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 "impenatrable" 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!
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 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 cultivted 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 seperate protected areas.
Bwindi has a tropical climate and because it is a rainforest it is generally wet.
Nights and early morning can be chilly so take a 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 evapo-transpiration, 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.
Use the Google map to explore Bwindi National Park. Feel free to Print the Street Map when you're ready.