Bwindi Gorilla safaris are currently the best gorilla safari packages if you want to trek mountain gorillas in Africa, East Africa or Uganda in general. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest has over half the remaining Mountain Gorilla population in the whole world and is so far the most visited national park when it comes to Gorilla Trekking. This national park brings in over half the total number of tourists that travel to Uganda each and every year hence, should be the next reason why you travel to Uganda.
Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda can be carried out at any time of the year. It can be noted that hiking the slopes of the Mgahinga or the hilly rugged landscapes of Bwindi tend to be challenging in the rainy season that stretch from the months of April through May and then November. The forest trails are muddy and slippery present a challenging hike. The rain also presents uncomfortable trek if it happens to rain on the morning of gorilla trekking. The common time preferred by the many to undertake Gorilla trekking in Uganda is in the drier months that stretch between December and February and then from June to around Mid-September.
The Impenetrable forests of Bwindi that are positioned in the south west of Uganda support a minimum of 400 mountain gorillas that are close to a half of the critically endangered mountain gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park features a count of twelve (12) fully habituated gorilla families that are spread in its four gorilla trekking regions of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga and Nkuringo. Other two (2) new gorilla groups are under habituation with the possibility of increasing the gorilla groups visited on Uganda gorilla safaris. Tailor made Uganda gorilla safaris allow you to select the places that you feel like exploring with no influence of Prime Uganda Safaris. The tailor made safaris involves you selecting the preferable travel time and the travel pace that suites your interests.
The Prime Uganda Safaris Tailor made safaris are entirely private where you travel yourself, you’re travelling companions and the Prime Uganda Safaris local professional safari driver guide who has expert knowledge about Uganda and it’s her sites visited on safaris in Uganda not forgetting the extension to Rwanda. Your Tailor made safari in Uganda itinerary is further enhanced by the Prime Uganda safari expert who gives you in depth details of the safari and possibly suggest littler further additions and subtractions that deem necessary. Mostly they can help you incorporate the touch of the local people and cultures not forgetting the other novelic sites that would be far beyond the knowledge of the average traveller. Whatever micro destinations and activities that you opt to encounter, Prime Uganda Safaris is always dedicated to offering you ultimate safari memories of a lifetime with great authenticity and style.
It is advisable to avoid booking the gorilla permits in Uganda on a short notice especially in the popular seasons as you can easily miss out. Prime Safaris has considerable expertise in Uganda gorilla safari operations and thus can do all the required arrangements to ensure that you have the permit to track gorillas in Uganda.
In Uganda, there are always Ninety Six (96) gorilla permits available per day to track gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and eight (8) more gorilla permits present in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park with each permit costing about $600 for the nonresident foreigners, $500 for resident foreigners and 250,000/= for the citizens of the East African Community (EAC).
Uganda also offers discounted Gorilla trekking permits in Uganda in the low season which is also the rain season and these include months of April, May and November. The permits are reduced to $350 for the foreign nonresidents, $300 for the resident foreigners and 150,000/= for the East African Community citizens.
The gorilla permits in Uganda are solely sold by the Uganda Wildlife Authority which has offices in Kampala for the gorilla permits of Bwindi and in Kisoro for the gorilla permits of Mgahinga. The gorilla permits of Mgahinga are sold on group because initially the gorilla family tended to cross to Congo thus the permit would be issued depending on whether the group is available. But the group now settled permanently on the Ugandan side though the permits are still issued on ground.
In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, there permits are sold per region and the more gorilla families in the region the more the permits. Rushaga in the south of Bwindi which features five (5) gorilla families has the highest gorilla permits in Bwindi followed by Ruhija and Buhoma that have three (3) gorilla families each and Nkuringo with its single gorilla family comes last. It should be noted that being a pioneer of gorilla trekking activity in Bwindi, Buhoma has well established facilities like accommodation and its trek is less challenging which makes her gorilla permits to be on high demand. Nkuringo also features the most challenging hike in Bwindi and adventurous travellers are always in a rush for its only eight permits. Therefore, if you are targeting these toe regions, it is better to book far back in advance.
