The Impenetrable Forest Reserve was gazetted in 1942, upgraded to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in 1992 and recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1994. In the local Lukiga language, Bwindi means ‘Impenetrable. It’s area size is 327km2 of tangled vegetation draped over a deeply fissured landscape of steep, slippery valleys and high, draughty ridges. But if the terrain is far from easy to negotiate, it is well worth the effort. A trek through this, one of Africa’s most ancient rainforests, in search of the endangered mountain gorilla, ranks among the world’s premier wildlife encounters.
Bwindi also protects an estimated 400 mountain gorillas – roughly half of the world’s population, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked. This biologically diverse region also provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes. There are around 350 species of birds hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics.
The major activity in Bwindi is; Gorilla tracking limited to a maximum of 8 people per particular gorilla group per day – Permits must be booked before since they are on a very high demand all year round.
Guided forest walks, birding and other primates viewing. There is also the interesting activity of the people (Batwa Pygmies) whereby recently the Batwa Cultural Experience was introduced.
The Nkuringo sector:
which lies closely to the Buhoma sector is about 10km from Buhoma although this distance is covered by the Impenetrable Forest and a walk through the forest takes about 4 hours. Connecting by the car from the two points takes about 7 to 8 hours. Villages at Nkuringo also operate a community walk that visits a traditional healer, rural homestead, blacksmith and brewers. Nkuringo and Bushaho are the families in this sector. The Gorilla Habituation Experience is now being offered with the Bushaho family.
The Ruhija sector:
which is famous for its abundant birdlife on top of the gorillas is considered the most remote sector of all the four. There is a three-hour hike to visit the Mubwindi swamp and this rewards birder lovers with countless bird species. Gorilla families in this sector include; Ruhija, Bitukura and Kyaguriro.
The Rushaga sector:
This area boasts the highest number of gorilla family to include; Mishaya, Nshongi, Kahungye, Busingye and Bishaho. It lies between Kabale and Nkuringo coming from either Ruhija or Kampala.
Buhoma on the north of the forest. It is the trail head for tracking three gorilla family like Habinyanja, Bitukura and Mubare. Though tracking is the main attraction, a range of other wall more relaxed opportunities to spot birds and exploring one of Uganda’s loveliest rainforests.
Hikes in Bwindi
(1) Munyanga River Trail in the valley below Buhoma an ideal for short walks to view birds and primates forest edge.
(2) Waterfall Trail leads through one of Uganda’s me tracts of rainforest, passing beneath tree ferns and orchids to visit three sparkling waterfalls.
(3) Rushura Hill Trail provides expansive views (plains of the western rift valley to the western) Lake Edward and the Rwenzori to the north
(4) Muzabajiro Loop Trail climbs to the summit of Rl for breathtaking views of Bwindi forest.
(5) River Ivi Trail follows an old road through the bearing emerging near Nkuringo on the southern edge. It is highly recommended for bird watchers.