Bwindi Impenetrable national park, 331 kms, is located in South Western Uganda, on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley, on an altitude range from 1.160 m to 2.607m. This is a real tropical rainforest, spread over a series of steep ridges and valleys. It is regarded as one of the most biologically diverse forest in Africa. In the local language “Bwindi” (from “Mubwindi”) means “dark place”, referring to the impenetrable nature for human beings to the swamp located the South East of the actual Park, according to legends.
Variety of species
There are 11 species of primates, including Gorillas, chimpanzee, Hoest’s, red-tailed and blue monkey, black and white Columbus, olive baboon. Particularly, Bwindi is home to 360 mountain gorillas, a half of the total remaining world population. There are 346 species of birds recorded (Bwindi contains 90% of all Albertine Rift endemics, difficult to see in any other place in East Africa) and 200 of butterflies. Mammals count only 30 (buffaloes, leopards, elephants). There are 324 species of tree.
In Uganda, there are currently 8 habituated gorilla groups that are tracked by tourists. Though, it must be stressed that the eighth gorilla group in Uganda, the Nyakagezi Group based in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, is currently not bookable at Uganda Wildlife Authorities as the family have a very large range. They spend their time crossing over into Rwanda and back into Uganda. These permits are normally sold the day before tracking at the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Headquarters. Therefore, we do not recommend this family for reliable sightings.
During 2009, however, the Uganda Wildlife Authority started to habituate 2 additional gorilla groups in Bwindi: the Kahungye (Kahungye) Group (Nkuringo & Rushaga) and the Oruzogo Group (west of Ruhija). It is hoped that these 2 gorilla groups will increase the number of available gorilla permits.
Uganda’s 8 Habituated Gorilla Groups that are tracked by tourists:
Family size: 6 members with 1 Silverback.
Habinyanja Group Family
Family size: 20 members with 2 Silverbacks.
Rushegura Group Family
Family size: 20 members with 1 Silverback.
Bitukura Group Family
Family size: 13 members with 4 Silverbacks.
Nkuringo Group Family
Family size: 18 members with 2 Silverbacks.
Nshongi Group Family
Family size: 25 members with 2 Silverbacks.
Mishaya Group Family
Family size: 12 members with 1 Silverback.
From the main headquarters in Rushaga, clients will often set off on foot or take a 30min drive to the trailhead. The Silverback Mishaya left the Nshongi Group with 9 others in July 2010 to establish the Mishaya Group.
Oruzogo Gorilla Family
Family size: 16 members including 1 silverback
Location: Buhoma – Ruhija
The Oruzogo group is one of the newest gorilla families that opened up for tourism in Bwindi National Park. This family is situated between Buhoma and Ruhija and is lead by the dominant Silverback Tibirikwata. The group consists of 16 individuals including two babies that were recently born.
The main activity is “gorilla tracking” to the habituated 8 families of mountain gorillas. Hiking trails are open to people to sight birds, butterflies, and primates, trees (along the Munyanga, Waterfall, Rushura, River Ivi and Bamboo zone trials). Specially recommended for bird watchers are the River Ivi and Mubwindi swamp nature walks. Cultural walk to Buhoma village community, to see the traditional homestead, the local healer, the banana brewing, handicraft and cultural performances for Batwa. The mountain biking is also evolving.
Bwindi can be reached from QENP in the north (2-3 hours), from Kabale to the south (1-2 hours), or from Kampala via Mbarara (6-8 hours). The roads meet at Butogota, 17km from the Buhoma entrance gate. 4×4 recommended during the rains.
There are daily bus services leaving Kampala for Butogota via Rukungiri and Kihihi .A matatu can be hired from Butogota to Buhoma the park entrance gate.
The Kabale – Ruhija- Buhoma segment on this route is 72 km on a murram road branching off at Harutenga junction on the Kabale-Kisoro road.
Air transport: Travelers can fly from Entebbe to the modern tarmac airstrip at Kihihi. Visitors to Buhoma can also charter planes to the grass Kayonza or Savannah airstrips.
Bwindi is well served by three air fields at Kayonza and Kihihi for the northern sector and Nyakabande in Kisoro for those going to track gorillas in the southern Sector (Nkuringo, Nshongi and Mshaya as well as Nyakagezi family in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park).
There are several accommodation facilities: Gorilla forest camp, Mahogany springs, Engagi lodge, Buhoma lodge, Clouds gorilla lodge, Gorilla safari lodge, Ruhija lodge ( Luxury) Kitandara camp, Silver back lodge, Gorilla resort, Gorilla mist lodge (Mid-range) Buhoma camp, Bwindi view lodge, Nkuringo camp, Wagtail eco lodge, Marvel eco lodge (Budget)