Bwindi National Park Budget Travel

Bwindi is THE place to see African Mountain Gorillas in the wild.

About Bwindi National Park

In 1994 the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as an important biodiversity hotspot.

The word "Bwindi" means impenetrable in the local Lukiga language. The double use of the word "impenetrable" in the park's title is fitting indeed, as Bwindi's dense vegetation and daunting terrain make exploring the area very challenging.

The 327 km² national park encompasses ancient rainforests covering steep valleys and towering ridges. Trekking mountain gorillas in this lush and demanding wilderness area is well worth the physical challenge. Encountering the rare mountain gorillas is considered one of the best wildlife encounters in the world!

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Facts and Figures

In 1942 the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Reserve was officially established and in 1992 the reserve was upgraded to a national park, becoming the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

This Ugandan Reserve is considered one of the most biologically diverse forests in Africa, hosting over 160 species of trees (among the highest number of tree species for its altitude in East Africa) and more than 100 species of ferns. This ancient forest is home to numerous endemic butterflies, a variety of interesting bird species (many of which are also endemics) and one of Africa's richest assortment of mammals. 

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is also inhabited by many endangered species, including the mountain gorilla that it is best known for hosting. Almost half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population (about 340) is found in this East African Forest Reserve!

Bwindi covers about 32 000 hectares of wilderness, on the eastern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley, lying at an altitude of between 1160m to 2607m above sea level. The game reserve receives an average rainfall of nearly 1500 mm annually, serving as a crucial catchment area. The sources of five major rivers are located in Bwindi, from where they flow into Lake Albert.  

Bwindi is classified as a true rainforest, spanning the transitional zone from plain to mountain forests, covering a series of steep ridges and valleys. 

This isolated forest of exceptional biological diversity is surrounded by agricultural lands that support one of the densest rural populations in tropical Africa, making it all the more significant as a conservation priority.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Highlights & Attractions

  • The exceptional biodiversity found in Bwindi National Park, one of the world's biodiversity hotspots.
  • Seeing the critically endangered African Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat - an unforgettable wildlife experience!
  • Bwindi’s lush vegetation in 25000-year-old tangles, comprising of an impressive array of plant and tree species, among the richest flora in Africa.
  • Witnessing some of the huge variety of species including over 200 butterflies, 200 tree species, 88 species of moths, 51 reptiles, and the tremendous array of 150 mammal species, including 10 primate species.
  • Bwindi is an outstanding place to see primates, such as red-tailed monkeys, chimpanzees, l’Hoest’s Monkeys, blue monkeys, black & white colobus monkeys, baboons and vervet monkeys.
  • A bird watchers paradise, inhabited by 350 forest bird species, including 7 IUCN red data listed species. The forest is home to at least 70 montane forest bird species and 22 of the 36 bird species endemic to Albertine Valley.
  • The rare and ancient nature of Bwindi Forest thought to have been among the few places of refuge for species during glacial ice age periods, in the Pleistocene epoch. 
  • Fascinating nature walks to learn more about Bwindi's primates, birds, butterflies, trees and other creatures encountered along the routes. Options include the river trails, a popular waterfall trail, Rushura route and the loop trail with spectacular views.

For bird watching enthusiasts attractions include hornbills, African green broadbill, turacos, Grauer’s swamp warbler, Turner’s Eremomela, Chapin’s flycatcher and Shelley’s crimson-wing. Bwindi attracts 90% of the endemic Albertine bird species, which are tough to impossible to find elsewhere in East Africa. 

The butterflies in Bwindi are also a highlight, especially as Bwindi is possibly the most important African forest for montane forest butterflies. Around 84% of Uganda's total number of butterfly species can be found in Bwindi, including eight species endemic to the Albertine Rift.

Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi National Park 

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is most famous for its endangered African Mountain Gorillas, with the national park's top attraction and main activity being that of Trekking Gorillas in the wild. 

Time stands still when you encounter these rare primates face-to-face in the wild - a truly unique wildlife experience never to be forgotten! Nothing compares with watching these gentle giants as they play and go about their daily lives. Gazing into the expressive brown eyes of these large primates is undoubtedly one of Africa's most exciting and touching wildlife interactions.

