve which was designated in 1932. The forest was divided into two blocks i.e Kayonza block in the north and Kasatora block in the south. The two blocks were later joined in 1942 and transformed into an animal sanctuary in 1962 majorly for the endangered mountain gorillas. Its name was changed to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest reserve under the management of the Uganda government’s Gama and Forest Departments.   In 1991, Bwindi forest along with the sister Mgahinga forest were designated into national parks hence regaining their current names of Bwindi Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. At this time, the Batwa pygmies who were living in the forest were evicted from the parks and resettled in communities neighboring the forest.

Attractions in Bwindi Forest National park
Mountain gorillas are a major tourist attraction in Bwindi Forest National park. The rain forest is home to over 500 mountain gorillas, which make gorilla trekking the top tourist activity in this park. Gorillas in Bwindi Forest have been habituated into 17 gorilla families namely (Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, Kyaguliro, Nkuringo, Bweza, Nshongi, Oruzogo, Katwe, Christmas, Kauhngye, Busingye, Mishaya, and Bitukura among others. More so, two gorilla families namely Bushaho and Bikyingi are undergoing habituation experience and will be opened to trekking soon. Each gorilla family is visited by a group of eight people per day.

Activities in Bwindi Forest National park

Bwindi Forest offers travelers a variety of tourist activities for a memorable experience.

  • Gorilla trekking is the highlight of tourist activities in Bwindi Forest National park. Over 99% of travelers to Bwindi Forest come to trek gorillas hence the top bucket list of all travelers to southwestern Uganda.
  • Batwa community visits are yet another interesting tourist activity in Bwindi Impenetrable forest National park. Here travelers are guided to batwa villages adjacent to Bwindi Forest for a cultural performance Travelers are introduced to the natural forest life of Batwa ad how they lived in harmony with wild animals for thousands of years.
  • Nature/Forest Walks is a not miss on your Uganda safari to Bwindi Forest National park. Walking through Bwindi forest on foot is the best way to explore and enjoy the beauty of this natural forest. Different walking trails lead to different tourist spots such as to the waterfalls.   Nature walks also give you a chance to meet other wild animals especially different monkey species in this jungle forest.
  • Bird watching: For birders, Bwindi Forest National park is the best spot for bird watching. The rain forest is home to over 350 bird species some of which are endemic to this area. Birds on Bwindi Forest National Park include African green broadbill, Short-tailed warbler, African Emerald Cuckoo, Blue-headed sunbird, Red-headed bluebill, Shelley’s Crimson Wing among others.

Gorilla sectors in Bwindi Forest

Bwindi forest National park is made up of four sectors. These are Buhoma in the north, Ruhija in the east, Nkuringo and Rushga in the southern region of the national park. Each sector is unique in its own kind in terms of location, accessibility and gorilla families. Buhoma sector is easily accessed through Kabale kanungu while Rusha is easily accessed through Kisoro district. Travelers doing Kigali to Bwindi Gorilla trekking are cross through Cyania border to Rushaga or Katuna border to Buhoma sector in the northern region of Bwindi Forest National Park.

How to get to Bwindi Forest National Park?
Bwindi Forest National park can be accessed by road and air transport. The driving time from Kampala/Entebbe to Bwindi forest is roughly 10 hours which is a full day driving while Kigali to Bwindi driving time is roughly 4 hours hence the easiest. Travelers who wan to do a 1-Day Uganda gorilla tour are advised to fly into Kigali Rwanda and cross to trek gorillas in Bwindi Uganda. Alternatively, you can fly from Kajjansi airstrip to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrips in Kabale and kisoro districts respectively from where you are driven  to the respective gorilla sector in Bwindi. Travelers doing a 1Day Uganda gorilla tour from Rwanda setoff from Kigali at 3 am, to catch up with a pre gorilla trekking briefing in Bwindi at 7:00 am.

About gorilla permits in Bwindi
All travelers trekking gorillas in Bwindi Forest National Park are required to have valid gorilla permits as a pass to see these endangered species. A single gorilla permit in Bwindi costs $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for East African residents. Uganda gorilla permits can be booked directly with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) or through Magical Africa Safaris your ultimate gorilla safari company. Also, travelers are advised to book and pay for permits at least 6 months before the trekking date to avoid last-minute disappointments. 

Where to Sleep in Bwindi Forest National Park
Travelers to Bwindi Forest have an endless list of lodges and camps to stay in during their Uganda gorilla safari to Bwindi impenetrable Forest National Park. Both budget, midrange and luxury lodges have been constructed in Bwindi to serve travelers with excellent food and sleeping services ensuring a safe, comfortable and peaceful stay in this natural forest. The top lodges in Bwindi Forest include Buhoma gorilla lodge, Bwindi Forest Lodge, Mahogany Springs Lodge, Gorilla Safari Lodge, Bakiga Lodge, Agandi Lodge, Gorilla Valley Lodge, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Buhoma community Camp, Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, Gift of Nature Lodge and Nkuringo Bwindi lodge among others. These lodges serve you with first-class food and sleeping services at all times of the day and night. Also, these lodges arrange activities such as Batwa community walks and forest walks to make your gorilla safari a complete package. Magical Africa Safaris helps you book accommodation services in Bwindi Forest.

In general, Bwindi Forest National Park offers on your Uganda safari to meet, satisfy and exceed your travel expectations. Contact African Apes Holidays, today, Book your gorilla trip to Bwindi forest and enjoy a stay in this impenetrable natural forest.

Gorilla Safaris in Africa