Uganda Gorilla Trekking From Kigali in Rwanda
Other than the endangered mountain gorillas, Bwindi also hosts a rich faunal diversity including one of the richest collection of mammals in Africa and vast population of endemic butterflies. The park as well represents a conservation frontline as an isolated forest of fine biological richness encompassed by an agricultural landscape where one of the greatest rural population densities in tropical Africa thrives.
Because of to its diverse ecosystems and varied altitude ranging from 1,160 to 2,706 m, its location at the intersection of the Congo Basin, Albertine and Eastern Africa ecological zones, Bwindi impenetrable national park is the most significant bio-diverse area in Uganda due to exceptional range of species which include many Albertine Rift and Rwenzori endemics. The park is also renowned for its huge diversity of tree species (over 200 species) and ferns (104 species) in East Africa, and arguably it’s Africa’s most important forest for montane forest butterflies containing up to 202 species.
Why visit Bwindi from Kigali
Gorilla trekking. Mountain gorillas are the principal draw of Bwindi plus the three other neighboring parks near the point where Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo meet. These magnificent animals can weigh over 400 pounds and heights of about 5.5 feet, while standing on both limbs. Unlike other species of gorillas, this specific type comprises thick fur coats, suited to their montane forest habitat, which is cool most of the year and can occasionally drop to freezing temperatures during the rainy months of the year.
There are only an approximate 1000 mountain gorillas still thriving in the wild, and Bwindi alone inhabits roughly 450 individuals which makes it a remarkable home of nearly half the world’s mountain gorilla population. Trekking through the park's dense bamboo groves to meet the iconic mountain gorillas is purely a different experience – far different from jumping into a sport utility vehicle for game drives. The trek begins in the morning, together with your ranger guides and a porter for carrying luggage. After the ranger guide slowly clears a trail for you with the machete, you will trek for nearly 2 hours until eventually coming upon a group of mountain gorillas.
There's an affinity to meeting face to face with a gorilla family, as you gaze at the mother keeping an eye on her baby, or a father (silverback) munching on bamboo shoots and breaking even the biggest branches as if they were barely twigs. While mountain gorillas are the headliners, the trek also exposes visitors to a myriad of other forest inhabitants including variety of primates, ferns, birds and butterflies which the guide will help spot for you.
Culture. The traditional Twa Pigmy and Kiga cultures through village walks and performances in the neighborhood of the park. Discover the rich cultural heritage that this group of people still holds and cherishes every other day. Batwa pygmies which are one of Uganda's ancient and oldest tribes, have for generations shared the forest with mountain gorillas. Unfortunately, during the formal establishment of the park, Batwa people were evicted in order to better conserve and protect the endangered gorillas.
Many still dwell at the edge of the forest, while a few migrated to nearby places like Kabale, Kihiihi, Kisoro, etc. the Batwa still portray a very primitive way of life, but their unspoilt culture is something to behold. During this village walk, take time to learn about their history, their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle, enjoy and participate in their performances, and see how they construct their treehouses.
Forest hikes. The park has a number of forest trails that can be trekked well by groups of travelers. Each region has different trails that lead visitors to either waterfalls, scenic places, or in the jungle among the rest. The famous Muyanga Waterfall trail departs from Buhoma ranger station, while Rushura Hill Walk passes through one forest shared by two (Uganda and D.R. Congo), Habinyanja (Railegh) Trail, Ivi River Walk, Buhoma-Nkuringo Trek (the most spectacular and adventurous of all) and Muzubijiro Loop that passes close to paths used by many animals in the park.
Accommodation in Bwindi
Respective regions of Buhoma, Nkuringo, Rushaga and Ruhija all contain a profusion of lodging facilities, ranging from luxury facilities, mid-market lodges, rustic bandas as well as shoe string campsites. Though all these facilities are located outside the forest, but most of remain conveniently located close to the park headquarters and briefing point. Some are more isolated to offer exclusive off-the-beaten – track experience. Therefore, every travelers’ accommodation needs are met with such a wide range of facilities. While planning to travel to Bwindi, it’s recommended to reserve your gorilla tracking permit prior to confirming accommodation as the tracking region highly determine the kind of accommodation to be booked and the number of permits issued per day are limited only to 8 per family.
Joining a group tour to Bwindi from Kigali
Taking on a group tour to the dense Bwindi forest is a great to explore not only the scenic Kigezi highlands but also vast Virunga massif via Rwanda. A glance at southwestern Uganda’s lush terraced hills and undulating volcanic slopes, it becomes quite clear that the area of the country is not for the faint-hearted. But nevertheless, it is not for the athletes or experienced mountaineers, but it is for the patient and those who can corporate as a group to make adventure a success. Through the high, rugged altitude and the demanding terrain, gorilla trekking in Bwindi national park promises to be worthwhile for the entire group tour.