About Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
A magnificent luxuriant swathe across the steep ridges of the Albertine Rife Valley, this ancient rainforest – one of the few in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age – is regarded to be one of the most biologically diverse forests in Africa.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park has at least 90 mammal species, including 11 primates and is ranked as one of the best in Uganda for forest birding, with 23 highly localized Albertine Rift endemics.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is renowned for its mountain gorilla population, slightly more then half the world’s mountain gorilla population is resident in Bwindi: an estimated 280 – 320 individuals living in 15 groups. Looking deep into the expressive brown eyes of these gentle giants is an extremely special privilege and an encounter unparalleled in most likely the whole of Africa.
Activities Found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
1: Forest Walks
2: Bwindi Walking Safari
3: Cultural Walk
4: Batwa Cultural Experience
5: Bwindi Community Health Centre
6: Craft Shopping
Bwindi has more to offer then just gorilla tracking. Five different day-trails, ranging from 30 minutes to 8 hours in duration, offering the opportunity to enjoy the tranquility of the forest and to see several different monkey species. For birders, roughly 190 bird species have been recorded in this area, ten of which are either listed in the Red Data Book or else endemic to the Albertan Rift.
The Muyanga River Trail lies outside the national park and so no guide is required. It takes roughly 30 minutes, starting at the end of Buhoma road, from where it follows the Bizenga River to its confluence with the Muyanga, before returning to Buhoma Road. Birding can be good in the early morning and late afternoon. This is a non-guided trail and is therefore free of charge.
The Waterfall Trail is for best for primate species and general scenery. It takes about 3 hours and leads for 2km along an abandoned road before crossing the Muyanga River several times on the ascent to the 33m-high waterfall. Bathing is permitted at the bottom of the waterfall and often required after the relatively tough hiking.
Mazubijiro Loop Trail and Rushara Hill Trail, both take about 3 hours and offer good views across to the Virunga Mountains.
The Ivo River Walk is the longest, with duration of 8 hours. This walk leads to the Ivo River on the southern boundary of the park and offers good opportunity for seeing monkeys, duikers and large variety of birds.
Bwindi Walking Safari
Buhoma is on the Northern side of the rainforest and Nkuringo is on the Southern side, near the town of Kisoro. The drive between Buhoma and Nkuringo takes about 7—8 hours, depending on road and weather conditions, a more pleasant alternative to driving is hiking though the rainforest.
There are two walking trails between Buhoma and Nkuringo:
THE IVY RIVER TRAIL: This trail starts off with a 7km walk along a murram road with the rainforest on the right and the river on the left. Upon reaching the forest, the trail ascends and descends gently through beautiful areas of rainforest. A wide diversity of wildlife can be spotted during the walk, including monkeys, duikers, birds and many colourful butterflies. The Ivy River trail takes about 6.5 hours in total.
THE KASHASHA TRAIL: This is the most direct trail through the forest and is about 13km in length. The Kashasha trail begins at the Nkuringo Park Office before proceeding down a steep slope through community land to reach the park buffer zone. The route passes the junction of two rivers inside the forest where after a further 20 minute ascent the trail meets the alternative route, the Ivy River trail, inside the forest about 90 minutes from Buhoma. The Kashasha trail takes approximately 4-5 hours from Nkuringo to Buhoma and 6-7 hours from Buhoma to Nkuringo. The trail offers visitors a close up experience of the natural wonders within a rainforest environment, including a number of monkey species. Birds are prolific in Bwindi forest and your guide will points these out to you during your walk.
A chance to have a taste of the Ugandan lifestyle. You will meet with locals of many different generations and see the way of life in this developing country. One of the highlights of this cultural visit is a visit to a traditional healer or medicine man from the DRC. He will show how bananas are used for a children’s drink, to make beer and also the local spirit. You will also get the chance to interact with the local Batwa community; they will show you how they incorporate every day activities into dance.
Batwa Cultural Experience
This activity requires a free day in Bwindi. You will trek into the forest to a Batwa village and meet the community. Here you will learn about their life style, past and present. They will invite you into their homes and show you their traditional hunting techniques and craft making skills.
Bwindi Community Health Centre
Bwindi Community Health Centre or as it is affectionately know, Dr Scott’s Clinic, was started by US Missionaries Scott and Carol Kellermann in 2003. They came to Uganda with a mission to the Batwa Pygmies who had been evicted from Bwindi Impenetrable
Forest after it was gazetted as a National Park in 1991.
BCHC provides different levels of health care to different patients. People from the nearby parishes use the Health Centre for everything: outpatients for all health problems,
delivery of babies, vaccinations, treatment of TB and when they become seriously ill and need admission to the wards. Sometimes very sick people are carried for miles on a stretcher by villagers.
People from further away use the Health Centre for more complex problems, and will often go to their local Government Health Centre first. Some of the local Government Health Centres struggle to get adequate supplies of drugs and others have staff that battle with difficult working conditions and low morale. BCHC has a reputation for high quality, and sometimes people travel for many days by foot to reach the Health Centre. The x-ray and ultrasound machines are the only ones that are functioning for many hours drive in every direction.
Altogether BCHC is relied upon by more than 40,000 people in Kayonza and Mpungu subcounties of Kanungu District. It is especially important to the several hundred Batwa Pygmies who live nearby in poverty in settlements surrounding Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. They get free health care, and are reached out to by Outreach projects.
Buhoma village has many craft shops and stalls that clients can visit. They are just a short walk away.
Please be expected to haggle as it is more or less customary in Uganda and can be a thoroughly enjoyable experience.