In Kampala, UWA offices are located along Plot 7 Kira Road, Kamwokya. You have possibilities of booking a Uganda gorilla permit by yourself or through an Agent. Prime Uganda Safaris can help you to book a gorilla permit on the preferred date. Kindly note that the criteria for booking the gorilla permit is first come and first serve and you need to submit the passport details for gorilla permit printing.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a large primeval forest located in southwestern Uganda in the Kanungu District. The forest is on the edge of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift, at altitudes ranging from 1,160 metres (3,810 ft) to 2,607 metres (8,553 ft).
The name “Bwindi” is derived from the Runyakitara language and means “impenetrable”. This name comes from the extensive stands of bamboo interspersed amongst the larger forest hardwoods, and which, along with thick ground cover of ferns, vines, and other plant growth, severely hinder direct access on foot. Also known as the “Place of Darkness”, the forest is on the edge of the western arm of the Great Rift Valley, only a few kilometers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) border and about 25 kilometres (16 mi) north of the Virunga Volcanoes.
The forest is one of the most biologically diverse areas on Earth, where half the world’s population of the highly endangered mountain gorillas live in its jungles. The forest has been recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site for its biological significance.
The forest has been described as “(R)iven by disputes and crosshatched by historical, political, and biological borders,” by researcher Craig Stanford, co-director of the park’s Jane Goodall Research Center. In 1991, the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was established, adjacent to the strife-torn Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC border region.
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP) is in south-western Uganda. The park is part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and is situated along the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) border next to the Virunga National Park and on the edge of the Albertine Rift. Composed of 331 square kilometres (128 sq mi) of both montane and lowland forest, it is accessible only on foot. BINP is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization-designated World Heritage Site.
Species diversity is a feature of the park. It provides habitat for 120 species of mammals, 348 species of birds, 220 species of butterflies, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos, and many endangered species. Floristically, the park is among the most diverse forests in East Africa, with more than 1,000 flowering plant species, including 163 species of trees and 104 species of ferns. The northern (low elevation) sector has many species of Guineo-Congolian flora, including two endangered species, the brown mahogany and Brazzeia longipedicellata. In particular, the area shares in the high levels of endemisms of the Albertine Rift.
The park is a sanctuary for colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, and many birds such as hornbills and turacos. It is most notable for the 340 Bwindi gorillas, half of the world’s population of the critically endangered mountain gorillas. Four habituated mountain gorilla groups are open to tourism: Mubare; Habinyanja; Rushegura near Buhoma; and the Nkuringo group at Nkuringo.
The Mountain Gorilla Tracking-Experience
At most 8 people are permitted on a tracking team because more would actually disturb the peace of the Gorilla group you’re visiting. This additionally limits the exposure of Mountain Gorillas to illnesses transmitted by humans.
As you move through this forest keep your voices low, and silence could be better because otherwise you could miss-out on other wildlife and the profusion of birds in Bwindi or the Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
What you Pack in pack it all out. Don’t leave anything like rubbish behind because it will spoil the environment for the next guests.
The Mountain Gorilla Tracking starts where the safari-guides last saw the Gorilla group the previous day and then track them up to their latest location given that they are always on the move.
In the Presence of Mountain Gorillas
Maintain a distance of 5m which is approximately 15 ft from the fascinating Mountain Gorillas. That way you shield the mountain gorillas from any diseases plus illnesses transmitted by humans.
Keep together as a team when in their presence.
All Voices must be kept low rather better to keep silence and actually just enjoy the moment in the presence of the Mountain Gorillas.
Do not eat of food or take drinks while in their presence.
Flash photography is not allowed. Avoid several movements as you take pictures; keep it composed.
You are not allowed to touch or even attempt touching the Gorillas.
Maintain your voices low until you move out of the Mountain Gorillas’ range.
Because Mountain Gorillas are very closely related to humans, they are very vulnerable to contract diseases transmitted by humans.
In case you don’t well, please alert the authorities and don’t join the gorilla tracking group.
In case you want to blow your nose, cough or sneeze, gently turn your head away from where the gorillas are to limit the risk of infecting them.
Smoking, drinking plus eating are not permitted when in the Mountain Gorillas’ presence.
Buhoma is Bwindi’s busiest tourism site on the north of the forest. It’s the trail head for tracking 3 gorges and a big range of accommodation is also available. Although tracking is the main tourist attraction, a range of different relaxed opportunities to spot birds & exploring one of Uganda’s most beautiful Bwindi National Park . They can be organized to depart in the morning at 09.00 and afternoon at 14.15.
* Munyanga River Trail is found in the valley below Buhoma, an ideal short distance walk to view birds & primates forest edge.
