With your chances of seeing gorillas at 90%, Bwindi gorilla trekking is what Uganda is renowned for. Few wildlife experiences can match the undiluted thrill of sitting with a gorilla family as they forage and interact with each other. Set deep in the rainforest, it’s a charmingly gentle scene – the gorillas are habituated to our presence – but they remain watchful, perhaps as curious of us as we are of them. Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is part of the great rainforest that blankets equatorial Africa and it provides sanctuary to half of the world’s thousand or so remaining mountain gorillas. It is also one of the most biologically diverse forests in Africa and gorilla trekking is just part of the Bwindi experience. This is a destination where you can search for other rare primates such as the golden monkey and enjoy sightings of endemic birds as well as clouds of dazzling butterflies. There are local communities to meet and hiking trails to explore plus opportunities to go mountain biking or on a boat cruise.
Bwindi gorilla trekking takes place from specialist lodges set in the park itself or scattered around its edges. There is a good range of accommodation available – complete with honeymoon suites as well as larger family units – and you’ll find something to suit all budgets from budget-friendly camps to top-of-the-range lodges with butler service and a complimentary massage. Accessible by road or air from Uganda’s international entry point of Entebbe, Bwindi Forest is usually part of a larger itinerary within Uganda or destinations further afield. Keep it local and you can add Uganda’s heavyweight safari destinations like Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls to the experience as well as one of Africa’s best chimpanzee trekking destinations – Kibale Forest. Go further afield for the Serengeti, Masai Mara, Kruger Park or Zanzibar – each a tried-and-tested combination with Bwindi. Browse our recommended Itinerary Ideas or simply contact us with your requirements and we’ll recommend an itinerary or will tailor-make one for you.
Best Time to Visit
An equatorial location gives Bwindi Forest a predictably damp and humid climate but its relatively high altitude makes it cooler than you may think – it’s best noted that a gorilla trek can be a cold and wet experience. Nevertheless, the year has two distinct dry seasons which are without doubt when to go to Bwindi for gorilla trekking if you want the most comfortable and rewarding experience. The first dry season is from mid-December to early February and the second from early June to late September. These periods offer the easiest conditions for hiking in the rainforest and generally the best gorilla sightings as well as a reduced malaria risk.
Bwindi forest can be accessed from Queen Elizabeth National Park to the northern just 2 to 3 hours drive, from Kampala through Mbarara about 6 to 8 hours drive or from Kabale town to the southern just 1 to 2 hours. These roads then converge at Butogota, just 17 kilometers from the Buhoma entrance-gate. A 4×4 vehicle is needed through the rainy months. A daily bus service leaves Kampala for Butogota via Rukungiri and Kihiihi. We recommend booking your gorilla trekking safari with a recognized tour operator.
Travelers can choose to fly from Entebbe or from Kampala at Kajansi airfield to the up to date tarmac airstrip found at Kisoro. Additionally Planes may as well be chartered to the Savannah or the grass Kayonza airstrips. Bwindi is actually well served by 3 airfields at Kihiihi plus Kayonza for the northern area in addition to Nyakabande found in Kisoro for people going to track mountain gorillas within the southern area (Mishaya, Nshongi plus Nkuringo). Bwindi is located in the south-western part of Uganda with approximately 7 h 35 min (463.7 Km) via Masaka Road. from Kampala .The easiest means of transport to Bwindi is by road.
Queen Elizabeth national Park (Mweya)- Kihihi-Buhoma.
On your way to the park, you will pass through Ishasha and you will enjoy seeing the climbing lions along with monkeys on the road.Bwindi covers an area of about160km from Mweya and about 64km from Ishasha.
The route has a tarmac highway to kabala and covers an area of about 414 km and it’s a 5-6 hour’s drive. The next route has a murram road and has about 120km. the route goes through Kanungu as well as Kanyantorogo and it takes about 4-5hours.The most convenient vehicle is A4WD.
The easiest and most convenient route is from Kampala direct to the tarmac road Rukungiri and has about 390km in addition to murram road to Buhoma.
This route covers an area of about 95km2 on the murram road and its takes about 3-4hrs.The only vehicle that can pass through Ruhija is a 4WD.
It covers a distance of about 105kms from Kabale town and it takes about 4 hours to get to the mountainous murram road. Many tourists take up nights in Kisoro town and the remaining distance is about 80km from Kabale prior to Nkuringo.Kisoro road is a meandering 35km and takes about 1-1.5 hours. The most suitable car for this area is the 4WD. By means of public transport, a bus set on everyday from Kampala to Butogota.Thereafter a tax can be got the last 17km to Buhoma.Nkuringo has no public means and the best thing to do is to hire a vehicle from Kisoro. Another means of transport can be by Air; Tourits can fly from kajjansi airfield or Entebbe and land off from Kisoro airstrip. Those who may want to visit Buhoma may take on the charter planes and land off from Kayonza airstrip. Bwindi National Park a home to tremendous biodiversity because of two factors. First of all, its slopes stretch over a broad altitudinalrange of 1447 meter to create habitats roaming from lowland forest at 1160m to unique Afromontane vegetation above 2600m. Second, it is extremely old. since most of Africa’s forests were destroyed during the arid conditions of the final ice age(12,000-18,000 years ago), Bwindi was among a few ‘refugia’ that remained. As a result, as most of nowadays forests are not further than 12,000 years old, Bwindi’s vegetation has been weaving itself into tangles over 25,000 years, in the process accumulating an extensive species list. This consist of 310 species ofbutterfly, 200 trees, 88 moths,51 reptiles, and a tremendous 120 varieties of mammal including 10 primates. The latter are red tailed, chimpanzee, L’Hoest’s and blue monkey, black & white colobus, baboon, as well as Bwindi’s most famous resident, the mountain gorilla.
