Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a place like no other. The 331 sq km park is home to half of the world’s mountains gorilla numbers, chimpanzees and a good number of wildlife. As a visitor to Bwindi in south western part of Uganda, you will find that the number one activity to do is gorilla trekking an experience which you can’t have anywhere in the world except in neighboring Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. If you book a gorilla tour, a trusted tour operator will tell that you that there are other things to do other gorilla tracking. Here we take a look at the five things to do in Bwindi.
Mountain Gorilla Tracking
Mountain gorillas are rare and unique to Uganda and Virunga mountains, and seeing them in their natural habitat in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is an amazing experience. Gorillas are world’s largest primates, but peaceful, gentle giants and visitors can spend 1 hour with them taking photos and observing how they feed and groom each other. Bear in mind the steep terrain and thick rain forest require physical strength to be able to walk in search of the gorillas.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest has 15 gorilla families that are habituated for tourism and the cost of a purchasing a gorilla permit is affordable at $600. There exists the perception that gorilla tracking is expensive. But the thing here is if you are visiting Uganda, then aim for to have the best wildlife experience. The rule to seeing gorillas on your preferred budget is to book a gorilla safari with a trusted tour operator. A good operator will tell about the favorable sector including Buhoma, Nkuringo, Ruhija and Rushaga and accommodation you can sleep in.
Gorilla Habituation Experience
With gorilla tracking, you may be concerned about 1 hour spent with gorillas to be actually short. Isn’t it? But thankfully gorilla habituation experience allows visitors to spend up to 4 hours with wild gorillas. Habituation experience can be done in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi; there are 2 semi-habituated gorillas groups of Bikinigi and Bushaho. These gorilas are still wild and not so much used to humans; they tend to shy away while they typically sociable as the ones that are fully habituated and visitors can happily get great encounters.
Bwindi is home to abundant of 364 forest species of birds including 23 Albertine endemics. Major birding trails in Buhoma and Ruhija sectors will take birders deep into the forest. Among the trees you can spot several birds such as Bar Tailed Tragon, Archer’s Robin Chat, strange weaver, red throated alethe, blue headed sunbird. In Ruhija, the trails ascend into Mubwindi swamp where you can spot the African green broad bill. Birding excursions incude nature walks and you can as well spot primates in Bwindi such as colobus monkey and chimps but very rare.
If you want to explore the creatures and plants of Bwindi Rain Forest, you can take a nature walk to see birds, plants, butterflies, orchids, primates, insects and waterfalls. In Buhoma there are three waterfalls which will give you a cool breathe and atmosphere. Ruhija has several nature walks notably the Mubwindi swamp which is home to African green broadbill.
Village walks are great way to meet the local people including the Bakiga and BaTwa hunter gathers and learn more about their culture and traditions. Visitors can go for guided walks in the remote villages outside the park. If you choose to stay at the lodge, local people can be invited to share their stories of life and traditions and perform dances. Of course they engage in tourism to earn income, along the way as you explore the villages you can buy handmade crafts, food, honey to support their efforts.
Some of the projects besides farming include water development and buhoma community hospital which offer community volunteering programs for visitors. In Buhoma, there’s Batwa homestead where visitors can watch Batwa can demonstrate their traditional lifestyle and carry out rituals such as fire making, hunting, dancing, building, and using herbs as medicine and food. Similar experience can be found in Nkuringo Sector which has more beautiful scenery. You can even sample delicious traditional meals and drinks like banana beer served either at the lodge or community center.