ahimbe@myattractionsafrica.com
PO Box 303, Mbarara, Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

At the edge of the rift valley in South western Uganda, at altitude between 1,160 meters and 2,607 meters, is a destination I recommend any traveler, tourist or nature lover to visit – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It is spread over a series of steep ridges and valleys and is a source five major rivers that flow into Lake Edward.

Just like its sister national park – Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – it was gazetted as a national park in 1991; making it a permanent sanctuary to over half the entire world’s mountain gorilla population.

Mountain Gorillas cannot survive in captivity, so Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a perfect home for over 400 of them, which live in 35 groups, 14 of which are habituated.

The Mubare gorilla group was the first to be habituated in April 1993 and one group is used for research purposes. The habituated mountain gorillas are in four main sections of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo.

This 128 square mile national park is also home to about 120 mammal species. The notable ones being antelopes, birds, elephants, other primates like the baboons, chimpanzees and colobus monkeys.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Location of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in Kanungu district, in the south western part of Uganda. The park can be reached by air and by road.

By air; there is an airstrip in Nyakabande, Kisoro that can be reached from Entebbe International airport or from Kajansi airfield in Kampala, by scheduled or chartered aircrafts. It is normally a one and a half hour flight. This flight favours visitors who want to go to the southern sector of the national park.

To visit the northern sections of the park, airfields of Kayonza and Savannah are available.

By road; there are various routes that can be taken to get to the national park.

There is the Kampala – Kabale – Kanungu – Buhoma route which covers about 525 kilometers and needs 11 hours to complete your journey.

The Kampala – Ntungamo – Rukungiri – Kihihi – Buhoma route covers requires about 10 hours to cover 490 kilometers.

The Kampala – Kabale – Ruhija – Buhoma route covers about 508 kilometers taking almost 10 hours.

The Kampala – Kabale – Nkuringo route is a 9 hour drive that covers 485 kilometers.

This journey can best be enjoyed using 4 wheel drive vehicle, especially during the rainy season.

When to Visit the National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is known for Mountain Gorilla trekking as the main activity among many and the best time to see them is from January and February and from June to September. These are months with relatively low rains and the sun is out more.

This also a perfect opportunity for bird watchers to check out the more than 350 bird species as well as chimpanzee trekking.

December is a good month too with good weather but it is the busiest since most vacations are planned for that time.

The other months are low seasons due to the rains but the advantage with this is that accommodation becomes cheaper. However, experience has revealed that gorilla trekking can be enjoyed all year round.

Adventure Tourism Activities in Bwindi

Gorilla Trekking

This is the premier activity of this national park. The great thing about Mountain Gorilla trekking is that it happens all year round though there are six months every year when gorilla trekking is at its peak.

Mountain Gorilla trekking is conducted by both Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. However, Bwindi has more gorilla families than Mgahinga and tends to sell more permits. A permit goes for USD 600 and it is recommended the booking is done with a Safari agent. This fee is fair compared to the fee charged by Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda of USD 1,500.

The daily estimate of visitors who take a trip to Bwindi is 70 people, while only 8 people are allowed to see a gorilla family. This is to maintain the gorillas’ fragile natural habitat.

Silverback Gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Cultural Encounters

This wonderful national park allows you to interact with the Batwa pygmies, the first inhabitants of this natural forest. They will show you how they prepare for a hunt, the hunting techniques they used and what they gather to make a living in the jungle.

They protected the Mountain Gorillas as family and considered killing to eat one as cannibalism.

Bird watching

For birdwatchers and birders, this place is ideal to have your moment to see some of the 350 bird species like the Blue-headed Sunbird, the Short-tailed Warbler, the African Emerald Cuckoo, the Dark caped Bulbul, White-tailed Blue Flycatchers and Red-headed Bluebill, among many.

Hiking or Nature Walks

As years go by, this national park is increasingly becoming the ideal place for hiking and nature walks. The hiking trails in this impenetrable forest have been around for hundreds of years, used by The Batwa Pygmy people. The good thing about these trails is that they are moderate and are easy to maneuver even for amateur hikers.

There are six nature trails in Buhoma, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are:

The Muzubijiro Loop is a six kilometer long walk around a hill. The beauty with it is that you will see birds, primates and a view of the Virunga area.

The 14 kilometer Ivi River Walk is a 7-hour journey that will lead you through a place with wild pigs called Mukempunu.

The Muyanga waterfall walk starts from Buhoma along the River Ivi-Nkuringo. The sight of the falls is the main attraction here.

