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Africa Gorilla Safaris

Uganda Gorilla Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Gorilla Tracking

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Features and Location
Bwindi Impenetrable National park is situated in the south western Uganda, on the edge of the Western Rift valley known as Albertine rift and is shared by Kanungu, Kabale and Kisoro districts. It is 331 square kilometers n size and on an altitude range of 1,160 metres (Ishasha gorge) to 2,607 metres temperature range is 7 C° -20C° with the coldest period being June and July. Of the local people neighbouring the park, the majority are Bakiga and Bafumbira, constituting the most dense settlements in Uganda (350 people / square Kilometre) a few Batwa are also found.

Species Diversity
Bwindi is home to about 340 gorillas, almost a half of the world's population of mountain gorillas. There are also about 346 species of birds and over 200 species of butterflies. This afromontane forest has dense under storey of fern, vines and shrubs. About 324 tree species have been recorded here, 10 of which occur nowhere else in Uganda.

Gorilla Tracking
This is the major tourist activity in Bwindi, with four (4) Gorilla groups currently available daily for tourists. The major three are:

    Mubare group with 10 gorillas , and I silverback was opened for tourism in 1993
    Habinyanja group with 10 gorillas, and 1 silverback was opened in July 2002, while
    Nkuringo group with 19 gorillas, 2 silverbacks was opened for tourism in April 2004.

Booking Gorilla Tracking
Book at least 3 months but not more than two years in advance to ensure that requested dates are available.
Departure times: 9.00a.m and 2.15p.m

Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi can be challenging, therefore ensure physical fitness. Gorilla tracking experience starts at 8.30a.m local time and can last from a few hours to a whole day! Registration at the gate commences at 7.45 a.m.

What to Bring

    Wear jungle shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes and carry a rain jacket because the park is often wet.
    Put on ear plugs for those who feel uncomfortable with jungle sounds.
    Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is un predictable) and insect repellent.
    Carry packed lunch.

For conservation reasons, visits to the gorillas are tightly controlled. The following rules apply and must be strictly adhered to:

    No one with a communicable disease (e.g. Flu, diarrhoea) is allowed to enter the park.
    Stay together in a tight group while with the gorillas, don't surround them.
    Don't use flashes while photographing the gorillas.
    Don't eat or smoke when with the gorillas or within a distance of 2000 metres from the gorillas.
    Turn away from the gorillas if you have to sneeze or cough. cover your nose and mouth in the process.
    Burry all human feaces a minimum of one foot deep and ensure that the hole is properly covered.
    Don't leave litter. All litter must be carried out of the park and disposed off properly.
    No person under 15 years is allowed to track gorillas.
    Don't make loud noise or move suddenly.
    You are allowed a maximum of I hour with gorillas.
    Don't spit on vegetation or soil while in the park, use hankie or other garment.
    Your group must not be more that 6 tourists and must all be over 15 years old.

Nature Walks
For the visitor who has 2 or 3 days in Bwindi, the park has 4 fantastic hiking trails. On all these trails, you have opportunities to see and learn about primates, many species of birds, butterflies, trees and other organism. Arrange at the reception for a guide. The guide’s company is obligatory and affords you an excellent understanding.

Book at least 3 months (but not more than two years) of nature’s system at work in the park.

The Munyaga river trail is an ideal short walk for visitors with little time to spare. Here you can see birds and primates of the forest edge.

The popular waterfall trail provides an attractive feature of the forest with a profusion of tree ferns, epithytic ferns, orchids and Bwindi’s colourful array of butterflies. This trail which leads to 3 delightful crystal clear waterfalls typifies your impression of a tropical rainforest.

The Rushura trail commands expansive views across the western rift valley floor. To the west, Congo’s parc Nationale des Virunga provides a spectacular backdrop and on clear days Edward and the Rwenzori Mountains are visible.

The 5.2 km Muzabajro Loop trail offers breath taking views of Bwindi Forest, Western Rift valley and the Virungas. On the way, you witness hundreds of prehistoric tree ferns. The top of this trail is a great place for a picnic lunch.

