South west of Uganda a mysterious and lush green drapes across the rift valley – Bwindi impenetrable forest national park also a UNESCO world heritage site is home to half of the world’s population of the remaining mountain gorillas.
The 333km2, medium altitude habitat mostly ever green forest and montane tangled vines and undergrowth vegetation make the park impenetrable giving home to both inexplicable and incredible at least 20 species of mammals here in one of the richest ecosystem in Africa.
Besides the 11 species of primates including a healthy chimpanzee population and substantial number of L’hoest’s, red tailed monkey and blue monkey as well as black and white colobus monkey and the olive baboon among others.
Other residents of the park include the forest elephant, quite aggressive compared to the savannah counterparts, buffaloes 6 antelope species, bush bucks, 5 types of the forest duiker, and the seldom seen leopard, many species of bats and rodents.
There is also at-least 346 species of birds. The birdlist include rare forest birds like the Albertine rift endemics such as the African green broadbill, the Grauer’s Rush Warbler that are key species in this part of the world. The white tailed blue fly catcher is a common among the high altitude dwellers. There is also the mostly heard than seen brown necked parrot as well as white bellied robin chat, and the Frazer’s eagle Owl. The nocturnal Rwenzori Nightjar are also key species most hardcore birders look out for when they make visits to the Ruhija area which is more on a higher elevation than the other parts of the park.
The park also protects 14 species of snakes, 27species of frogs and toads, 6 chameleon species, 14 lizards, skinks, and geckos and at least 202 species of butterflies are residents in the forest.
Bwindi’s biggest claim to fame is the fact that it is a sanctuary to approximately half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas this is the world’s most endangered great ape. The park is a safe haven to almost 500 mountain gorillas that live in the tropical rain forest.
The famous Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was gazetted in 1991 mainly for the protection and conservation of the gorillas that were becoming extinct at the time. Today the forest harbors a population of close to 500 gorillas that live in over 20 troops. Because these gorillas are highly endangered in a bid to protect them only 8 people are allowed per day to visit a group. This allows minimal disturbance to them.
Apart from the popular gorilla treks there are a lot more activities that can be done is this gigantic misty forest. There are networks of well developed trails for nature walks especially for plant and bird lovers, mountain biking, cultural encounters, and bird watching as Bwindi has been the number one birding site in the whole of Africa.
The park can be accessed by air through the Entebbe international airport and Kajansi airstrip from Kampala to the Kisoro, Kihihi or Kayonza air strips.
You can also access the park by road from several directions which include:
Through queen Elizabeth National park Mweya- Kihihi then Buhoma, Kampala-Kabale-Kanungu-Buhoma, Kampala- Ntungamo- Rukungiri- Kihihi- Buhoma.
The Kabale- Ruhija- Buhoma Kampala-Kabale-Nkuringo, flights that end in Rwanda can have approximately 5 hours of driving Via the Kabale Katuna Border to Ruhija starting point.
If you make a choice to visit Africa and you decide on Safari to Uganda and Rwanda, do not hesitate to include gorilla tracking on your itinerary, time and resources allowing. Try both experiences in Uganda and Rwanda as they are both completely different! You can also combine your experience with tracking other primates like the Golden monkeys which are also endangered and only in the Virungas conservation area, chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest National Park and game viewing in several game parks.
A well-trained and information guide should be a pre-requisite for this safari as they create everlasting memories, do not under look their role in spicing up your holiday!