The Rushura hill walk allows a clear view of Lake Edward, Lake George, the Rwenzori Mountains and the conical peaks of the Virunga Volcanoes.

The Habinyanja trail takes 4 to 6 hours along the legendary “African Corner” (a rock piece that looks like the map of Africa).

The Buhoma-Nkuringo 4 hour trail gives good view of the misty hillsides as you cross the park.

Mountain Biking or Cycling

There is a 13 kilometer well maintained trail reserved for mountain biking. It starts from the national park headquarters at Buhoma and ends at the River Ivi. The eye-catching attractions along this trail are the black-and-white colobus monkeys, bush bucks, squirrels, red-tailed monkeys and of course mountain gorillas. The time budget for this is three hours; and don’t forget to carry your water bottle.

Key Facts to have in Mind

Mountain Gorillas should be not be hard for you to distinguish. The males, referred to as Silverbacks, are bigger, usually twice the size of the females. They can grow up to six feet tall and weigh between 150 and 230 kilograms. They are called silverbacks because as they grow older, the hair on their backs turns to a silver looking color.

A male Mountain Gorilla is nine times stronger than the strongest man. The Guinness Book of Records states that a silverback gorilla can lift up to 815 kilograms of dead weight with its 7 feet long arms. They can live up to 50 years.

For hikers, a good pair of walking boots is recommended to get you through the thick forest trails. This should accompanied by wet weather clothing (it can rain any moment), a good hat to shield you from the day sun, and warm clothing for the evenings.

It is recommended that you carry a waterproof bag to protect your electronics, clothes and hiking equipment.

Suitable accommodation is available at the six prime locations of the national park. A good number of them have websites and can be reached online. They charge between USD 150 and USD 900 a night.

Buhoma has 15 safari lodges, Nkuringo has 4, Nyundo has 1, Ruhija has 7, Rubuguri has 2, and Rushaga has 3.

 

Buhoma Lodge in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

 

Conclusion

It is recommended that you choose a suitable Safari package if you are to have the best moments in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Packages for 3 to 9 days range from USD 2,500 and USD 5,500.

36 thoughts on “Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

  1. Excellent blog post on bwindi I have never heard of the place before. I really liked the pictures contained in the post especially the one with the Gorilla and the maps as well. I liked the fact you mentioned activities you can do while there such as hiking etc… overall your site was easy to navigate and I found the fact there was not many distractions such as pops ups etc… did not take away from the post. The post over all was really informative.

    1. Joseph, thank you for your kind review and I am glad this post captured your attention and interest. It is good to read that I have informed you about a new place. Who knows! One day you will visit it. 

  2. Africa is a beautiful place to visit. With abundance of nature and numerous wildlife. Little wonder Africa is becoming one of the top tourists destination worldwide.

    It would really be nice to see the gorillas in their natural habitat. I’ve penciled down bwindi on my bucket list. 

    seeing how strong gorillas are, has there been any reported case of an attack on tourists? And what can we do as tourist to prevent this?

    1. Louis, you are right about Africa tightening its grip on in tourism. It has always had the potential but the challenges used to be accessibility and creating awareness. These bottlenecks are being broken down for the benefit of the visitors and hosts.
      The gorillas that tourists and researchers access are the habituated ones. They are used to human beings and we are guided on how to behave in their presence. So there are no reported cases of attacks.
      Tour guides are always at hand to help tourists as well as protect them in case of any eventuality. 

  3. Just as the topic goes Tourist Attractions Africa, the Bwindi impenetrable national park in Uganda is an amazing place to be, there are so many tourist attractions in africa, at least i have been to the Zanzibar located in the Indian ocean just off the coast of Tanzania. Africa is blessed with tourist attractions, there are so many of them with beautiful and amazing features. Please is there any way you can upload more of the tourist attractions in africa for people to view and maybe someday try and visit Africa?

    1. Destiny, I have liked the fact that you have been to Zanzibar. I shared about it and you can compare notes by reading this http://bit.ly/2tWvdte 
      I will be sharing more of the wonderful places to visit in Africa that have excited many visitors. Thank you for the encouragement.

  4. Wow, I have never thought of exploring nature in Uganda. It doesn’t just come o my mind maybe because I thought there is nothing really fascinating there but reading this article I can see that I’m really missing a lot, Uganda has a lot of great features I will love to visit Uganda especially that impenetrable national Park and I think I will be going there for my vacation . Thanks for bringing this to my notice.

    1. Lok, it is great to me that you have not only known about Uganda and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in particular but have also expressed your willingness to have your vacation in Uganda.
      I hope you will carry the necessary gear to take advantage of the various activities that will be at your exposure.

