Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Bwindi Uganda
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in south-western Uganda on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley. It spans the districts of Rukungiri, Kabale and Kisoro, sprawling over steep ridges and narrow valleys of the Kigezi Highlands. Its mist-covered hillsides are covered by one of the oldest and most diverse rainforests in Uganda, Bwindi Forest, which dates back over 2,500 years and contains about 400 species of plants. It is most famous for protecting about 400 mountain gorillas, almost half the world's population and a number of groups of these great apes have been habituated. The park receives thousands of visitors each year that come to track the gorillas
Bwindi constitutes an important water catchment area and is source of five major rivers including Ivi, Munyaga, Ihihizo, Ishasha and Ntengyere which flow into Lake Edward. It has a tropical climate receiving with annual mean temperatures ranging from minimum 7 - 15oC to max 20 - 27oC. Peak rainfall occurs from March to April and September to November.
Bwindi lies in one of the most densely populated regions of Uganda. Over 1000 families most of which are of the Bakiga and Bafumbira tribes cultivate the land immediately surrounding the park. Their growing need for more land to settle and cultivate poses a big threat to the park. There is also a small number of the primitive Batwa (pygmies). These depend on gathering and hunting in the forest.
FLORA AND FAUNA OF BWINDI NATIONAL PARK
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the richest eco systems in Africa. It hosts an immense diversity of species which have accumulated over the last 2000 years. To begin with Bwindi is the most diverse forest in East Africa for tree species, ferns and other taxa. About 324 tree species have been record with 10 of them not known to occur anywhere in the world. It also hosts more than 104 fern species. The dense ground cover of herbs, vines and shrubs make it hard to penetrable on feet and walk, hence the name "impenetrable".
Bwindi Forest hosts one of the richest fauna in East Africa that includes more than 214 species of forest birds, 7 species of diurnal primate, 120 species of mammals and 202 species of butterflies. Bwindi is habitat to 9 globally threatened species, the most significant being almost half of the world's population of the mountain gorillas. Others include common chimpanzee, l'Hoest monkeys, endangered species of African elephant, African green broadbill, Grauer's rush warbler, chaplains fly catcher, African giant swallowtail, and the cream-banded swallowtail.
BWINDI ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES
Gorilla trekking is the major activity in Bwindi National Park. Bwindi is home to about 400 mountain gorillas which accounts for almost half of the world population. 12 groups have been habituated with 11 available for gorilla trekking and 1 for research purposes. To track the Bwindi gorillas you require a permit which is issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Note that a maximum of 8 permits are issued per day for a particular group. This limitation means you need to book your gorilla tour atleast two months in advance so you won't miss out on the permit for your preferred day. Trekking starts at 8.00am and could take from a minutes to an entire day depending on how fast you locate the gorillas. When you eventually locate them you are allowed not more than one hour with them. The trek is quite strenuous hence fitness is major requirement.
With more than 214 species of forest birds, Bwindi is a great birding destination. Bwindi has a number of birds that are hard to come by in the other areas of East African that include among others Yellow-eyed black Fly catcher, Bar-tailed Trogon, Warbler, the honey guide, ground thrush, Gruel's Rush Warbler and kivi
There is no better way to experience Bwindi's magnificent eco system than via an ambient nature walk. Bwindi has a number of well established walking trails you can explore and view a lot of wildlife including primates, birds, butterflies, trees and shrubs.
Visit the local communities to experience the rich cultures of the Batwa, Bakiga and Bafumbira including the local dances, local dishes, housing, family lifestyle.
GETTING TO BWINDI NATIONAL PARK
Bwindi is located about 540 km from Kampala and takes about 8 to 10 hours of drive. There are a number of access routes to park and the route taken usually depends on which part of the park you are getting. The three major areas of Bwindi are Buhoma, Nkuringo and Ruhiija.
-> Kampala - Kasese through Ishasha - Kihihi - Butogota to Buhoma
-> Kampala - Mbarara through Ishasha - Kihihi - Butogota to Buhoma
-> Kampala - Mbarara through Rukungiri - Kihihi - Butogota to Buhoma
-> Kampala - Kabale to Ruhija
-> Kampala - Kabale through Ruhija to Nkuringo
-> Kampala - Kabale to Nkuringo
One can get a private charter flight from Kajjansi airfield or Entebbe and land off from Kisoro airstrip. For those going to Buhoma lanf off at Kayonga airstrip.