Bwindi is a prime location for birdwatchers. Its 350 bird species including 7 which are IUCN red data listed & 90% of all Albertine rift endemics species that are hard or impossible to see in some other part of East Africa especially on Tanzania safari holidays. A more experienced bird watcher can simply identify up to 100 species in a single day
Things To Do At Bwindi
Bwindi National Park lies in south-western Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley and has a variety of attraction ideal for both tourists and researchers. There are a plethora of activities one can do in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Independent of what you are looking for, you will find something here.
Community Tourism: Tourists who visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park can participate in invigorating cultural en counters such as the Rubuguri Village Walk, the Nkuringo Cultural Center (NCC), the Nkuringo Community Conservation and Development Foundation (NCCDF), the Buhoma Community Tour (Mukono Development Association) and the Buniga Forest Nature Walk where tourists are rewarded with several cultural experiences.
Must Do Adventures in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Gorilla Habituation Experience in Rushaga:
It is only in Uganda that you can be with a Mountain Gorilla Family for 4 hours on a Gorilla Habituation Experience along with researchers in Bwindi’s Impenetrable Forest – this amazing experience – to be with a Mountain Gorilla Family as it is being habituated is a one of a kind experience in Africa. There are presently two family groups being habituated, meaning that they becoming used to human contact and will not run away from visitors trekking them. You can fly into Kigali Rwanda and 3 hours later be in the Rushaga Region of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. You have the choice of budget, moderate and upmarket lodging and can stay either in Rushaga or scenic Nkuringo area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Mountain Bike Rides in Buhoma Area:
Ride 4 a Woman which is a community support group offers mountain bike rentals and guided bike in and around Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in the Buhoma area of the park. You can even do the Village Walk on a bike with guide. There are Birding Bike Rides, or simply a ride into the Forest such as the Ivy River Trail. The average Bike Ride is 3 hours or longer in length with much to see along the trail or road. The guides are all well-trained, some specialize in birding, others in culture but all know Bwindi Impenetrable Forest which they all love and want to conserve.
The Batwa Forest Experience:
The Batwa were the original people of the forest, they were here for thousands of years before the Bantu People, the Cultivators of the Land arrived. The Batwa People – are pygmies – were hunter-gatherers and lived in the forests of Southwest Uganda and beyond. They left a small ecological footprint on the forest and lived in harmony with nature. You can visit the forest (actually outside of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest) with the Batwa People and learn of their traditional ways of hunting and gathering. The Batwa Experience takes place in the Buhoma area.
The Buhoma Village Walk:
Here you have a 3 hour cultural walk through the village – you learn the ways and culture of the people that live in the Buhoma area on the edge of Bwindi Forest. The Village Walk is with a guide who is friendly and knowledgeable about local culture and customs. You will see how people make local crafts such as baskets with the most intricate designs – beer made from Bananas, and a distillery that makes the local Waragi Gin from Bananas, meet a traditional healer and learn of what is gathered in the ancient forest and how it is taken and applied to ailments .See how the growing of local produce is done and harvested, food preparation over charcoal or open fire, visit a school, and meet the Batwa Pygmy community as they perform a dance for you just to name a few. It is certainly a cultural learning experience and the cost of the walk supports the local community – so a win win for everyone.
Hiking through the Forest:
The Hike through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest can be one day or longer hike from the north of Bwindi to the South – called Nkuringo- there one can stay overnight and continue the next day down to scenic Lake Mutanda where you paddle across in a wooden dugout and continue to the town of Kisoro. This is the most popular hike along two trails of Bwindi – there are however other trails and nature walks, most from easy to moderate in and near the Forest that can be explored on foot and requiring from an hour to all day long.
Hiking through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is always with a guide.
The diverse habitats in Uganda’s most ancient forest imply that is the perfect habitat for a diversity of bird species, with about 350 recorded different species, with 23 endemics.
The mountain bike ride ventures in Bwindi are managed by a woman’s group which offers trained guides, a repair -shop for these bikes and every participant that helps in this program receives direct reimbursement from visitors to Buhoma enjoying a ride on the bike. Indeed Bwindi Impenetrable forest is more than a gorilla tracking destination. Visit it!