There are four habituated Mountain Gorilla groups open to tourism in Bwindi:

  • Mubare group - 16 gorillas and 1 silverback (dominant male).
  • Habinyanja group - about 23 gorillas and 2 silverbacks
  • Rushegura group (near Buhoma) - 9 gorillas and 1 silverback
  • Nkuringo group - about 20 gorillas and 2 silverbacks

The Bwindi population consists of about 340 mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) in total, constituting almost half of the worldwide mountain gorilla population. The remainder of the world's mountain gorilla population is located in the nearby Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Gorilla Trekking Procedures in Bwindi Park

These large creatures can appear very intimidating, but they are vegetarian and generally shy, peaceful animals. The greatest threats to the endangered gorillas are disease, habitat loss and poaching. The stringent rules and regulations of gorilla trekking in Bwindi are therefore designed primarily to protect the mountain gorillas from humans, as well as to ensure the safety of visitors. 

  • The number of visitors allowed to trek each of the different gorilla groups per day is limited to about 8 people per group.
  • Taking photographs is permitted (without a flash) and restricted use of video camera is permitted.
  • The gorilla trekking permit allows you one trek and gorilla viewing (limited to an hour spent with the gorillas). 
  • The terrain/ weather conditions can be tough, so a reasonable level of fitness is required for gorilla trekking excursions. 

But we should not let it distract from Bwindi's broader biodiversity, a result of its immense olden days and an altitude span from 1,160 to 2,607m. The national park has 90 mammal species, including 11 primates, of which the black-and-white colobus, with its lovely flowing white tail, is prominent.

Location of Bwindi National Park

The Bwindi Reserve is located in south-western Uganda about 540km from Kampala, on the edge of the western rift valley. It lies in the Rukungiri, Kabale and Kisoro Districts of Uganda and is most accessible by road.

This ancient forest is surrounded by intensely cultivated agricultural lands, previously covered by forest vegetation.

Bwindi is 51km's north-west from Lake Bunyoni, used as the base for most of our mountain gorilla safaris. The Democratic Republic of Congo borders Bwindi on the western side and the nearest town is Kabale, 29 kilometres (18 mi) to the southeast of the park by road.

The national park consists of two main forested areas connected by a narrow corridor of forest, due to the early conservation management under two separate protected areas.

Bwindi National Park Climate - When to Go to Bwindi National Park

Bwindi has a tropical climate and because it is a rainforest it is generally wet. 

Nights and early morning can be chilly so take warm clothes and a good sleeping bag, especially if you are camping during the coldest time of the year - from June to July.

There are two rainy seasons, the short rainy season from March to May and the longer one from September to November, when heavy rainfall, or long hours of soft rainfall, occur. The best time to visit Bwindi is usually from December to March or from June to September, avoiding the wettest seasons.

Average temperature ranges from a minimum of 7–15°C to a maximum of 20–27°C annually. Bwindi's receives between 1400 and 2390 mm's of rain per year. 

This ancient forest plays an important role in regulating the climate and environmental conditions in the surrounding area. Bwindi Forest's dense vegetation results in high levels of evapotranspiration, causing more precipitation in the region, which helps to keep nearby streams flowing during the dry season. The forest vegetation also helps to reduce soil erosion and flooding in the area.

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Tours Focused on Bwindi National Park

5 Day Uganda Gorillas & Wildlife Lodge Safari

Duration 05 Days, Travel Style Lodge Safaris
Priced from pps R37161 $2640 £2048 €2337 A$3694 C$3497 NZ$3845 Full pricing info
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Endangered gorilla The 5 Day Uganda Gorillas & Wildlife Safari highlights include African Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi, Uganda; Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Park & wildlife viewing.

Trip Style Bwindi National Park Budget Safari Packages

3 Day Uganda Gorillas Experience in Bwindi Forest Park

Duration 03 Days, Travel Style Lodge Safaris
Priced from pps R17651 $1254 £973 €1110 A$1755 C$1661 NZ$1826 Full pricing info
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Uganda gorilla This unique Uganda gorilla trekking safari is a real gem, offering an intimate gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi Forest. Spend up to four hours with a family of endangered African mountain gorillas on your trek with four guests, rangers and a researcher - an extraordinary primate encounter!

Trip Style Bwindi National Park Budget Safari Packages