  5. Thanks for reviewing this amazing Bwindi impenetrable national park in Uganda. I must be sincere I have been to many national parks and I have seen monkeys beyond count but never for once have I see a gorilla. I will really be glad to see it just once and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda seems to be the right place to see them and there are some other tourism activities I will like to take part. I must say it really a place to be for tourism and for me it going to be a lifetime opportunity if I can visit there.

    1. Ajibola, you are welcome to the land of gorillas. You will be spoilt for choice since there are two national parks with mountain gorillas with each offering a unique experience. The good thing about Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the number of gorilla families that are available and even the population alone is as already shared, half of the total in the whole world. What is even more amazing is that they have names.
      Opportunity knocks once, so if it comes, I encourage you to come and have a live view of these gentle giants. 

  6. You have done a good job of selling the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to me, Edgar. 

    I love nature and I love parks, the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park sounds like it has all it takes for a refreshing outing in the woods. 

    The fact that the natural habitats of the gorillas are left undisturbed as much as possible is an interesting feature of the park. 

    1. Peace, it is my pleasure that I have sold you this national park. I am confident that you or your colleagues would have a great time with nature walks, just taking in the fresh air of the jungle. Along the way, there are many other creatures that you would come across that would make the whole experience memorable. 

  7. This is a very good and attractive tourist centre with different kinds of animals and activities all in one couple with accommodation nearby. A good time to visit and explore should be when tourist less visit probably around September. The gorilla trekking, culture encounters, bird watching,mountain biking amongst others shows there is more fun to have coupling with its location. I say its a good place for a tourists to visit

    1. Yormith, the good thing is that now you know the activities that are available. This enables you to make the best preparations when you decide to travel to Bwindi. The other advantage is that there are other national parks and game reserves nearby that enrich your travel options.

  8. Thanks for sharing this article about Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda Africa. I have heard about Uganda having one of the best wildlife national park in world. This national park would be a great place to visit. Having an opportunity to birdwatching, hiking walk in Bwindi would an awesome experience. It is my dream to visit this park in Uganda. I hope I can someday. Thanks for this article. 

    1. Olalekan, you seem to be interested in hiking. This is a good sport especially in this natural setting where you get a unique experience of not only bird watching but also enjoying the beautiful scenery. If you carry a camera, the pictures will be breathtaking and you will capture treasured memories. 

  9. Hi Edgar,

    This is a standard review for nature lovers. After reading your article, I would like to see the charming beauty of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Africa means full of adventures indeed. I don’t want to miss the chance to see birds and gorilla in the park surrounding by mountains. Thank you sincerely for the wonderful review with a nice video and a map as well.
    Regards,
    Ranao.

    1. Ranao, if you are a nature lover, this is your place to visit. I recommend a 5-day Safari tour, as it will allow you to take in the beautiful scenery that Uganda has on display. 
      The Uganda Wildlife Authority has taken the necessary measures to ensure that they protect these powerful but shy gorillas so that in future you can find them.

  10. Hello,

    So I really enjoyed your site. Now I have to admit, I do not know much about Africa, but its beauty and attractions make it a place of uniqueness. As you explain well in your site details. Very good.I have to admit, I did get a bit confused on the home page. I do believe you were referring to one place, but me being a green horn here, You mentioned a couple of tourists places and for me it would have been a bit better if you make sure your reader understands where you are. Now again that is just my opinion, other than that, it is great.

    I enjoy how you talk about the different animals at certain places. very interesting. I’m not sure, Maybe if you could also give some services as to your direct point you are talking about. I know for me, I get totally lost, so any amount of help would be excellent. Thank you.

    George

    1. George, this is the time you should probe Africa more and know about it long-hidden gems.
      I like your opinion on the issues you raised and I will bring more clarity with the About Me page to let the readers know me better and I will be more than glad to avail you with information regarding specific services you require.

  11. Hi Edgar,
    I really enjoyed your post. Africa has always been a dream of mine and your blog it’s just a joy to read. So much useful information and the pictures! MY!
    Well done!

  12. This is an informative and educative article. You have thoroughly put everything in perspective for anyone reading this post to understand the points. This is a lovely tourist attraction, I have read about it before but I have never tasted its benefits this much. This is where I plan to visit during my next summer holiday. Thanks for the eye-opener.

    1. Ola, you are welcome to Bwindi next summer holiday and I am sure you will have a good time. There are plenty of activities that will make it a fun-filled holiday. It is my pleasure that you have found this article informative to you.

