Bwindi National Park
Bwindi National Park : Home to over 400 Mountain Gorilla which is more than half of the entire gorilla population in the entire world. Bwindi National Park holds the largest number of the endangered species in the entire world. In 1991 it was gazetted as a national park and in 1994 declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage.
The park’s name Bwindi originates from the word “mubwindi” which means “a place full of darkness” the darkness and impenetrability is due to the heavy rain forests covering the area dating back to almost 25000 years ago.
Bwindi National Park is located in the South Western Uganda at the edge of the western arm of the Great Rift Valley in Kanungu District. It’s about a 9 to 10 hour journey from the Capital Kampala, about 3 – 4 hours from Rwanda’s capital Kigali and about 2-3 hours from Queen Elizabeth National Park. If you decide to fly to the park, you will take about an hour to 45 mins from Kajjansi, an airstrip near Entebbe International airport. The aircraft drops you in Kisoro and from Kisoro to Bwindi National Park its 1 hour while on a Uganda Safari.
The park covers an area of 331 Square kilometers mainly occupied by the impenetrable forest the main habitat for the gorillas. The forest has up to 400 plant species and other vegetation that make home for over 350 bird species and 120 mammals species. The other mammal species in the forest, apart from the mountain gorillas are baboons, colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, elephants, antelopes.
Despite the presence of other animals in the park, Bwindi National Park is mainly famous for mountain gorilla trekking. Mountain gorilla trekking is the experience of taking up a hike up of the mountains and navigating the impenetrable forest for a chance to have a glimpse at the mountain Some of the mountain gorillas families in Bwindi National Park include Rushegura, habinyanja, mubare, bitukura, oruzongo, kyaguriro, nkuringo, mishaya,nshogi, kahugye, bweza, busingye
Mountain gorilla trekking is carried out all year around but dry seasons remain the most favorable for a maximum experience. Ahead of the trekking, one must obtain a trekking permit which is issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority persons 15 years and above. Trekking permits are booked way in advance because of the high demand of this adventurous activity.
On the day of your mountain gorilla trekking experience you will be up early, have a briefing at the park headquarters, then trek the forest for about 5 to 7 hours depending on how far the gorillas are from you starting point. You will spend 1 hour with the gorillas and after the whole experience you will receive a trekking certificate.
On your trekking experience you will trek one of the four sectors in the park which are:-
Buhoma Sector in the north, it’s the oldest and most visited sector of the park. The sector is currently home to about 7 families with the oldest being the Mubare family that was habituated in 1992. This is also the sector closet to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Rushaga Sector located in the south, is dubbed the best sector to trek with some of the humorous gorillas. The sector currently has 5 mountain gorilla families that can be trekked. This sector is near Lake Mutanda so if you are up for fun, you can take a boat ride on the lake after the mountain gorilla experience.
Nkuringo Sector is the toughest to trek because of rough terrains but very fulfilling, if you are trekking this sector you must be physically fit. The sector has 4 mountain gorilla families.
Ruhija Sector is the most beautiful sector to trek. The sector gives its trekkers scenic sceneries of the vegetation, and the surrounding including the virunga massif. If you trek high enough you will also get to the magnificent rwamuyonyi peak.