* Waterfall Trail heads through one of Uganda’s main tracts of rainforest, passing below tree ferns and orchids to visit 3 sparkling waterfal
* Rushura Hill Trail offers impressive views (western rift valley plains to the west) Lake Edward & the Rwenzori to the north
* Muzabajiro Loop Trail goes up to the summit for awe-inspiring views of Bwindi forest, the western rift valley and the Virunga volcanoes.
* River Ivi Trail takes an old road through beaL emerging close to Nkuringo along the southern edge 01 it’s highly recommended for birders.
Buhoma community cultural performance and walking experience. The local society operates a village walk which takes one- three hrs. This immerses visitors in village life. include the traditional healer a typical homestead, and a beer brewery.Additionally, Local dance groups perform traditional dance & music in the evening time by arrangement.
Meet the Habituated Gorilla Groups of Uganda
Below is a List of the Habituated Gorilla Groups and where they are located
The groups listed below are those currently available for Gorilla Tracking within Uganda
Buhoma Area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
• Mubare Group: this Mubare group (also called the M-Group) – was the very first group to actually be habituated for tracking by tourists. the habituation started in 1991 and this group received its very first tracking visitors in 1993. Mubare group is actually named after the stunning Mubare Hills in which this group was discovered.
• Habinyanja Group: This Habinyanja Group was in 1997 habituated for tracking and received tourists in the year 1999. In the start it was a huge group, however a family was split from it named the Rushegura Group. These two groups crisscross each other now and again and co-exist peacefully.
• Rushegura Group: This Rushegura Group was in 2000 habituated for tracking and received tourists in the year 2002. It is a huge group within the Buhoma area of Bwindi Forest.
Ruhija region of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – habitat of the Bitukura Gorilla group
• Bitukura Group: This Bitukura Group is among of the newest groups in Bwindi Forest- it is found and roams the verdant forest within the Ruhija area. There is restricted lodging in this area – although that available is offered in moderate plus high-class lodges.
Rushaga region of Bwindi Forest – habitat of the Nshongi Group as well as the Mishaya Gorilla Family
• Mishaya Group: following a family dispute- the Mishaya Gorilla family Split from the then biggest Gorilla Group in Bwindi Forest – the Nshongi Gorilla Family – which two still live within the Rushaga region in Southern Bwindi Forest.
• Nshongi Group: This currently is the biggest habituated gorilla family in Uganda with 25 members , at the opening of the group for visitors after Habituation it comprised of 25, and 10 left to form another family called the Mishaya Group.
Nkuringo Region of Bwindi Forest – which is among the more physically challenging although rewarding regions in the of forest to enjoy Gorilla Tracking – habitat to the Nkuringo Gorilla Family
• Nkuringo Group: The accommodation facilities found at Nkuringo – offer a breathtaking worth the cost of the gorilla-permits- this is among of the most challenging hikes in Uganda – although undoubtedly worthwhile- as it is the most pleasing. The Group comprises of 19 members and is a favorite to people who have tracked over one group.
Bwindi forest can be accessed from Queen Elizabeth National Park to the northern just 2 to 3 hours drive, from Kampala through Mbarara about 6 to 8 hours drive or from Kabale town to the southern just 1 to 2 hours. These roads then converge at Butogota, just 17 kilometers from the Buhoma entrance-gate. A 4×4 vehicle is needed through the rainy months. A daily bus service leaves Kampala for Butogota via Rukungiri and Kihiihi. We recommend
Travelers can choose to fly from Entebbe or from Kampala at Kajansi airfield to the up to date tarmac airstrip found at Kisoro. Additionally Planes may as well be chartered to the Savannah or the grass Kayonza airstrips.
Bwindi is actually well served by 3 airfields at Kihiihi plus Kayonza for the northern area in addition to Nyakabande found in Kisoro for people going to track mountain gorillas within the southern area (Mishaya, Nshongi plus Nkuringo).
Bwindi is located in the south-western part of Uganda with approximately 7 h 35 min (463.7 Km) via Masaka Road. from Kampala .The easiest means of transport to Bwindi is by road.
Queen Elizabeth national Park (Mweya)- Kihihi-Buhoma.
On your way to the park, you will pass through Ishasha and you will enjoy seeing the climbing lions along with monkeys on the road.Bwindi covers an area of about160km from Mweya and about 64km from Ishasha.
