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Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi impenetrable national park is situated in a tropical rain forest located in the south western part of Uganda. The Forest is known for being a home to half of the world’s mountain gorilla population and for having a diversity of many animal and plant species. Bwindi impenetrable National park was declared by UNESCO as a world Heritage site in 1994 because of its outstanding Natural and cultural values.  Numbers of visitors from all over the world flock into Uganda every year to enjoy and explore the adventurous experiences in this Forest National Park. If you are planning to visit, here are 8 activities you can enjoy on your trip to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

gestation period of Mountain gorillas
Mountain gorillas

Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla trekking is the most popular activity in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The park currently has 21 habituated mountain Gorilla Families which can be accessed by visitors. Gorilla trekking involves hiking through the thick rainforest in search for mountain gorillas for about 3 to 4 hours, depending on the location of your assigned gorilla family on that day. This activity can be a bit tiring but the encounter with the gentle giants is such a worthwhile and satisfying experience.

To engage in the mountain Gorilla tracking activity, you need to book a Gorilla permit at least 2 Months prior to your planned date of visit. Bwindi has 4 tracking sectors/ gates i.e Rushaga, Buhoma, Ruhija, and Nkuringo and this permit grants you access to only one sector to track one of the habituated Gorilla Families in that sector.

Key notes for Gorilla Trekking

  • Book a gorilla permits 2 months prior to your visit. A Gorilla Permit costs 700USD for foreign nonresidents, 600USD for foreign residents and 250,000 UGX for East Africans.
  • Book accommodation earlier and within the sector of your Gorilla Permit
  • It is recommended to book your permit through a trusted tour operator, but if you prefer to do it on your own, visit the Uganda Wildlife Authority website and book one.

Gorilla Habituation

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Forest National Park
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Forest National Park

Gorilla habituation is a process of gently introducing wild Mountain Gorillas to the sight and presence of humans for research, care and conservation purposes. Here tourists are allowed to be part of this process by spending 4 hours with the Gorillas as they are being habituated.

Rushaga is the only sector in Bwindi National park where the gorilla habituation experience is permitted. Gorilla Habituation gives you more time to spend with the Gorillas compared to tracking which where you spend only 2 hours with them. A Habituation Permit goes for USD 1500 for Foreign none residents, USD 1000, for foreign residents and 750,000 UGX for East Africans

Bird watching

Bwindi impenetrable national park is a home to over 348 bird species 42 of which are Albertine endemics. Bwindi impenetrable Forest is one of the top listed destinations for the best bird watching experience in Africa.  Some of the species are, African Emerald cuckoo, White tailed blue, African blue, Fly catchers, African green pigeon, Cinnamon-chested bee eater, Crowned hornbill, Giant kingfisher, Kiev gerund thrush, African harrier hawk etc., Birders who visit the park can identify over 100 bird species within one day. Birding can be done anytime of the year, and guided bird watching through the forest costs USD 30.

Batwa Cultural Experience

Echuya Batwa
Echuya Batwa

The Batwa visit is a special cultural experience with the Batwa local pygmies, one of the indigenous groups of people in Bwindi.  These are known to be the first people of the forest who lived in Bwindi impenetrable forest for over 500,000 years before the forest was gazette by the government to be a national park. Their stature, unique and rare cultural practices are quite outstanding. Through folk songs and dances, the Batwa tell you about their history while they stayed in the forest and how they are coping with their new life outside the forest. You can also participate in activities like basket weaving, jewelry making, dancing and drumming, etc.

Hiking /nature walks

Hiking in Bwindi involves taking long walks through the thick rainforest while enjoying the different natural creations in this forest. The hiking experience in this forest is known to be a mind relaxing activity which gets you a chance to discover plant and animal species in their natural habitat.  The park has a diversity of animal species like African Forest Elephants, bush bucks, primates like Colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, bird species, reptiles, amphibians and a myriad of tree species. Hiking can be done in any of the four sectors of Bwindi and there are nature trails in this forest which have scenic views harmonized with rivers, waterfalls, and streams making the experience so magical.

Some of the hiking trails include; Kashasha trail, Mubwindi trail, Bamboo, Muzabajiro loop trail, Ivy River trail, Rushura hill trail, Munyabga waterfall, Rusizi river, and Habiryanja trail. And a guided nature walk / hike goes for USD 30

Community visits/ walks

Community walks in Bwindi involve visiting the neighboring communities around the national park. Bwindi Impenetrable is surrounded by tribes like the Batwa, and Bakiga who have a rich culture and historical background. The walks within the communities for take about 3 to 6 hours as you see, interact and learn about the different types of people that live around Bwindi impenetrable national park. The local people are hospitable, welcoming and the children are very cheerful too.

The hilly terrain of areas around the park is very beautiful with natural green vegetation and compliments the community walks in Bwindi. As you visit the community, you can engage in activities like basket weaving, painting, craft making, traditional dances and storytelling.

Butterfly watching

Butterfly watching in Bwindi
Butterfly watching in Bwindi

Butterfly watching is another activity which visitors can enjoy in this enchanted forest. The forest has over 310 butterfly species, some of which include the Cream-banded swallowtail, African Giant swallow tail, spalgis, Lemolea, Pentila alba. Belemois theora, nepheronia thalassina, papilio senobia, to mention but a few. Bwindi is one of the best destinations for butterfly watching not only in Uganda but also in Africa. This activity can be enjoyed all year round at USD 30 from any of the four sectors of Bwindi.

Visiting lake Mutanda

Lake Mutanda is a beautiful small fresh water lake nestled in the foothills of the Virunga Mountain Ranges, near Bwindi Impenetrable rain Forest. Lake Mutanda has mystical scenic views which are best enjoyed on a boat ride. Embarking on a boat ride for 1 or 2 hrs.’ offers visitors one of the most thrilling experiences as they view many bird species, and the beautiful 15 Islands of lake Mutanda.  The boat ride can be either motorized or by a locally made canoe which visitors enjoy most.

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