The River Ivi trail, so far the longest in the park, will occupy you for a full day. It is highly recommended for bird watchers.

Buhoma village Tourist Walk
The village tourist walk, takes up to three hours, is managed by the local community and the proceeds received here are ploughed into the community to improve on their welfare.

The walk introduces you to a number of interesting sites such as a typical rural homestead, a visit to the local traditional healer, a banana beer brewing demonstration site and much more.

Cultural performances
In the evenings, participate in captivating traditional performances presented by Women and Orphan groups. Proceeds from these g directly to improve the welfare of the families around the park.

Hit the trail in your car
Visitors with their own 4-wheel drive vehicles should consider crossing the rugged centre of the park through Ruhija. This transect affords the visitor to see Uganda’s finest vistas of deep undisturbed forests. Watch out for duikers, primates and both forest and grassland bird species. At Ruhija, visitors (especially birders) can take three – hour scenery packed hike to the Mubwindi swamp. Visitors may also walk to the Bamboo trail offers 14 vegetation types annd is one of the areas of highest diversity in the park. at the top of this trail, you witness panoramic views encompassing L.Bunyonyi and Mafuga forest.

Bird Watching
Bwindi is the Bird watchers haven! It holds 346 species of birds and contains 90% of all Albertine rift endemics, difficult or impossible to see in any other part of East Africa; and even IUCN red data listed species. An experienced bird watcher can identify up to 100 species in a day! Visit Ruhija and Buhoma for this dream. Indicate your interest to the park management so that appropriate early morning departures can be arranged.

Accommodation and Meals

Buhoma Community Camp
There are a number of choices to cater for the upmarket as well as the budget tourists’ accommodation.

    The local community operates a rest camp, Buhoma Community Camp ground with clean and simple traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner is also available.
    Bwindi View canteen is also favourable for low income visitors.
    Buhoma homestead.
    Gorilla Forest Camp.
    Mantana Luxury tented camp
    Lake Kitandara Bwindi Camp
    Volcanoes Bwindi Camp
    Bring your own tent.

Ruhija Guest house
This is a self Guest house which must be booked in advance through Uganda Wildlife Authority in Kampala.

Kihihi Savanna Resort Hotel
Savanna Resort Hotel is 43 kms to Buhoma and is adjacent to Ishasha sector, of Queen Elizabeth National park.

Access to Bwindi Impenetrable National park
We assume you are starting from Kampala to Kabale is a distance of 414 km on bitumen surface and takes 6- 7 hours. Ann additional 120 km from Kabale to Buhoma Park Headquarters via kanungu and Kanyantoroogo on murram surface takes 3 – 4 hours and may require a 4WD vehicle. Kabale – Ruhija – Buhoma is 95 kilometres and takes about 3 - 4 hours. This road is not frequently used by the public. A 4WD vehicle is recommended.

Budgeted transport
There is also a bus from Kampala to Butogota. Taxis for hire are available for about $US 15 from Butogota to Buhoma Park Headquarters. You may travel by bus or public taxi from Kampala to Kabale. In Kabale you can hire a car at about US$ 50, or take taxi to Butogota. Public transport to Butogota is unpredictable, but most common on Thursdays. Arrange in advance to be picked from Buhoma after visit; you don’t have your own vehicle.

Niche Africa Holidays, being a tour operator based in this region offers safaris in a 4x4 land cruisers to Bwindi from Kampala. Some of the safaris are as follows:-

10 Days Uganda Chimp, Culture and Beach Safari
5 Days Chimps and Gorilla Tracking
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
6 Days Best Gorilla Safari, Uganda Wildlife and Water Sports
3 Days Gorilla Safari Uganda to Bwindi
4 Days Private Gorilla Camping Tour
7 Days, Best of Uganda Gorilla Tracking Adventure
10 Days, Best of Uganda Gorilla Trekking

 

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