The route has a tarmac highway to kabala and covers an area of about 414 km and it’s a 5-6 hour’s drive. The next route has a murram road and has about 120km. the route goes through Kanungu as well as Kanyantorogo and it takes about 4-5hours.The most convenient vehicle is A4WD.
The easiest and most convenient route is from Kampala direct to the tarmac road Rukungiri and has about 390km in addition to murram road to Buhoma.
This route covers an area of about 95km2 on the murram road and its takes about 3-4hrs.The only vehicle that can pass through Ruhija is a 4WD.
It covers a distance of about 105kms from Kabale town and it takes about 4 hours to get to the mountainous murram road. Many tourists take up nights in Kisoro town and the remaining distance is about 80km from Kabale prior to Nkuringo.Kisoro road is a meandering 35km and takes about 1-1.5 hours. The most suitable car for this area is the 4WD.
By means of public transport, a bus set on everyday from Kampala to Butogota.Thereafter a tax can be got the last 17km to Buhoma.Nkuringo has no public means and the best thing to do is to hire a vehicle from Kisoro.
Another means of transport can be by Air; Tourits can fly from kajjansi airfield or Entebbe and land off from Kisoro airstrip. Those who may want to visit Buhoma may take on the charter planes and land off from Kayonza airstrip.
Bwindi National Park a home to tremendous biodiversity because of two factors. First of all, its slopes stretch over a broad altitudinalrange of 1447 meter to create habitats roaming from lowland forest at 1160m to unique Afromontane vegetation above 2600m.
Second, it is extremely old. since most of Africa’s forests were destroyed during the arid conditions of the final ice age(12,000-18,000 years ago), Bwindi was among a few ‘refugia’ that remained.
As a result, as most of nowadays forests are not further than 12,000 years old, Bwindi’s vegetation has been weaving itselfinto tangles over 25,000 years, in the process accumulating an extensive species list. This consist of 310 species ofbutterfly, 200 trees, 88 moths,51 reptiles, and a tremendous 120 varieties of mammal including 10 primates. The latter are red tailed, chimpanzee, L’Hoest’s and blue monkey, black & white colobus, baboon, as well as Bwindi’s most famous resident,
the mountain gorilla.
Bwindi is a prime location for birdwatchers. Its 350 bird species including 7 which are IUCN red data listed & 90% of all
Albertine rift endemics species that are hard or impossible to see in some other part of East Africa especially on Tanzania safari holidays. A more experienced bird
watcher can simply identify up to 100 species in a single day!
The local people near the park are mos’ and Bafumbira. Minor Batwa communities are(Pygmy!) also present. The Bwindi area holds up one of the rural population densities in Uganda with a number of 350 people.
the diverse trailheads of Bwindi can be accessed by vehicle. But there aren’t any roads inside the park itself that is traveled around on foot. The Bwindi is appropriately named as ‘impenetrable forest’; the paths go through thick vegetation and may be steep. Make use of walking sticks provided at the beginning of the walk.
Climate and best time to Visit
Bwindi is cold in the mornings and in the nights with moderate temperatures between 7⁰C and 20⁰C. Actually the coldest time in Bwindi is from June to July, while the wet seasons starts in March to May as well as from September to November experiencing a total annual rainfall of 2390mm. the Rains received in March to May are actually short. September to November receives heavier although these are long hours of gentle drizzles.
There is a variety of accommodation places to stay basing on which gorilla group you to track.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Reserve was set up in 1942 and later on renovated to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in 1992.In 1994, it was acknowledged as the world Heritage site. Rukiga is a language commonly spoke in this area and the word Bwindi in realty means Impenetrable. What makes Bwindi Impenetrable is the fact that it covers an area of about 327km2 of scrambled vegetation draped over an intensively fissured landscape of the steep, haughty ridges as well as the slippery valleys and high. The terrain may be hard for you to manage but remember it’s what makes Africa an exciting continent. The park has a big population of gorillas.Bwindi is well known to be very cold in the morning and at night. The coolest months are usually June and July and the average temperature is about 70c-200c. When it concerns what to pack for a safari please pack warm clothes because Bwindi is so cold and receives about 2390mm of rain. It has two rain seasons, little rains are in the months of March-May and heavy rains are in the months of September as well as Novermber.The rain in Bwindi takes long hours to stop.