Bwindi Forest, home to the rare mountain gorilla
In this Uganda travel guide, you can find travel information about things to do in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the different habituated gorilla families that reside in this park. If you want to know all the practical details about how to organise your gorilla trekking in Uganda - than check this article in the Roadtrip Uganda Before You Travel Section. If you want to get a better feeling of what to experience on a trekking day, than read this article.
What to do in Bwindi Forest
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a national park located in Southwestern Uganda, bordering with Rwanda and Congo. The park is 321 km2 and the closest larger towns are Kabale, the gateway to pretty Lake Bunyonyi and Kisoro, a scruffy highland town. The name ‘Bwindi’ means Impenetrable - it's mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of Africa’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests.
Gorilla trekking is the main attraction here, and permits must be booked well in advance through the UWA main office in Kampala. Obtaining a permit will cost around US$600 per person. For all road trippers that hire a 4x4 with Roadtrip Uganda, we offer the service of obtaining gorilla permits on your behalf. Contact us for more details.
Bwindo Forest is a fantastic birding destination. Are you into birding? Check Roadtrip Uganda's article on the best birding destinations in Uganda, here.
The area is also great for hiking. Nkuringo Walking Safaris offers excellent guided nature walks including dugout canoe trips on Mutanda Lake. All of the proceeds go to the local community. Also Mutanda Lake Resort ( see picture below) offers a great number of interesting activities, such as standup paddling on the lake, a sunset boat ride and great birding walks. There's a good change of spotting Uganda's crested crane.
4 Different gorilla trekking locations in Bwindi
This park protects an estimated 320 mountain gorillas, roughly half of the global population, including 11 habituated groups which can be trekked. Going on gorilla trekking is an exclusive experience. Gorilla trekking is limited to only 8 people per gorilla group per day. The minimum age is 15 years. You will not be accepted to go trekking if you have a strong cold or other illness, because gorillas easily contract many of the human diseases. There are four departing points:
- Buhoma and Ruhija - in the northern section of the park
- Nkuringo and Rushaga - in Kisoro District in the southeast of Bwindi.
Buhoma is home to three habituated gorilla families:
- Mubare: 7 members including one silverback. Mubare is the oldest habituated gorilla group in Uganda. They were found in the Mubare hills, deep in Bwindi forest, and fully habituated in 1993.
- Habinyanja: 15 members including two silverbacks. The Habinyanja group was first visited by tourists in 1999. The name comes from "Nyanja" which is the local word for 'body of water'. It refers to the swamp in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where the group was first sighted.
- Rushegura: 19 members including one silverback. The Rushegura gorilla family was brought together in 2002, after one of the silverbacks from the Habinyanja group decided to break away.
Ruhija hosts two habituated gorilla families:
- Oruzogo: 16 members, available for trekkking since 2012.
- Bitukura: 12 members including four silverbacks. The Bitukura group was named after a river where the family members were first sighted. The habituation process started in 2000.
Nkuringo, hosts one large gorilla family:
- Nkuringo hosts one gorilla family containing 19 members, including four silverbacks and five infants. The Nkuringo group was named after the Rukiga word for "round hill" and was opened to tourists in 2004. Mutanda lake Resort is the closest to Nkuringo.
Rushaga, home to three families:
- Nshongi: 25 members including two silverbacks and six infants. Nshongi is the largest group ever habituated and was officially opened for trekking in September 2009. It was named after the river Nshongi, close to the place where the gorilla family was first seen.
- Mishaya: 17 members including two silverbacks and four infants.
- Kahungye: 15 members including two silverbacks and three infants.
Once a habituated gorilla family has been found by the guide, you can settle down for an hour to observe them as they feed and groom while their babies play about in the trees and bushes, all under the supervision of the great silverback male.....
Contact Roadtrip Uganda to if you need help in obtaining your gorilla trekking permit in Uganda