Bwindi Impenetrable

OVERVIEW

Regardless of the time of the year you visit Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you have a 95% chance of encountering one of the most glorious and endangered species left on earth, Mount Gorillas. Covering a surface area of 321 Km2, Bwindi is an ecologically diverse tropical forest in the in the Albertine Rift Valley (western Uganda). It is also home to 350 species of birds, inclusive of 23 Albertine Rift endemics.

Of the four national parks in the Greater Virunga highlands where one can track mountain gorilla species, it has the highest number of habituated gorilla families, 19 of them. Rwanda’s Volcanoes N/P has 10 and Congo’s Virunga N/P has 8.  The extra big news with Bwindi is that its gorilla trekking experience still costs $700, compared to Volcanoes National Park where it has been increased from $750-$1,500.

In the interest of effective management, this UNESCO World Heritage site is divided into four zones, each with at least four gorilla families. These include Ruhijja, Nkuringo, Rushaga and Buhoma. Each of these offers a relatively different experience as they lie in different altitudes, ranging from 1,160m – 2,607m above sea level. Of the four, Ruhija offers the toughest climbing challenge as it has lots of V shaped valleys and steep slopes.

According to results of a census that was released in May 2018, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has over 450 resident gorillas. This choice of the park as a preferred habitat is thanks to abundance of edible vegetation species and fruits. Beyond keeping them looking healthy, it makes them over five times stronger than average man. Their weight ranges between 68 to 181 kilograms, depending on their gender. Despite being powerful enough to be able to crush anything that comes their way, they are peace loving beasts. This makes visiting them totally safe for you.

During your trip with us, we will organize for you a visit to a gorilla family that comprises of members of different age brackets; blackbucks, silverbacks, mothers, babies and juveniles. This will enable you compare and contrast how body features of gorillas keep evolving as they grow. You will also notice that the males are so protective of the females and babies in their groups. This explains why they prefer to graze at the edges of the territory, to keep a watchful eye on any invaders. Gorillas live in a patriarchal society setting where a robust alpha male called Silverback is in command. He is the only male in his group with exclusive rights to mate with any female of choice. The rest can only do so in their dreams.

Bird watching in Bwindi Forest

If bird watching is your cup of coffee, you will leave Bwindi with a radiant smile. The park has over 340 recorded species thriving in its patches of bamboo, montane forests and marshes. One of the areas where you stand high chances of sighting birds is Mubwindi, a montane swamp after which the park is named. Common sightings here are Shining-blue kingfisher, Yellow-eye black-flycatcher, Grauer’s broadbill, Lagden’s Bush-shrike, White starred robbin, Archer’s ribin-chat, Dusky crimsonwing, Black faced apalis, Eastern Mountain greenbul, White headed woodhoopoe and White headed woodhoopoe among others.

Be sure to carry your binoculars. Most birds tend to spend much of their day in the canopy with the intent of accessing the warmth of the sun.

Things to do in Bwindi…

In summary, you can do Gorilla Tracking, Gorilla habituation experience, Nature walks, Community visits, Bird watching and more

Bird Watching

Nature Walks From Buhoma

There is quite a number of nature walks that allow you the opportunity to explore the beauty of the forest. They are all fruitful and will offer chances to see lots of primates and forest bird species better still endemics you cannot find anywhere else.

Waterfall Trail In Bwindi

This is considered the best of all nature walks. Its takes around 3hours on a 2km raw path of the forest leading you to a 33m high beautiful waterfall. 0ther trails to look out for are Rushara Hill Trailand Mazubiro Loop Trail. These take up to 3hours and offer spectacular views of the Virunga ranges.

Village Walks

If you have a thing for culture, Bwindi will not leave you disappointed. These walks will allow to experience the lifestyles of Batwa, the first short people of the forest and Bakiga. Some experiences to choose from include but are not limited to Coffee experience, the Traditional medicine man, local beer, cultural performances like fire making and dances by the Batwa.

Batwa Visits

These are carried out on a beautiful private forest that extends from Bwindi Forest. These provide amazing experiences of the Batwa’s traditional forest life. This walk and experience takes about a day but time can depend on your schedule and interest.

Best time to visit

If you wish to see gorillas without interruptions from the rain, the best times to visit are the relatively dry seasons from June to August and December to February. During these seasons, the gorilla tracking trails are drier and therefore less slippery.

Travel tip

In case you wish to travel light in the forest, there are local porters available for hire. For just $15, they will give you a helping hand throughout the adventure. They will also give you a push as you counter steep slopes and help you focus on where you are stepping. This will enable you overcome slippery stretches of the forest.

Lodges Of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Buhoma Lodge

Not only is this luxurious property located inside the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, it is less than five minutes’ walk away from the starting point for gorilla trekking. It is one of the few lodges in the park where mountain gorillas make surprise visits. This mostly happens as they cross over from one side of the forest to the other in search for food. The lodge boasts of 8 chalets, each of which is tucked in a quiet part of the jungle. It thus enables guests to connect with nature without any interruptions from walk-in clients. It’s a great place to sit back and chill with a book in one palm and hot Ugandan coffee in the other.

Still on the part of chalets, the mountain cabins here are rustic and have a small front porch with fire pit. The rooms are spacious and well ventilated to allow in the pristine freshness of the forest. Each cabin also boat of a soaking tub and large stone shower.

At night, you will be given a hot water bottle to warm up your bed.

