Bwindi Impenetrable, a magnificent verdant swathe across the steep ridges of the Albertine Rift Valley – one of the few in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age – is home to roughly half of the worlds mountain gorillas. The name Bwindi is derived from the local phrase Mubwindi bwa Nyinamukari, which most probably originally referred to the Mubwindi swamp in the southeast of the park rather than the forest itself. The forest was proclaimed as the impenetrable in forest reserve in 1942 and its official name until 1991 where it was gazetted as a national park and named Bwindi.
Tourism in Bwindi focuses on gorilla tracking. Slightly more than half of the world’s mountain gorilla population is resident in Bwindi, An estimated 280 -320 living in 15 troops. Looking deep into the expressive brown eyes of these gentle giants is surely the most exciting and poignant wildlife encounter that Africa has to offer however we should not let it distract from Bwindis broader biodiversity, a result of its immense antiquity and an altitude span from 1,160 to 2,607m. Thhis ancient rainforest has 90 mammal species, including 11 primates, of which the Black and White Colobus, with its lovely flowing white tail, is prominent. Forest birding here ranks with the best in Uganda, with 23 highly localised Albertine Rift endemics present.
Safari activities in Bwindi gorilla forest:
The most popular activity here is mountain gorilla tracking safari in Buhoma and Ruhija sections of Bwindi. Bwindi Impenetrable forest has four gorilla groups that have been habituated for gorilla tracking. Three of these are in the vicinity of Buhoma and Nkuringo. There is the Mubare group which contains 10 gorillas and one silverback; it was opened for tourism in 1993. There is also Habinyanja group which consists of 21 gorillas and two silverbacks; it was opened for tourism in 1998. Another group is Rushegura which is composed of 10 gorillas and 1 silverback; it was opened for tourism in 2002. The fourth is the Nkuringo group which was opened for tourism in 2004 and it is composed of 19 gorillas and 1 silverback. It should be noted however that gorilla tracking is one of Uganda’s most popular tourist activity. Bookings should be made in advance to ensure that permits for your requested dates are available when you come. Nature and forest walks also provide a more relaxed opportunity for birding safaris and other primate tracking while exploring one of Uganda’s most attractive rainforests. There are also community visits and cultural performances where the visitor is immersed into the village life. Hardcore birding is carried out on the Main Trail in Buhoma, at “The Neck” en route to Ruhiija, and at Mubwindi Swamp in Ruhija.
Safari lodges and accommodation in Bwindi Park.
A wide range of accommodation caters for both up-market and budget visitors. It is advisable to book well in advance. Up-market lodging at Buhoma includes Gorilla Forest Camp, Gorilla Resort, Buhoma Homestead, Volcanoes Bwindi Camp, Lake Kitandara Camp, and Gorilla Lodge. Budget travelers can be accommodated in Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Bwindi View Guesthouse among others. At Ruhiija, up market clients can choose to stay in Asyanut Camp. There is also reasonable accommodation at Trekkers’ Tavern.