  13. Thanks for writing out this lovely article and I must say its a must for everyone to read and digest.Africa is one of the most beautiful place to visit talking about Nature. 

    I haven’t heard about this bwindi national park before, but this article gave a well clean pictures of how it looks like. I love the gorilla picture I saw and I would make it a plan to visit the bwindi impenetrable national park soon. I would love to visit with my partner. Thanks for the review and the information. Regards

    1. Adamuts, thank you for the comment about Africa in regard to its beauty and nature. 
      It is good you now know about Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and I know your partner and you will have a wonderful moment when you make it there.
      I recommend the Muyanga Waterfall Walk as a must visit for you when at the park as you will have wonderful photo moments that will impress you.

  14. Africa has so many beautiful tourist attractions. So much so that one could take a whole year off and still not be able to see all that the continent has to offer. I was going to say that the cost of the Gorilla was exorbitant, but I quickly realized that much people shouldn’t be able to afford this or they would run the Gorillas out of their homes with such crowds that would be lining up for an experience.

    Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is definitely a place to visit. Even if the Gorilla trek doesn’t happen, we can explore the different cultures in and around the Park and revel in the richness of these cultures. I know I would enjoy that for sure.

    1. Vapz, the African continent is vast and I agree with you it would take a long time just to visit the key sites.
      I would like you to look at the cost of the gorilla permit to be a contribution towards the preservation of these gentle beast. As you know they are an endangered species and a lot is done to maintain their habitat and welfare.

      The more the visitors the better; only that only 80 people are allowed to visit a gorilla family a day, so booking is key. However, if you book through a Safari company, you are sure you will get value for money.

  15. Hello,

    After reading your article, I realized that Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda is really nice place to visit and I have never considered visiting before. Opposite to most touristic places that I know, this park offers a way to connect with nature, go away from big cities and crowded places. The images complement well the purpose of the article. 

    I hope someday I have the chance to visit the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and see everything showed in the pictures through my own eyes. 

    Your website’s topic is really interesting and I am thrilled to learn more about Africa and other wonderful places to visit there!

    1. Mariana, I know when you put your mind to it, that day will come when you come over to Bwindi. This national park is near other wonderful national parks that you would like to check out like Mgahinga Gorilla National park http://bit.ly/2TyOGje which has similar attractions but with a different background.

      Thank you for the kind remarks about the website and I hope more informative content will be posted.

  16. Interesting post on Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. It is like I have never heard of the place before. But with this exhaustive review post it like I have been; as I have begun to imagine how the experience will be. I really liked the pictures contained in the post especially the one with the Gorilla and the maps as well. it fascinating.
    I learnt that it is just like its sister national park – Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which was gazetted as a national park in 1991; making it a permanent sanctuary to over half the entire world’s mountain gorilla population.
    Those Adventure Tourism Activities in Bwindi are really my attractions for visiting such a place of pleasures especially hiking.  I think I will be going there for my vacation . Thanks for bringing helpful post to us.

    1. Topaz, if you are more into adventure, then look no further than Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. 
      Nature walking and the mountain biking will leave a lasting impression that you will live to tell for years; and of course your favorite sport – hiking. 
      It is nice to read that you will be traveling purposely to have your vacation over. It is a good decision I must say.

  17. Many thanks. This is a good read. I enjoy travelling with my family, and I like the way you described Bwindi. Though I have heard of Uganda, but hearing of Bwindi Impenetrable National park for the first time. Your description of the place looks fascinating. Let me ask, why is impenetrable part of the name? Is there any historical event attached to this? I hope to visit this place soon during the summer.

    1. Tolu, I like the idea of you for travelling with your family, for you don’t have to experience wonderful things alone. 
      I am glad that now you know about this national park in Uganda.
      Bwindi is a local language (Runyakitara) word meaning “Impenetrable”.
      The forest has a thick ground cover of plants that make access on foot a bit hard with many preferring to call it the “place of darkness”. I think this qualifies it to be called impenetrable. 

  18. Ever since I watched “Gorillas in the mist”, these magnificent animals amaze me. They are so similar to humans I can barely think or treat them like animals. Unfortunately, my dream to watch them in their habitat is dead (for the time being). I can’t afford the permit but the hope is the last to die. I am sure I will find a lot of affordable things to do in Uganda. Thank you for this excellent read, Ahimbe!

    1. Effie, your hopes should not be extinguished since time is on your side. The good thing is that you are already past the first hurdle of getting all the necessary information, then next step us to check out other related activities. With conservation efforts in place, you will see the gorillas too at a point in time.

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