Different Activities to do in the Masai Mara
There is no doubt that Masai Mara is one of the best destinations when you are on a safari in Kenya. Masai Mara can offer that much needed break from the town life as you enjoy the untouched nature and all it has to offer.The Masai Mara National Reserve itself stretches over an area of about 1500 square metres. This simply means that you have 1500sqm of untouched nature. Everything in the ecosystem exists in its natural form. There are very few places that you can get this and they are reducing by the day in countries that do not place enough policies to curb the invasion by humans. However, Kenya is different and Masai Mara justifies all that. There are really no limits to what you can do in the Masai Mara. If you are out for adventure, then you have just landed to the best place. Visitors tour the area all through the year but other times of the year are usually packed for one reason or another.
Activities in the Masai Mara
Below we look into the various activities that tourists can take part in when they visit the Masai Mara. There is a lot that you can learn out of these activities and this diversity makes Masai Mara a very special place for safaris in Kenya.
Game Drives in the Mara
In most cases, this will be your main purpose of visiting Masai Mara in the first place as a tourist. The Masai Mara National park has a lot to offer in terms of nature and animals. You will be able to see almost all the wild African animals that you have always dreamt of seeing. Maybe you have seen a lion in the zoo some day, but you might not have seen it in the wild before. You can easily see the difference between the animals that you are used to seeing in the zoo and how they really are in the wild. This is usually a thrilling experience and the Masai Mara can offer all that and even more.
Nature Walks in Masai Mara
With the help of guides, you can be able to walk to parts of the park that are not usually frequented by predators. You will be amazed how close you can come to beautiful animals like giraffes and zebras or the huge animals like elephants and rhinos. This also gives the tourists a closer look into nature and they can learn about trees in the Masai Mara and birds as well. You will get up close to the tiny members of the Masai Mara that you would not have seen were you on your 4×4 truck.
Balloon Safaris in Masai Mara
This is an absolute spectacle that will remain in your memory forever. You can plan to tour the Masai Mara National Reserve on a hot air balloon. You will see the animals from the bird’s eye view and when you add the ride itself, that’s double thrill for you.
Picnic in Masai Mara National Reserve
Have you lunch in the game reserve itself, maybe by the Mara River. Enjoy the silent whispers of the waters as they flow and the roar of a hungry lion in the distance. It is usually fun if you can do this with your family or lover. When it comes to romance, Masai Mara definitely has your back.
Visit a Masai Village
Masais are the indigenous community of the Masai Mara area, hence the name. They have been living in the area for years and even after the intrusion of the western culture in Kenya, they still remain faithful to their African roots and Masai heritage. You can visit the villages and learn a thing or two about their culture. How they build houses from mud, their clothes and accessories and they can even give you a few pointers on hunting. There are very many more activities that Masai Mara has to offer but this are the key ones whenever you are on your safaris in Kenya.
Bwindi is an old forest which survived the massive plate shift that lead to the formation of the beautiful western rift. Bwindi in the local language means dark, complex and ferocious place, and it was named so to best explain the impenetrable nature of this forest considering in some parts the tree canopy is very thick that light can hardly penetrate down to the ground. This forest is best known for its gorilla trekking safaris, and within this verdant forest you will also find a deep swamp. On the lighter side, this forest is not very impassable but you can track through to see the endangered mountain gorillas which live here. Other wildlife living within this forest include: chimpanzees and this is the only place where you will find the chimpanzees happily co-existing with the mountain gorillas. Others include Vervet Monkeys, Olive Baboons, Red-Tailed Monkeys, the Pottos, Duiker Antelopes, Black & White Colobus Monkeys, Civets, L Hoests Monkeys, Blue, Bush babies, Bushpigs, Forest Hogs, Side-Striped Jackals, Clawless Otter, Golden Cats, Genets as well as bats among several others. There are over 340 bird species and 310 species of trees several butterflies and the ferns. The varied vegetation types including bamboo have made this habitat the best place to trekking gorillas.
About Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park your dream destination? Have you ever heard about impenetrable tropical rain forests in Africa? Here are facts and information you need to know to plan a perfect safari in Bwindi. Let it be a gorilla trekking safari or just a simple hike through the forest, we have you covered. Start here for basic information about the park such as where Bwindi Impenetrable is located and which of the park’s four sectors where you can enter the park. Find answers to the most frequently asked questions such as what to pack and how close you should get to wild animals. Are you planning a trip far in advance? Check our weather articles to learn what to expect in different seasons.
All About Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in southwestern Uganda. The park is part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and is situated along the Democratic Republic of Congo border next to the Virunga National Park and on the edge of the western Great Rift Valley. It covers an area of 327 km².
What Does Bwindi Mean?
Bwindi means “impenetrable” given its muddy, swampy & dark forest that is full of darkness! Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a tropical rain forest largely contained within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP). It is located in south western Uganda, within the triangle of mountains where Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DCR) converge. It is about 25km north of the Virunga volcanoes and on the edge of the western Rift valley. In 1991 the Ugandan part of the forest became a national park, ‘Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’ protecting 127 square metres of rain forest, home to around 340 endangered mountain gorillas – about half of the world’s mountain gorillas remaining in the wild.