If you need a massage after that exhausting gorilla trekking excursion, the lodge has a mini health club where you will be treated to a healing holiday. Further to that, your clothes and shoes will be washed for free. This is a big plus considering that you will be quite a mess by the time gorilla trekking gets done.

Mahogany Springs

In brief, this lodge is intimate, lavish and remote.

One of the things that keep visitors coming back here is that everything is made with great attention to detail. This cuts across from the way the roof is beautiful thatched to the way the food is presented. Mahogany is one of the only three lodges in Bwindi National Park with a Presidential suite. It is huge, with a wide living area and two bedrooms with their own bathrooms–each with good water pressure. The suites further boast of an outside terrace where you can bond with loved ones.

The ordinary cottages are equally roomy and well equipped with everything you expect of a four star safari lodge. They have two king beds and a cozy bathroom that lives up to the hype of unrivaled luxury.

As you catch fresh air from the comfort of your veranda, your jaws will drop in admiration of the sense of serenity flowing over you. You will also be enchanted by views of mountain ranges upon which Bwindi lies. Each cottage has small fruit garden that gives the setting a homely feel. Through the day, lots of playful monkeys come by for relaxation before fleeing out of sight.

During your holiday at Mahogany Springs, you will be treated to relaxing sounds of a river that flows from the heart of Bwindi to the respective streams in Buhoma. Along the way, it forms ponds with crystal clear water where you can swim without worrying about drowning. They are not that deep.

Prior to your departure, you will have an opportunity to plant a tree that will never be cut down for the rest of its life. It will be named after you in your commemoration. Put simply, a piece of you will stay here for eternity even when you are thousands of miles away.

Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp

It is very rare for Mountain Gorillas to wander into a place with humans, let alone stay there for long. However when they do, then you know there is something extraordinary about it. In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, one such place is Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp. It receives over 30 surprise visits from Mountain Gorillas every year. Most of them camp here for at least thirty minutes as they wander in its well-mowed lawns. This is how it came to be called gorilla forest camp.

According to Gorilla Doctors in the park, the frequent visits of these gentle giants to the lodge is caused by the fact that they can easily relate with it because it is ecologically respectful. Sanctuary scores highly in terms of distinctive architecture, use of natural materials, and the integration of design with a montane-forest surrounding. It’s interior is largely made of well-polished wood. The furniture and beddings have a strong African feel because they have indigenous prints. The eight tents here are cool and chick. Each has two queen sized beds and a huge bathtub that faces the jungle’s canopy. There is also a mini spa that offers a wide selection of treatments. You can think of it as a great place to rest as you listen to the forest’s sounds.

For much of the year, the weather here is sunny and great for pursuing the various outdoor activities such as bird-watching and nature walk.

Most excitingly, Sanctuary is few minutes away from the starting point of your gorilla trekking adventure.

Bwindi Lodge

This luxurious destination that offers top notch views of one of Africa’s 7 Natural Wonders, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

It is over 10 years old, but you will have a hard time believing that because it looks opulent and new. This is thanks to a yearlong renovation that took place in 2017. The result is an inviting guest lounge and a dining area with a spectacular atmosphere. In the lodge’s living arena, you will find a stylish fireplace where you can mix and mingle with fellow gorilla enthusiasts.

The eight individual bandas here are stocked with four poster beds and handmade furniture. They(bandas) are ideal for those wanting absolute privacy and solitude.  You will be blown way by them if you are looking for a place for honeymoon or a family-friendly hotel to travel with small  children.  Wherever you chose to stay while here, you will spot playful monkeys and birds hidden in the foliage.

Regardless of whether you are a foodie or not, the cuisines here will leave you speechless. The lodge’s chef has a reputation for making foods that tickle the taste buds. Most of these are of inter-continental dishes but prepared with a Ugandan touch. The result of this mix is finger licking food that many can’t say no to. It attracts as many countless mid-range tourists even from surrounding Five star lodges. They prefer dining here to their hotels.

The showers are good with lots of hot water, offering a much needed revitalization after a daylong adventure in the forest.

Engagi Lodge

Not only will you have sensory views of Bwindi’s tropical forest from this lodge, you will feel its positive energy and immerse yourself in it’s tranquility. It sits at the foot of a mountain range upon whose slopes the park is majestically spread.

Engagi takes the meaning of eco-friendly to the next level. It was built using local materials that existed at the lodge’s current location when it was still within the park’s boundaries. This includes rocks and eucalyptus as harvested by locals. The lodge consists of just 8 en-suite cottages, all of which are powered by solar energy. They are well spaced from each other and tucked in utterly green surroundings.

All the décor in Engagi’s rooms are handmade and colorful. The usage of banana fibers to thatch its rooms is inspired by a traditional architectural style that dates back to the prehistoric times. Thanks to the way they are carefully weaved, they are good at absorbing heat and thus offer a cool ambiance.

Whether you prefer double or twin beds, this lodge is for you. Its bathrooms are ensuite and have constant supply of warm water.

The staff mostly comprise of locals who have grown up seeing and mingling with mountain gorillas as the park is in their ancestral village. As such, they have lots of real-life stories to share with you over camp fire. Further to that, they are helpful in suggesting and arranging activities you can pursue during your stay. Such includes a hike to the waterfalls in the forest, and a village walk, both of which go a long way in enabling you see Bwindi from a different perspective.