Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Supporting nearly half of the world’s estimated 1000 mountain gorilla population, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is situated along the Great Rift Valley. As the name suggests, it is an area of almost impassibly dense rainforest spread over a network of valleys and ridges, carving a silhouette of undulating peaks into the skyline.
Dating back over 25,000 years, this is one of Africa’s oldest and most captivating parklands; its bamboo and swamp forests provide the ideal environment for the gorilla population that call it home.
It is the only forest in Africa in which the gorillas and chimpanzees successfully co-exist.
Granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1994, Bwindi’s altitude ranges from 1,106 metres to 2,607 metres and in true rainforest-style, it receives up to 1,500mm of rain annually. The gorilla trekking within Bwindi can be challenging, but the rewards are unmistakable and your first glance at the gorillas in their natural habitat will be one that stays with you for life.
What to Expect in Bwindi
There are currently four families of habituated gorillas in Bwindi that can be tracked in the Buhoma area; Habinyanja, Rushegura, Mubare and Orozugo. There are another six families, making ten in total, that are habituated in the Bwindi area, some requiring overnights in Buhoma or Nkuringo if you wish to track them. In addition to the 400 habituated gorillas in the park there are 120 other mammals that you can see, including a range of other primates such as chimpanzee, red-tailed monkey, black and white colobus and blue monkey.
It is also a place that will satisfy keen ornithologists, with a total of 350 bird species having been recorded within Bwindi, making it one of Uganda’s main birding areas.
- History: the park was established in 1991 and was granted a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994.
- Unique for: the estimated 320 mountain gorillas which live here.
- Did you know: some parts of the rainforest is covered in 25,000 year old mist.
- Wildlife spotting opportunities: baboons chimpanzees and elephants can be spotted here.
The main attraction in Bwindi is its mountain gorillas. Of its population of approximately 400 individuals, more than a hundred are habituated. Bwindi Impenetrable national park has more than 120 mammal species, the second most of any park in Uganda (after Queen Elizabeth NP). Most of these are small forest species. Elephant is the only one of the Big Five that is present, although they are rarely seen. More regularly encountered are some of the six antelope species, which include bushbuck and several types of duiker.
Bwindi is located on the edge of the Albertine Rift, a region harboring the most vertebrates in any region of a comparable size in Africa. It contains a huge number of endemic and threatened species and is therefore a hotspot in conservation. Butterflies are something of a specialty, with an impressive list of 220 species, eight of which are endemic to the Albertine Rift and three only occur in Bwindi Impenetrable National park. Bwindi is home to ten primate species including the rare l’Hoest monkey and black-and-white colobus. Chimpanzee are present but not habituated and therefore rarely seen.
Tracking gorillas is best when Bwindi’s trails are not so sodden and the sunshine is greater (June to August and December to February). Slippery trails and unrelenting mist make wildlife watching more challenging during the wetter months of the year, although migratory birds do appear at such times.
Our expertise of the area means that we know the best lodges for you to base yourself in, with Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge being one of our most popular. This unique eco-lodge puts you in the heart of the atmospheric Impenetrable Forest, with fantastic views. Here you will be accommodated in bandas (traditional huts), under which gorilla families have been known to sleep! Located within the park’s boundaries the luxury Gorilla Forest Camp is also highly recommended. To track the gorillas you will need to obtain a permit and there is a quota of just 24 per day. We highly recommend planning your trip as early as possible, buying your permits well in advance of travelling if possible.