It is one of the most biologically diverse areas on Earth, where half the surviving population of the endangered Mountain Gorilla lives in its jungles.
The forest has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its biological significance.
Bwindi is a large primeval forest located in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the Albertine Rift. Designated as a national park in 1991, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park now covers an area of 331 km2 and ranges in altitude from 1100 to 2600m. The climate in the park is tropical with annual mean temperature ranges from 7 to 27oc and rainfall ranges from 1,400 to 1,900 millimetres.
The park’s forests are afro-montane, a rare vegetation type found only on the African continent. The park has over 220 tree species and 100 species of nonflowering plant (fern).
Bwindi is assumed to possess one of the richest faunal communities in East Africa. There are an estimated 120 vertebrate species within the park, 10 of which are primates. It also contains more than 350 bird species and more than 200 butterfly species.
Gorilla tracking in Bwindi is the absolute highlight of any trip to Uganda.
Entrances to the park and access to the various gorilla groups are as follows:
Buhoma – nestled in the northwest corner of the park, and currently hosting three groups of gorillas, this was the first section to open for gorilla tracking.
Ruhija – situated within the remote east of the park, this entrance is home to two groups which can be visited by non-researchers.
Nkuringo – set in a spectacular portion of the southwest of the park; though there is only one group in this section of the park, it is considered one of the most entertaining and relaxed.
Rushaga – the recently opened portion of the southeast of the park; includes 3 groups available for tracking.
Visit a Batwa (‘pygmy”) Hideout at Garama Cave
Hike to Sabyinyo Gorge
Nearly a century ago there was a conflict among the people in the area.
The Bantu tribes resided in villages and practiced farming, while the Batwa remained in the forest as hunter-gatherers.
Sometimes, the Batwa warriors would raid the villages and disappear once more into the forest. The Bantu weren’t aware that there was a hidden cave in the forest and thus couldn’t find the crafty Batwa.
The cave is 343m long and 14m deep, and is now inhabited only by bats, but your guide will explain how the Batwa lived and fought from this cave. The walk to and from the cave passes through montane woodland with plenty of opportunities for bird watching and simply enjoying the scenery (US$95,- pp, including park entrance fees).
Hiking time: 3 -4 hours
Distance: 3 km
Elevation gain:Very little
This hike takes you deep into Sabyinyo’s lush gorge where you will encounter thick wet vegetation and an exquisite moss-lined stream. At the end of the gorge you’ll find yourself looking straight up at the peaks of Mount Sabyinyo with the sounds of a small waterfall by your side. Keep your binoculars ready because the gorge is one of the best birding spots in the area. Watch-out for the Rwenzori turaco, duikers, and golden Monkeys. (Cost: US$60,- pp, including park fees).
Hiking time: 4- 5 hours
Distance: 6 km
Elevation gain: Little
This tour makes for an easy add-on to any tour passing through Bwindi, Kabale, or Kisoro.
Climbing(hiking) Mount Muhavura
Visible from all over Kisoro district, Mount Muhavura makes an excellent landmark. Towering higher than the land, this typical cone shaped volcano provides some of the superb views within Uganda. On a clear day trekkers can see all of the other Virunga volcanoes, plus Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and the peaks of the Rwenzoris.
Muhavura does not have the thick forest of Gahinga and Sabinyo. Much of the climb is a gradual incline up a rocky surface covered by grasses and small shrubs. The low vegetation gives you excellent views of the area throughout the day. At the top (4127m) you are rewarded with fine views over Congo and Rwanda with a crystal clear crater lake in the foreground.
Look out for scarlet-tufted malachite sunbirds among the giant lobelias (Cost: US$75,- pp, including park fees).
Difficulty: Tough, very steep!
Hiking time: 8-10 hour
Distance: 12 km
Elevation gain: 1700 m
Climbing/hiking Mount Sebyinyo
Mount Sebyinyo (meaning ‘old man’s teeth’) offers three challenging peaks to climb. The trail takes you up a ridge along the Eastern side of 1st peak. If you wish to continue, the climb to the 2nd peak involves hiking a ridge with breathtaking drops into the gorges of Rwanda and Uganda. Finally, the hike up to the 3rd peak is steep with several ladders and much scrambling – you’ll definitely get your hands dirty en route. On top of 3rd peak (3669 meter) you’ll be in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo at the same time!
The Sabinyo hike takes you through all different vegetation belts, and you have good chances of seeing golden monkeys, duikers, Rwenzori turaco and sunbirds (Cost: US$75,- pp, including park fees).
Difficulty: Tough, very steep!
Hiking time: 8- 10 hours
Distance: 14 km
Elevation gain: 1300m